This article originally appeared in the winter 2019 issue of Harker Magazine.
When Dr. Shalini (Lal) Bhambani ’02 decided to pursue a career in medicine, she didn’t know that she would learn cutting-edge technology that would regularly save the lives of very ill patients. Her post-Harker education took her to Pomona College where she earned her bachelor’s degree in neuroscience before she went to medical school at Harvard University.
She actually thought she wanted to become a pediatrician, because she loves children, but realized that it was very emotionally taxing to see children so sick. Then a rotation through cardiology opened a new world, one that was procedure-based and very brainy, which was appealing to her.
It was so appealing that after her residency at Los Angeles County Hospital+USC Medical Center, she did two fellowships, including one at Stanford University in cardiovascular imaging/echocardiography that gave her special training in 3D echo, strain imaging, interventional echo for structural heart disease and cardiac MRI. This unique skill set allows her to have a greater impact on sick patients by making and confirming diagnoses at Silicon Valley Cardiology, which is part of Palo Alto Medical Foundation.
“Patients come from all over the country to get diagnoses that can only be made with this imaging, so my work is meaningful and impactful,” said Bhambani. “In my practice, I’m the only one with this skill set and I’m fortunate to work with my partners who support and trust me.”
It’s very rewarding work and she appreciates Harker’s role in grooming her for success.
So when Bhambani’s son, Aiden, turned 5 she knew exactly where she wanted to send him to school – Harker (her 4-year-old daughter, Sania, hopefully will attend Harker next year). “Harker wants you to learn to become a better person; it teaches students that life skills are not just academic skills.” Bhambani and her husband, Ajoy, feel that becoming part of the Harker community as a family will have an incredible impact on their children. Her transition from student to parent has been filled with joy because Aiden is so happy at school. “Mommy, I love Harker,” said Aiden, who just started first grade. “How come Harker doesn’t have a college?”
Bhambani laughed at this comment, but is hopeful Aiden will get to experience some of the amazing teachers she had when she attended Harker.
“Shalini came up to me at a recent family picnic with the same smile and an air of kindness she had in high school and told me that her son would be in one of my classes in a little over a decade. So much for retirement,” laughed Robbie Korin, chemistry teacher. “But in all seriousness, Shalini came into my Honors Chemistry class concerned that she would struggle, but she quickly found her footing and became an excellent student of chemistry.”
Bhambani learned so much in Korin’s class, she actually used the notes from his course while studying for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
“There’s nothing greater that I can do than sending my own children to Harker,” Bhambani said. “I really trust in their methods and am grateful for what Harker did for me and will do for my children.”
Vikki Bowes-Mok is also the executive director of the community nonprofit Compass Collective.