“There is always someone we admire to be.”

USC freshman Neysa Sanghavi (USC Photo)
USC freshman Neysa Sanghavi (USC Photo)

What did you do when you first found out you got into USC?

I was really busy with my IB finals, so I didn’t even bother opening the mail package. Until the orientation, month after my acceptance, I didn’t even know I got a scholarship. I chose USC because it has an excellent premed track. I needed to make sure that if my parents are spending so much on my ‘future’, it is a launching pad that really ensures my growth, both personal and professional, as a person.

What are you most excited to learn/do/experience/etc. while at USC?

I’m really excited to take classes outside my major like CORE 450 and apply its ‘way of thinking’ to my premed classes. I’m also looking forward to working with the USC Shoah Foundation for my next Rwanda project on refugees or rural areas.

What is one thing you brought with you to USC that means the most to you?

I consider myself really lucky to have such a supportive family. Not once have my parents ever stopped me. Even when we weren’t part of the ‘upper middle class,’ my parents have worked really hard to get my sister and me what we wanted. When I was younger, I had a very different perspective of the world around me. I felt insecure all the time. One day my sister sat next to me and went like “you keep looking for happiness outside of you. It comes from within.” So I guess the one thing I brought with me to USC that means the most is a photo of my family.

What piece of advice were you given about starting college that you’ll follow?

“Network across rather than up.” There is always someone we admire to be. I believe that ten years from now, the people around will be the ‘admired.’ This is what studying at USC means to me.

What do you think/hope you’ll be like four years from now?

I think have way too many interests. To list a few:

  • Developmental Economics: distribution channels in isolated regions and how disruptions in transportation of medicines negatively impacted health. Questions like “Is transportation the only reason?” really interest me.
  • During my observational research on malaria under UNHCR and MIDIMAR at Mahama Refugee Camp, Rwanda, I learned about the challenges scientists face while creating a vaccine for a virus that transforms seven times in one life cycle. I also discovered that it is very likely that medicines manufactured in one part of the world are not equally impactful in another as the idea of treatment is personal, subjective and different for each community. The trust in medical ingredients and processes is intertwined with the cultural development of the community. This interaction of culture and scientific thought is a fascinating study in BioEconomics that I intend to  pursue as I explore various facets of the natural world.
  • Additionally, I am studying the impact of government intervention in India’s economy. As part of my Economics Extended Essay (IB diploma), I am conducting surveys on the topic: “To what extent does the price cap on coronary heart stents maximize welfare?”
  • As a PADI AOW Scuba Diver and underwater photographer, I create photo-essay journals that identify marine species I encounter during dives. Over the last two summers, I worked in conservation projects in Costa Rica and Sri Lanka that work towards protecting sea turtles. We learned methods for identifying turtle species, observed them laying eggs, did beach cleaning and built a hatchery to protect the eggs from poachers and predators like raccoons. I also learned about various turtle diseases. I would love to advance this learning, besides researching biomimicry, functional genomics, ocean exploration, and marine conservation.

So at this point, I’m doing everything that interests me. Sometimes it really gets me all confused about what I want to do and who I want to be. I hope to have an idea of what I want to do in my personal and professional plan by the end of my four years at USC.

Neysa Sanghavi, a global health major from Mumbai, India with a Dean’s Leadership Scholarship, has already done numerous humanitarian and conservation projects around the world – from turtle conservation in Costa Rica to researching HIV in former sex workers in India. Her volunteer work with genocide survivors earned her title as the youngest and first ‘Brand Ambassador for Rwanda in India’ by His Excellency, Mr. Ernst Rwamucyo, High Commissioner for Rwanda in India Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.