By Matthew Goncalves ’23

Rithika Senthilkumar ’22 earned dual degrees in Public Health Sciences and Biochemistry with Honors from UMass Amherst. She is passionate about addressing health inequity and disparity in the US through health education and community engagement. Rithika will be attending the University of Virginia School of Medicine this upcoming fall.

In what ways did your undergraduate studies in the SPHHS help you prepare for medical school?

UMass' School of Public Health & Health Sciences provided me with opportunities to extend my education outside of the classroom. I was interested in health equity and accessibility and through internship opportunities at SPHHS, I was able to work closely with underserved populations in Holyoke. These experiences gave me a new understanding of the social determinants and systemic issues impacting patients’ health.

Why are you attending medical school and what are your career goals after you finish?

I am attending medical school because I want to care for and educate patients by building meaningful and longitudinal relationships with them. I am also passionate about addressing and mitigating disparities in healthcare and wish to also be involved in community health or health equity research as a physician.

What kinds of work have you completed as a research fellow working with Dr. Elizabeth Evans in her lab?

I began working with Dr. Evans as an intern for the Holyoke Early Access to Recovery and Treatment (HEART) Program, a substance-use support program at Holyoke District Court. I assisted with the implementation, daily operations, and evaluation of the HEART Program. After graduation, I continued working as a research fellow. I worked on multiple projects evaluating public health interventions for opioid use disorder in both community and justice-involved settings across Western Massachusetts.

Bonus Question: What will you miss most about UMass?

I will miss the people and the relationships I have formed during my four years. I am grateful to have had incredible mentors that invested in my education and helped me grow as a student and as an individual.