Student Spotlight: Nikita Deshpande

In our Student Spotlight feature, students working with or honored by the Institute are highlighted. Nikita Deshpande is an intern supporting policy research for IMPH’s behavioral health initiative.

Nikita Headshot cropped small

Nikita Deshpande, IMPH intern

Hometown: Atlanta, GA and Greenville, SC

School: Furman University

Major: Neuroscience, minor in Medicine, Health and Culture

Degree pursued: BS

Expected Graduation: May 2018

How did you become interested in public health and medicine? 

I first became interested in medicine through volunteering at the Shriner’s hospital in high school and the Greenville Free Medical Clinic (GFMC) in college. I grew up loving science. I soon saw that medicine was this fundamental key linking theoretical science with real-world problems, and that I could use my love for discovery in science to fulfill my desire to be a contributive member of society bettering others’ lives.

My interest in public health truly began when I participated in the Medical Ethics/Medical Sociology program at Furman the fall of my sophomore year. My eyes were opened to the multitude of factors that affect health that I had never realized before–I more fully understand now how policy and other macroscopic variables such as socioeconomic status, geographical location and perceptions of disease can influence health in very significant ways, beyond the clinical level. I really enjoy being able to view and learn about health in both of these ways, through understanding biological mechanisms and macroscopic determinants of health.

What areas of public health/medicine are you most interested in and why?

I am particularly interested in mental health and behavioral health, as I am a neuroscience major and enjoy discovering how the human mind works. I think mental health is the field where the interplay of microscopic biological mechanism and macroscopic determinants of health is the most salient–both are so highly implicated in mental health. I am so happy to have the opportunity to learn more about the realities of mental healthcare in SC through my work with IMPH, and cannot wait to learn more.

What are your future plans?

I plan to attend medical school, pursuing either an MD or MD/MPH joint program. I am not sure how I want to balance my interest in clinical work and public health in my career, but I hope to figure that out through my experiences in medical school and residency!

If you weren’t studying public health (and/or premed), what would you study?

I think that I would study sociology if I could not study neuroscience or public health.

Who do you consider your mentor/greatest inspiration and why?

I would consider my professor Dr. Maher a great mentor and source of inspiration. She is a medical sociologist, and sees the world in a way that I hope to one day. I have learned so much from her, both in her Medical Sociology class and through traveling with her in Botswana for two weeks learning about various biomedical and sociological factors that have influenced the HIV epidemic in the country.

When you aren’t studying or working, what are your favorite activities?

I love practicing yoga, hiking with friends, knitting and reading. I also just enjoy exploring new places and experiencing new, challenging activities.

Anything else you want to share or highlight?  Any scholastic/athletic/volunteer activities or recognitions? 

When I am not in class, I enjoy a number of activities including volunteering at the GFMC, volunteering in my service fraternity (Alpha Phi Omega), and running Furman’s chapter of I Am That Girl, an organization that fosters community through weekly discussions of topics salient to college students and women.

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