Meet Our Emerging Leaders

We invite prospective undergraduate students to submit questions to our team of Emerging Leaders to learn more about their firsthand experiences as students in our program. The students below are available to correspond with prospective students and are happy to answer questions about the program from their perspective as enrolled students.

Please note that questions about admissions or the application process should not be directed to the student ambassadors, but to the NYU GPH Office of Undergraduate Programs at gph.undergrad@nyu.edu.

Do you have a question for our Emerging Leaders?

Emerging Leaders

Meera Arumugam

Senior Majoring in Global Public Health/Applied Psychology

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Evyn Banawoye

Junior Majoring in Global Public Health/Sociology; Minoring in Philosophy and French

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Dehandra Blackwood

Junior Majoring in Global Public Health/Anthropology

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Safiatu Diagana

Junior Majoring in Global Public Health/Nursing

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Awura Gyimah

Senior Majoring in Global Public Health/Communicative Sciences and Disorders

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Mia Lehavi

Senior Majoring in Global Public Health/Biology; Minoring in Chemistry and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies

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Michelle Masiello

Sophomore Majoring in Global Public Health/Applied Psychology

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Emily Mathers

Fourth Year Student in the 4+1 BS Steinhardt/MPH Nutrition GPH

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Jailee Mendo

Junior Majoring in Global Public Health/Sociology; Minoring in Child & Adolescent Mental Health Studies

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Avni Varshneya

Senior Majoring in Global Public Health/Biology

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Angela Zhai

Senior Majoring in Global Public Health/Chemistry

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Meera Arumugam

Hi! My name is Meera Arumugam. I am currently a senior majoring in Global Public Health/Applied Psychology. I was born in the bay area of California and raised in Long Island, New York. My interest in public health arose from the Covid-19 pandemic and its immense impact on the overall population’s mental health. I have had the fortunate opportunity of being a research assistant for the NYU Applied Psychology Department’s ISLAND Lab and a research intern for NYU Langone’s Psychiatry Brain Aging and Sleep Center, both of which focus on mental wellbeing in the context of population health. On campus, I am also a member of Delta Epsilon Mu, the nation’s premier pre-health fraternity, Psi Chi, and Active Minds. Although my overall goal is to become a Clinical child psychologist, I am very intrigued by the scope of public health research and mental health policy (specifically regarding the youth mental health crisis). Overall, I hope to help reduce the overall stigma within the mental health field and emphasize the benefits of mental health therapies and services. In my free time, I love traveling, attending concerts, and cooking. I hope to share my passions within GPH/Applied Psychology with the members of my co-major and create a stronger community for the Undergraduate GPH community!


Evyn Banawoye

Hi! My name is Evyn Banawoye. I was born in Silver Spring, Maryland and grew up in Maryland. I am currently a third-year student at CAS. In addition to GPH Sociology, I am a Philosophy and French minor. I first developed my interest in public health through volunteering at a local hospital in the maternal services ward. With my experience at the hospital, I saw firsthand the advantages and disadvantages of our healthcare system. My career goals entail working in conflict zones in terms of sexual and reproductive health and a public health researcher. At NYU, I am involved in the Arete Fellowship that aims to cultivate conversations surrounding the world's largest issues ranging from public health to morals. In my free time, I love to read fiction novels, go to museums, go on walks, learn new artistic skills, and hang out with my friends. In addition to reading, I love to write poetry and short stories. I have a strong affinity for learning random things and am prone to hyper-fixations on philosophical questions. I hope I can excite you all to the fun intersections of your Global Public Health/Sociology career. I am super excited to learn from others and represent the Global Public Health Sociology students.


Dehandra Blackwood

Hello! My name is Dehandra Blackwood and I am a third-year majoring in Global Public Health and Anthropology. I was born in New York and was raised in Jamaica and Long Island, NY. After moving back to the US at age 13, I immediately became aware of the implications of my identity as a Black woman. I then became very interested in the way race, socioeconomic status, and identity manifests itself in so many areas of life, especially in health. From the role discrimination played in the AIDS and Drug Crisis of the 80s and 90s in New York City to how age-old stereotypes of black women manifest in the treatment they receive under the care of health professionals. It is a pity that there are so many cracks in the health system of a country as advanced as the United States. My hope for the future is to actively work to become a champion of public health for disenfranchised communities. Utilizing my co-major in Anthropology I believe it is best to look to and educate oneself on issues and ideas of the past to find solutions for the future. In my free time, I enjoy listening to music especially while wandering aimlessly around busy cities. I also spend hours watching cat videos to de-stress. During my time as ambassador, I hope to help build a community among my peers and become a voice for any matters that may come up. I also hope to build more interest and awareness of my co-major to encourage more NYU students to pursue.


