Divya Mehrish

School: Stanford University

Major: Comparative Literature & Science, Technology, and Society

Hometown: New York, NY

My name is Divya Mehrish, and I am a student at Stanford University. Fascinated by interdisciplinary studies, I am pursuing a double major in Comparative Literature and Science, Technology, and Society. I was diagnosed with fulminant Ulcerative Colitis in 2015, when I was thirteen years old. Just avoiding a colectomy, I struggled through colonoscopies, trials of various biologics, and extensive hospitalizations. It was then that storytelling became my vessel. Building new universes and characters, I reinterpreted difficult memories from new perspectives. I learned to feel outside of myself. Creative writing is a form of cathartic communication—it’s a way to tell one’s story. I’ve used writing to teach others about empathy, promote understanding about chronic illness, and reduce stigma. Writing has helped me advocate for myself at school, at home, and in medical settings. My experiences have helped me appreciate that each person faces unique circumstances, struggling in their own way. The connections I have formed with others inspire me to use language with a sensitive heart and to embolden others to be revolutionary with their own words. To that end, I plan to focus on Medical Humanities. This field draws on the humanities’ creative and intellectual strengths to influence healthcare and day-to-day medical practice by focusing on the humanity behind a patient’s unique experience with illness. I want to revolutionize how medicine engages—physically, emotionally, and spiritually—with patients. My ulcerative colitis has become my platform, my secret weapon—the strength I’ve gained in my journey has made me more confident in my voice and more resilient. But while these experiences contribute to my identity, they do not define me. I’m more than a chronic illness. I’m an individual who grows, learns, and evolves daily.