Student and Alumni Spotlights

Jay Kavia

From Curiosity to Compassion: A Journey into Public Health and Medicine

Jay Kavia

Public Health/Minor in Biology, Class of 2024

  • Hometown: Princeton, NJ
  • Activities/Organizations: Cancer Metabolism and Clinical Research Assistant at RWJMS, Resident Assistant, Managing Editor of The Examiner (Pre- Health Journal), Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program Peer Tutor and Peer Mentor, Rutgers Health Occupations Students of America Vice President, Phi Delta Epsilon Medical Fraternity, Crisis Text Line Counselor, Intramural Soccer

Jay Kavia was always interested in science. Knowing he wanted to explore a career in medicine, he volunteered at his local hospital during high school.

He began researching majors that would help him in his prospective medical career, including cell biology and neuroscience, biology, genetics, and public health. What set him on the path of public health was the pandemic.

“Every experience has some effect on a person’s life: I became the person I am today because of the things I participated in and encountered throughout my undergraduate degree at Rutgers,” Jay said.

He was a senior in high school at the onset of the first pandemic lockdown and also worked at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick during subsequent Covid waves. “I saw first-hand how much effort healthcare workers put into protecting and serving our communities.”

He learned about the many factors that influence individual health as well as society as a whole. His experiences helped him realize he wanted to gain more knowledge about the healthcare system, population health, and the many factors that affect both. “I opted to major in public health in order to develop my skills and knowledge, culminating in my eventual practice as a physician,” he said.

“Rutgers is a great institution that provides support to students in all of their endeavors. With my aspirations to become a physician, I understand the importance of cultural diversity, which I knew I would find here. And because of its size, location, and resources, I knew that Rutgers would provide vast opportunities that would aid in my aspirations.”

One of the most important things he learned, he said, was the need to better understand how a patient’s background, home life, and other factors may influence their health. Courses such as Drugs, Culture and Society, taught by Professor Alexandra Lopez, explained topics such as addiction as a disease as well as institutional disparities across the healthcare system.

“The class was priceless in terms of the knowledge I could use and apply as a future physician. By utilizing what I learned, I hope to become known for my empathy and ability to understand my patient’s stories.”

Jay also feels that the key to success in any endeavor is to create a healthy work-life balance.

“After working as a Cancer Metabolism Research Assistant at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School or studying for exams, I try to spend an equal amount of time exploring my interests,” which include exercising, reading, watching sports, meditating, and spending time with friends whenever possible.

This fall, he is presenting a research project at the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. For his senior Bloustien School internship, he will be working at the Community Health Department at RWJ Somerset, where he will be focusing on lung cancer screening prevention, education, and outreach.

Jay will be matriculating at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School next summer. Armed with what he learned about public health and its overarching effects across the healthcare system, he plans to include a global health focus in medical school. “This will enable me to further my public health studies and provide a unique perspective on the patient and healthcare experience.”

Advice to prospective students: Find the courage to take the path less traveled. Public Health is an ever-expanding field, with innovations affecting the entire country and globe. The Bloustein School offers a wealth of courses that delve in varying topics that relate to health and society. Don’t be afraid to push your boundaries and take courses on topics you know nothing about—often these are the ones you end up enjoying the most.