Diksha posing by a window with a view of the city skyline

Diksha Deshmukh at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene offices in Long Island City. Portraits by Tracey Friedman.

For Diksha Deshmukh, the best part of being selected as an Epi Scholar and HRTP intern—prestigious summer placements for top graduate epidemiology students at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene—is the sense of purpose that comes with the role. Through her data analysis and research for the Communicable Disease Bureau's Zoonotic and Vector Borne Diseases Unit, she knows she is having a direct impact on the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers.

Diksha takes a selfie outside her office building

On the job shots courtesy of Diksha Deshmukh.

Diksha sittnig at her desk

Diksha, who describes herself as “wholeheartedly committed to public health,” says she dreams of becoming not just any epidemiologist, but a visionary one who would “lead a global health revolution to eradicate the threats that plague humanity.” And this summer she’s getting a chance to meet the kind of policymakers and researchers she hopes to collaborate with in the the future, including DOH Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan.  

public health workers doing fieldwork in PPE

public health workers doing field work in PPE

Other perks include access to the agency’s extensive public health library and expansive skyline views from its Long Island City offices. (The 22th floor view is a favorite for lunch breaks.)

And while the work is its ultimately own reward, Diksha jokes that she’s secretly holding out hope for a very specific swag item as a bonus: a cape emblazoned with the DOH logo. “Imagine striding through the city streets, donning my superhero cape, and inspiring conversations about public health,” she says. “It would be epic!”

Read more of Diksha's reflections below. 

Diksha standing by her desk in a cubicle

Photo by Tracey Friedman.

What skill are you most excited about developing through this internship?
Well, if I had to pick one skill that's got me buzzing with excitement, it would be my superpower of transforming raw data into a symphony of insights! I'm talking about data analysis. I can't wait to dive into those complex datasets like a detective solving a mystery, uncovering hidden patterns, and unleashing the power of numbers to guide evidence-based decisions in the world of public health.

Which movie best illustrates your career ambitions?
Contagion. While the movie showcases a fictional pandemic, it highlights the critical role of epidemiologists and public health professionals in understanding and containing infectious diseases. The film emphasizes the importance of collaboration, data analysis, and rapid response in controlling outbreaks. It's a reminder of the real-world challenges we face in public health and the dedication required to protect communities.

Who has helped you get to this point?
Being the first student from NYU's School of Global Public Health to get into the highly competitor Epi Scholar and HRTP internship was a big thing for me, my family, and everyone at school. I couldn’t have done it without my parents, and the staff at NYU GPH, and my internship Preceptor Ryan MacDonald.  This internship is not just a stepping stone. I am ready to face challenges head-on, absorb knowledge like a sponge, and seize every opportunity to contribute to the well-being of communities. It's the first chapter in my journey to become a true champion of public health, and I can't wait to inspire others to join me on this incredible path.