York University alumna Jayashree Thatte Bhat (MSc ’75) immigrated to Canada in the 1970s and joined York’s Chemistry Department. She credits the university with helping her adjust to Canadian life. “My new mental framework developed here,” she says. “Along with sciences, I also learned what Canada was about.”
After a successful medical research career, Bhat decided to retire early and spread that scientific knowledge – “so easily available in Canada” – overseas. Today, she is a founding member of an organization dedicated to promoting breast cancer awareness in rural India. Early detection of the disease is crucial to successful treatment, but often women in the rural regions of India do not seek help until the cancer is at an already advanced stage. For more than a decade, Bhat has been working with women and their families to help cope with and spark conversations about the disease. Thanks to her efforts, there are now seven Breast Cancer Awareness centresacross the state of Maharashtra.
Bhat’s cross-cultural work has earned her an Alberta Centennial Medal from the government of Alberta, the prestigious Chaturastra Chatura award from the government of Maharashtra, and a position on the Canadian Race Relations Foundation Board of Directors. She earned her master’s and doctorate in classical music from Indian universities, and is currently a visiting professor of musicology at several universities as well as a regular speaker for the International Women’s Forum in Canada, India and the U.S.