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PAU Community Remembers PhD Student Anika Mehta

Anika Mehta

Palo Alto University (PAU) faculty, advisors and fellow students from across the country remembered PhD student Anika Mehta during a celebration of her life on May 21. Mehta, who passed away in January 2023, was described as dedicated, kind, positive, excited about her work, and possessing a great sense of humor.

“In class, she was always eager, always with her hand up, always engaged with the material, wanting to know more,” said professor Robert Friedberg, PhD, who met Mehta when she was applying to PAU and later became both her academic and research advisor. He remembered her as vibrant, always bringing light to her interactions with others, having a sense of humor even in times of stress, and being a wonderful collaborator. “She touched a lot of people. She was just a delight to work with.”

Torrey Creed, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and Mehta’s advisor while she was a student there, said Anika was not just a research assistant, but a valued colleague and a standout among her young, bright, driven, caring cohort. “Her love for family, friends, and for her communities was such a powerful force and that force has left a forever mark on this world,” Creed said.

Fellow students shared video messages at the Celebration of Life on the 21st, describing memories of Mehta and offering condolences to her family. Many others shared memories and stories at the gathering as well. 

Genevieve Arnaut, PhD, PsyD, and Director of Clinical Training in the PAU PhD Program, spoke at the memorial. “Anika was really loved by teachers and by her peers. She wanted to be the best that she could be and she was an absolutely amazing student here,” Arnaut said.

“It's so important that we gather when we lose someone so special to us,”  said President Maureen O’Connor. “We're filled with deep sorrow and loss. How many youths could have been helped by this brilliant young psychologist? It's just heartbreaking to think she is no longer with us.”

Dr. O’Connor then read a poem, “Island,” by Langston Hughes:

Wave of sorrow,

Do not drown me now:

I see the island

Still ahead somehow.

I see the island

And its sands are fair:

Wave of sorrow,

Take me there.

Anika will posthumously receive a doctoral degree in clinical psychology during PAU’s commencement ceremony on June 17.