Summer Intern Series: Deepika Khanna

University: University of Illinois at Chicago
Major/s: Biology
Year: Class of 2018
Hometown: Naperville, Illinois

What is your story?
In fourth grade, after meeting a surgeon came into our classroom with a heart in a jar to explain his profession, I decided that I wanted to be a doctor. This was backed by childlike fascination and curiosity and was also supported by my parents’ excitement that I could potentially be the first doctor on both sides of the family. My decision was never challenged throughout middle school or high school. I was never asked “why?” or “what drives you?”. Rather, I saw a difficult but clearly laid out path ahead of me, one that I believed I could conquer with hard work and a love for science. So, I enrolled in a direct medical program at UIC and set out to conquer.

It was not until I stumbled upon an unexpected position in university that I truly realized how lost I was in my career pursuits, and how much I had yet to ground myself in a role of potential impact. I became a research coordinator for UIC’s Center for Global Health during my freshman year, which allowed me to join teams working on various impact projects. One project focused on compiling stories of people living in communities with barriers to health. Reading these stories allowed me to see how many communities were struggling to be heard and needed their voices to be amplified in order for change to occur. I began to ground myself in projects like these, feeling connected to such initiatives that dug deep to identify the roots of disparities and determinants of health. Since beginning this position, I have sought to find my own role in the movement for global health equity. In starting a chapter of GlobeMed at UIC, I was able to find similarly motivated people and further learn from them.

My commitment to pursuing medicine has yet to waver and I am moving closer to finding a role in this field that will ground me in my core beliefs. I believe it essential for medical professionals to serve as advocates for those who need change but are obstructed by power structures and barriers. That is who I wish to be in my career.

How has GlobeMed fit into that picture up to this point? What roles have you played in your chapter?
As I started to get more immersed in research with UIC’s Center for Global Health, I noticed that the impact projects offered multiple opportunities for medical and graduate students to get involved. However, there lacked a similar opportunity to connect with undergraduate students. After discussing it with my mentor at CGH, he introduced me to GlobeMed with the belief that it could create this needed space for dialogue and engagement on our undergraduate campus. I reached out the team at Global Headquarters and worked with them to build a chapter at UIC. In the past year, we have established ourselves on campus with a full E-Board and general members and developed a partnership with FORUDEF in Cameroon and held many fundraising events that allowed us to surpass our goal in supporting their maternal care project. As a chapter founder and co-president, I’m extremely proud of how far we’ve come in the past year and can’t wait to watch this young chapter continue to grow and expand its impact.

Do you know what you’d like to do in the future?
I recently graduated with a B.S. in biology and a music minor. My intention is to pursue a degree in medicine on a global health track so as to continue integrating my core values and beliefs into my developing career.

What’s your role at Global Headquarters this summer?
I’m serving as a Fundraising & Development fellow. This role involves researching prospective donors whose missions and core values align with those of GlobeMed in order to receive holistic support that will allow GlobeMed’s upcoming and existing initiatives to develop. I’m excited to brainstorm new and exciting avenues of financial support. I will also be helping to strengthen and maintain relationships with current donors. There are a lot of updates and information on the fundraising front that I will work to streamline this through a more accessible and navigable platform. Finally, I will be providing support in the planning of programs such as Leadership Institute and Summit!

What personal significance does GlobeMed’s mission bring to you?
As a young person who has struggled to find a voice and role of impact, I am grateful to GlobeMed for empowering motivated young people to become leaders right from the beginning of their careers. This organization brings together people from all backgrounds, united under the belief in and commitment to a world where global health equity exists. However, they also seek to challenge the way that change occurs through means of discussion and partnerships. GlobeMed’s mission has taught me that in order to effectively combat health disparities, it is essential to truly understand underlying structures of powers and barriers that exist and work to rethink them alongside a network of other motivated people.

What are you most excited about doing in a new city for the summer?
I’m excited to explore more of Evanston and all of its food and beauty! Although I’ll still be living in Chicago, I hope to spend some time in Evanston with the other fellows and show them around Chicago!

GlobeMed NFP