Safiatu Diagana

Hi, my name is Safiatu Diagana. I was born and raised in Queens, New York! (Shoutout to Queens)! I am currently a junior majoring in Global Public Health/Nursing. What first drew me to public health was understanding myself as a black Muslim woman in America. I have endless opportunities to understand the world around me and it made me realize other women who look like me do not often get the same education, opportunities, or chances that I have gotten simply because of where they live. This spiked my interest as I wanted to learn more about what I can do for these women to improve things such as healthcare and education. From that point, I knew that Global Public Health/Nursing was just for me, inspiring me to become a traveling Labor and Delivery nurse. I want to be the change in the healthcare system that I dream of seeing; I want to advocate and aid women as they navigate through life. Currently, at NYU, I am the social media chair for the Organization of Black Women (OBW), Black Muslim Initiative (BMI), Nursing Students for Global Health (NSGH), and Black Student Nurses Association (BSNA). Additionally, through the Collegiate Research Initiative (CRI) at NYU, I have the incredible opportunity to volunteer at Elmhurst Hospital to improve overall patient experience. Lastly, I plan to become a doula who is a trained professional who assists in physical and emotional support for mothers during childbirth during my winter break.


Awura Gyimah

Hello! My name is Awura, phonetically pronounced "uh-war-uh" or like the princess. I am a senior in Steinhardt studying Global Public Health and Communicative sciences and disorders- on the pre-med track. I am Ghanaian! I was raised in New Jersey and later moved to Colorado. A few of my interests include decorating, traveling and playing soccer. I am passionate about public health and medicine. From a young age, I immersed myself in different pre-collegiate health programs which helped further expand my interest in public health. One of my most memorable experiences was serving at the Ronald McDonald house where parents who have children in hospitals are catered to. Here, I engaged in activities with children of these parents and endowed a comforting environment to families. Coming to NYU, I chose to dive into Communicative Sciences and Disorders, as an individual close to me suffered from motor speech disorders. I wanted to explore CSD with hopes of being able to learn more about motor speech disorders. However, I still sought to satiate my interest for healthcare and herd immunity. When I found out about GPH and that I could explore both of my interests simultaneously, I did not hesitate to do this. Currently, I am an intern at the NYU Langone Hospital/Belleview hospital, providing resources to women battling substance use and addiction through a texting toolkit that better informs patients of resources at their disposal. Here at NYU, I serve as an RA in Residential Life & Housing Services, and hold membership in many clubs around campus. My future plans include exploring maternal morbidity in underprivileged areas through an obstetrics and gynecology lens. I am so excited to be representing the School of Global Public Health as a GPH/CSD Undergraduate Ambassador and hope to serve as a bridge between Steinhardt and the School of GPH.


Mia Lehavi

Hi! My name is Mia Lehavi. I am currently a senior at NYU majoring in Global Public Health/Biology, and have minors in Chemistry and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies. I was born in NYC and raised in Newport Beach, California. I am a first-generation American with what I’d refer to as a “global” background, as my mom is French and my dad is Israeli. Being raised by immigrant parents played a considerable role in my choice to study Global Public Health at NYU. I have been interested in pursuing a career in medicine for as long as I can remember, and I have loved learning more about the public health issues burdening our country and the world through various GPH courses I’ve taken so far. As of now, my hope is to attend medical school and become a child and adolescent psychiatrist. Through my GPH courses, I’ve realized there is a lack of public health education in the medical field. I hope to ultimately tie my public health background to my psychiatry aspirations by advocating for equitable mental health care among children and adolescents of all socio-economic backgrounds. I am a registered EMT and a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority at NYU. In my free time, I love walking around Central Park, watching Criminal Minds, playing with my dog Sabina, and going to SoulCycle! I particularly love the GPH/Biology program because it has provided me with two angles to analyze my (hopefully) future career in medicine: the biological aspect and the community-based aspect. I hope to share my love for this concentration with my co-major community, and to show students who are interested in pursuing anything in the healthcare field the importance of learning about public health matters. 


Michelle Masiello

Hi! My name is Michelle, and I’m a second-year student at Steinhardt studying Applied Psychology and Global Public Health. I was born and raised in New Jersey, and it was there in my hometown that I was able to first gain exposure to the world of public health. Through involvement with my local first aid and rescue squad and independent research organizations, I learned more about disparities within the healthcare system, especially with regard to mental health resources. This exposure to the disadvantages and inequities within the healthcare system prompted my search for a program that would allow me to take steps to address these issues and led me to NYU. Given the interdisciplinary nature of public health, learning to think at the intersection of multiple disciplines is an essential component. In the future, I hope to combine my interests in psychology and global public health to promote equal access to mental health resources in the United States and beyond. At NYU, I serve as Sophomore Class President within Steinhardt Undergraduate Student Government and currently work as a research assistant in the Researching Inequity in Society Ecologically (R.I.S.E) Lab. In my free time, I love exploring the city, baking, and spending time with friends. I am thrilled to be serving as a GPH Undergraduate Ambassador and a representative for GPH/Applied Psychology students. Through my position, I hope to amplify student voices and work closely with my peers to develop initiatives to enrich the undergraduate GPH experience and ensure it is as rewarding as possible.


