Skip to main content


I Absolutely Can and Will

Photo by Justin Kunimoto

by Shreya Khuntia
29 years old
Washington, D.C.

I am an infectious disease epidemiologist, which is like a disease detective, and work at a health department that works closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fighting on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, I talk to a lot of people who have the coronavirus and try to understand how we can help them, through giving the right guidance and recommendations.

I also go to hospitals and correctional facilities to educate people about infection control practices. I have been working 16-hour days for several months, which is extremely challenging. But I realized that because of my Buddhist practice, I could keep fighting every day in one of the toughest disease responses I have ever been in.

I am a new team leader with the responsibility of training others. Those I’m training often feel like they can’t do it, overwhelmed by how rapidly the response is changing. Through my experiences in the SGI as a Byakuren (a behind-the-scenes training and support group for young women) and as a young women’s leader, I’ve been able to support all those who are fighting alongside me at our workplace. I do my best to give them hope by reminding them that we are absolutely changing the world by fighting on the front lines.

To me, “One Youth. Infinite Hope.” means I absolutely can, and I absolutely will. No matter what happens, it all comes down to me standing up at this time to be the inspiration for one more person to believe in the power of their own life. This is how I will repay my debt of gratitude to my mentor, Ikeda Sensei, and share his vision and philosophy of peace and happiness with other young people.

Our Humanity Is Revealed Through Empathy

8 Lessons on Life From Nichiren to Shijo Kingo