Passion is a constant driver in Dr Asika Pelenda’s life, it is felt in her career, dancing and business ventures.
Since leaving Melbourne Girls Grammar in 2009, Asika has completed her Bachelor of Biomedicine and Doctor of Medicine (MD) at the University of Melbourne, as well as a Diploma of Child Health at The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network.
She now has over five years of clinical experience working across various metropolitan and rural hospitals around Victoria and observing clinical work in rural Queensland, rural India and New York.
Asika’s passion for public and global health was a driving force during her studies and continues to drive her career today.
Her love for dancing, which started at a young age, has turned into a passion project with the creation of her business, Hansimi Dance, which provides dance classes for weddings and events.
Asika kindly took some time out of her busy schedule to share what she has been doing since departing the red brick walls in our latest edition of Alumnae Spotlight.
She tells the story behind her dance business, what she is doing now and what she loves about her career.
What is your current position? What does your day-to-day job entail?
I’m a Paediatric Registrar — I work for the Victorian Paediatric Training Network, and during training, we move around to different hospitals frequently — I’m currently working at Box Hill Hospital. My work is varied in every aspect, from the patients I see (newborns to 17 year olds), the cases and presentations I see and the hours I work! It means my day-to-day is quite different, which makes work very interesting. I’m also passionate about teaching and am a tutor and lecturer in undergraduate Global Health at Monash University, so some days I’m at university or working from home. I changed to part-time clinical work this year, so I could increase my teaching portfolio and have more time for my dance interests.
When did you know you wanted a career in medicine/paediatrics?
I believe I went into medicine because of my interest in Global Health. Witnessing the disparities in health outcomes between my family here in Australia and my family in Sri Lanka meant that I was interested in understanding and overcoming certain barriers to good health. I do find medicine itself very fascinating, so I enjoy both clinical and non-clinical work. In terms of working with children — as I grew up dancing and teaching children, I knew my future career would entail working with children. Working with children is both very enjoyable and humbling because they often make me laugh, and they surprise me with how clever, intuitive and resilient they are.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love meeting people from all walks of life. I meet patients and families in their most vulnerable states, and it certainly feels like a privilege to have the opportunity to explore their issues and concerns and try to help mediate or improve them in some way. I’ve also been very fortunate to work with the most incredible and supportive colleagues, which certainly makes for a great working environment in an otherwise stressful job.
I meet patients and families in their most vulnerable states, and it certainly feels like a privilege to have the opportunity to explore their issues and concerns…
What advice do you have for alumnae or students working towards a future career in medicine and allied health?
It’s a very rewarding career, and, like anything, it comes with a number of challenges, from roadblocks in training to difficulties in managing patients and families. With any job, it’s always easier to overcome these challenges if you’re passionate and interested in your work. If you’re interested in a career in medicine or allied health, there are so many different opportunities — despite what you may have heard, there’s no single pathway.
I’d advise you to keep an open mind, work hard, don’t be afraid to take some time off study or work and follow your interests.
What was the inspiration when starting your business, Hansimi Dance?
I’ve been dancing since I was 7 years old, and it soon changed from a hobby to a passion. It was difficult navigating my interests in medicine and dance, but I continued to find the time for it despite the lack of sleep. I originally trained in Indian Classical Dance, where I met my very good friend, dance partner and now business partner. When training for our graduation, we dreamt of one day having our own company and finally took the plunge and made it official last year. It received much support from our friends and family, for which we’re very grateful. We’re passionate about making dance fun and accessible to all and enjoy spreading the joy we feel when dancing with others.
What has been a standout moment since launching your business?
Definitely the level of interest we’ve had! We didn’t expect much when we launched, and we now have a very supportive circle around us. We provide dance classes for weddings and events, and we’ve already been fortunate enough to work with a number of amazing couples and families.
What are your plans for 2022 and beyond?
We hope to make more creative dance videos, put our name out there, work with more clients, and have a dance workshop!