Nikita Pradhan, a Grand Canyon University Honors College alumna from Nogales, Arizona, is not wasting any time. After earning her degree in healthcare administration, Pradhan began working on the Zika virus project at the Santa Cruz County Health Department (SCCHD) as well as chemical spill research with Southeast Arizona Area Health Education Center (SAAHEC).
Pradhan’s internships include a myriad of tasks and opportunities, “My favorite task was analyzing the surveys and breeding mosquitos [at the SCCHD]. It was a lot of fun. I felt like a disease detective!”
Performing research for the Zika virus is not easy work. “The most challenging part about working on the Zika virus project was being patient to get results. We started trapping mosquito eggs to speciate them and then further test for the virus. We have a total of 40 mosquito traps in the Santa Cruz County. Every Monday we go out to the field, check if we caught any eggs and set new traps in the same location.”
Pradhan mentioned that the most rewarding part of her internship, however, is shadowing an epidemiologist every day, which has made her more passionate about the career field she is pursuing.
Reviewing research about the chemical spill became a fulfilling task for Pradhan. “The most rewarding part about working at SEAHEC was knowing that I was able to help proceed the study to a next level. My main task at SEAHEC was to enter and analyze 300 surveys that were conducted in the surrounding areas of the chemical spill. As part of the preliminary study, I helped analyze those surveys and look for trends and frequencies of certain symptoms that might have been caused due to the chemical spill.”
During her undergraduate career as an honors student, Pradhan attributed her passion for science to her honors courses, extracurricular involvement and Honors College opportunities. Sophomore year, Pradhan became so intrigued by microorganisms in her honors microbiology class that she decided to pursue epidemiology. Furthermore, her involvement in AzHOSA helped her stay focused on her goals.
Pradhan’s GCU Lounge student worker position helped her earn great leadership experience, confidence and networking skills that helped her meet and receive academic and professional mentorship from faculty members and managers at GCU. Inclusively, Pradhan took advantage of the Honors College exclusive PAC Boot Camp, which played a significant role in Pradhan’s ability to earn her current internships and future professional opportunities.
Pradhan has the following pieces of advice to all honors students, particularly those in STEM fields:
Knock on every door and say yes to all opportunities in your field of study.
“It was a challenge to get good grades, have a job and attend all club activities. In my senior year at GCU, I was volunteering at Banner Health University Medical Center. I networked with the business development director of PeriOp and Procedural Services, and she offered me an internship position without me applying to it. From this experience I learned that you just need to knock on every door – you never know which one is going to open for you.”
Keep your mind open about the field.
“Although there are mainstream majors like pre-med and computer science, there are a lot of other branches within the field which can be pursued as a STEM major. These opportunities can be explored when students network, join clubs and talk to the professors. Lectures and homework assignments can only give theoretical knowledge, but joining clubs related to the STEM field will help you grow into a well-rounded individual who is ready to face any challenges.”
Take advantage of GCU’s Career Services!
“One might have all the skillsets required for a job or an internship, but if one does not know how to present those skillsets, it can cost an opportunity of a lifetime. It is easy to forget about the little things that can make a huge difference in your resume or your interviewing skills. Career Services truly helped me gather all my skills and present them in a manner that not only helped me get accepted into grad schools, but also helped me get many internship and job offers right after I graduated from GCU!”
After completing her current internships, Pradhan will be preparing to attend grad school at San Diego State University to pursue a Master of Public Health with an epidemiology concentration as she aims to work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention afterwards. Pradhan was also accepted into Georgia State University and the University of Nevada, Reno.
Grand Canyon University offers STEM degrees in fields like biology, engineering, healthcare and more. Find out more about our degree programs and the Honors College by visiting our website or contacting us today.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.