Emily Mathers

Hi, my name is Emily Mathers.  I was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. I am currently a fourth year student in the accelerated BS GPH/Nutrition and Dietetics and MPH Public Health Nutrition Program. My first year at NYU, I studied abroad in Paris, France as part of the Liberal Studies First Year Away Program. It was during my time abroad that I developed an interest in public health. Part of my Writing II class was to write a research paper on any topic relating to Cosmopolitanism and France. For my paper I chose to write about the French smoking culture and the environmental and health impacts. It was this paper that inspired me to add Global Public Health to my major. My goals after completing my MPH are to attend Law School and work in public health law/policy. At NYU I am involved in the club Nutrition Without Borders, a member of Delta Gamma, and a member of the club running team. and outside of NYU I volunteer with the New York Road Runners and I am a digital nutrition marketing intern at Uplift Food. In my free time I enjoy running, hiking, thrifting, lifting, watching football and reading. A fun fact about me is that I’ve run three marathons and twelve half marathons.  I am really excited to be representing the College of Global Public Health as an Undergraduate Ambassador and help build a stronger community.


Jailee Mendo

Hey everyone! My name is Jailee Mendo. I’m Dominican & Peruvian born and I was raised in Brooklyn, New York. I am studying Global Public Health/Sociology on the pre-health track with a minor in child & adolescent mental health studies. I am interested in public health because I’ve seen in my community the lack of access to care, and I want to help change that. My brother has autism and struggles at the doctors/ dentists because he’s sensitive to noises. The difficulties health professionals have appropriately tending to my brother exposed me to the lack of training they have for meeting the needs of patients with disabilities. I also have a strong interest in nutrition and its relation to preventing chronic illnesses/ alleviating mental illnesses. I hope that with further research I find the right knowledge to help, especially for cancer and autism. Currently I’m involved in the Academic Achievement’s Program as a mentor, and I serve on the community service committee. I’m also the social media chair of Bella Quisqueya, a Dominican club at NYU. Lastly, I am a Summer Health Professions Enrichment Program ambassador. Furthermore, I am a residence assistant at NYU Third North. Other than my school related interests, I like watching cooking videos, fashion hauls, and natural remedies that can be done at home and hanging out with my family and friends. Working with the GPH team and community to serve those within my co-major will increase awareness of the disparities we need to focus on while intertwining interests.


Avni Varshneya

Hi! My name is Avni. I am currently a senior at NYU majoring in Global Public Health/Biology. I was born in Hong Kong and grew up in China, Singapore, and Ohio, and I am originally Indian. My interest in public health stems from being raised in different countries and cultures where I was exposed to different global health environments. I have seen firsthand the disparities in health care access across the world and improving this is something I want to strive towards with my career. At NYU, I’ve been involved in Peer Health Exchange, which is one way I’ve been trying to advocate for youth access and agency for health. Outside of NYU, I am involved in escorting patients into the Bronx Abortion Clinic, which is another way I am seeking to improve access to reproductive care. In my free time, I love exploring New York, especially visiting museums and trying new local restaurants! I hope to serve you all in the biology/GPH co-major by guiding and mentoring you through your course requirements and promoting opportunities to meet and connect with other GPH peers. This is my senior year, and I really look forward to meeting more people, building relationships, and strengthening the GPH community before I leave!


Angela Zhai

Hi, my name is Angela! I’m from Westport, CT and I transferred to NYU my sophomore year from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I am a Global Public Health and Chemistry major on a pre-medicine track. I was drawn to the global public health major due to its dynamic combination of material from humanities and STEM backgrounds, as well as the way that it provides the unique ability to concentrate on specific areas of interest. I’m particularly interested in epidemiology, dermatology, and women’s health. To satisfy my experiential learning requirement, I interned at Tell Every Amazing Lady About Ovarian Cancer (T.E.A.L), where I became well acquainted with the signs, symptoms, and risk factors of ovarian cancer as well as the barriers to care which many women with ovarian cancer face. I hope to reduce these kinds of challenges for underrepresented populations seeking healthcare and to diminish the gender biases which women often encounter in the medical field. Over the summer, I worked closely with Dr. Marybec Griffin and Dr. Adele Fournet on a research paper exploring the effect of female writing and production upon the representation of sexuality in pop and R&B/hip hop songs. In my free time, I enjoy making art, watching movies, going to concerts, and exploring the city! I look forward to working with NYU undergraduate programs to support GPH/Chemistry majors with resources, advising, career opportunities, and a network of fellow GPH students and faculty.