Nikita Class of 2018, head shot picture. smilling, and crossed arms in a pink dress

Nikita Deshpande '18

  • Major: Neuroscience
  • Hometown: Greenville, South Carolina

Nikita Deshpande wanted to become a well-rounded person before becoming a medical doctor. A year at Furman, however, gave her a surprise: She could—and should—be both at the same time.

Gifted with a broad perspective, Deshpande arrived as a Hollingsworth Scholar, awarded for exceptional commitment to community service. As a freshman she volunteered at Shriner’s Hospitals for Children while co-founding, through her involvement with the Shucker Leadership Institute, the Furman chapter of “I Am That Girl.”

“I Am That Girl” is an organization dedicated to addressing the emotional, mental, and physical well-being of girls. Her inspiration to launch the program sprouted from Furman’s one-of-a-kind, 10-credit medical ethics and medical sociology program called The Medicine Program. “It completely changed how I view my future in medicine.” After completing the program, she shifted her career path to include a strong emphasis on public health.

Sociology Professor Kristy Maher, one of The Medicine Program co-founders, connected Deshpande with an internship at the South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health, where she was on a behavioral health task force. Deshpande is still on a pre-med track, and will examine health policy and HIV transmission in Botswana in the spring on a May X trip in her ongoing quest to see bigger and bigger pictures.

“I didn’t really understand how the liberal arts can shape your understanding of the world, as a whole, and how you fit into it,” she said. “That’s especially useful in medicine, where it can be easy to focus on the science of it and lose sight of the bigger picture—that health is a function of ethical factors, and sociological factors, and political factors, and to be effective you have to consider all of these things.”