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Anika Mehta Family Honors Daughter with Gift to University

Anika Mehta

When PhD student Anika Mehta passed away in early 2023, friends, faculty, and staff remembered her as intelligent, collaborative, and compassionate. Anika was a warm, empathetic light in the Palo Alto University (PAU) community. It’s this same feeling her family hopes to evoke by establishing the Anika Mehta Student Success Center in the PAU library.

Anika’s family members – mom Bhavna, father Harshad, and sister Sonali – have made a generous gift to PAU. The plan is to create a comfortable space for studying, meditation, and collaboration, complete with a beverage and snack area, artwork, and new furniture.

Additionally, Anika's  family is generously making another gift to PAU, establishing the Anika Mehta Endowed Scholarship fund.

It seems even from an early age, Anika was destined to be a great therapist.

Bhavna Mehta remembers her daughter asking friends of the family, especially those visiting from India, intuitively empathetic questions. Mrs. Mehta said, “She would ask, ‘Do you like it here? Do you miss your home? Do you miss your family?’ Starting from a preschool age she showed signs of caring for others. Even at that early age she was not concerned about her needs, but those of others. She was the same with her family. Anika was all about you.”

Sonali Mehta remembers coming home from school when she and Anika were children. Anika, the older of the two, would ask about her day and spend hours processing with patience, warmth, and an eye for solutions.

Anika attended Barnard College and The University of Pennsylvania before PAU. She was initially interested in studying medicine and becoming a psychiatrist but eventually chose to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology so she could interact with people and cultivate a human touch with her clients. “She did her own research and talked to her mentors and figured out that PAU is not only the best in training clinical psychologists, but she thought it was a cozy, familial campus in which she really fit in.” Dr. Harshad and Mrs. Bhavna remember with pride.

“She was also very, very passionate about learning,” her sister said. “Even if classes seemed impossible, she had an incredible learning curve. Every year she would come to me and say, ‘this year I learned to learn in a new way!’ I still have her notes, and they're the most organized, beautifully highlighted, with perfect handwriting. My school notes are illegible - I can't even read them! But her notes could be used as teaching materials. She was so passionate about learning and then and then passing that knowledge to other people in a way that would truly enrich their lives,”

The Anika Mehta Student Success Center will provide a new space for students to study together, share notes, work with the PAU Student Success team, and encourage each other through their studies. This will extend Anika’s legacy to future generations of psychologists and counselors.

The Center will be in the Omar Seddiqui Library on the Palo Alto campus. “She loved libraries,” Mrs. Bhavna said. “Anywhere we went, she would always find a library, spending hours there gaining inspiration and completing her work. And so, creating a space in the library where students can feel good and truly connect, this is what she would have loved.”

Anika posthumously received a doctoral degree in clinical psychology during PAU’s commencement ceremony on June 17, 2023.

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