Amazing Student: Akash Shah

photo of man in lab

Shah_Akash.jpgOrientation leader and future cardiothoracic surgeon Akash Shah has advanced his passion to change the world and discovered a way to work toward that goal every day:

Degree objective:

B.S. in biology with neuroscience emphasis
B.S. in cell biology

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

My time at the university has been filled with accomplishments, leadership and academic opportunities, and making lifelong friendships. Attending UGA has been more than a dream come true, and although it has been an exceptional experience, I have struggled with an autoimmune disease during my time here which has helped push me to excel in every single thing I do. 

My first year at UGA was marked by involvement in a few organizations that have shaped the person I am today. The first of those organizations was Georgia Daze, a minority recruitment organization on campus. Through Georgia Daze, I had the opportunity to host an accepted student, mentor him, and during his visit he informed me that his visit convinced him to attend UGA. The second of these organizations was UGA Miracle, an on-campus philanthropy organization. I was selected as a member of the Hospital Relations Committee and made multiple visits to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to volunteer for the children in the comprehensive inpatient rehab unit. During this experience, I met children who have since changed my life in more ways that I can mention. The summer after my first year, I participated in research at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Scottish Rite under Dr. Stanley Cohen during which I helped develop and analyze results from a study using alternative care methods to treat patients who suffered from numerous digestive disorders, including Crohn’s disease, which I personally struggle with. 

My second year was marked by increasing leadership involvement on campus through two organizations. I served as the Fundraising Committee lead for the Hospital Relations Committee of UGA Miracle. Through this opportunity, I was able to coordinate hospital visits to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, while also directing a committee of more than 80 people to raise over $60,000, which contributed to an organization-wide total of over $614,000.  I also served as the health chair of the UGA chapter of the NAACP. This gave me the chance to lead numerous programs bringing attention to health problems affecting minority communities as well as social justice issues. The summer after my second year was marked by the amazing opportunity to shadow and sit in on meetings with Dr. Allen Dollar, chief of cardiology at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.
During my third year, I was given the opportunity to lead the UGA chapter of the NAACP as president. This was one opportunity that changed my life in numerous ways and has since become one of my largest passions. I was the first non-African-American president in chapter history and my term was marked by a seven-fold increase in membership, fundraising of over $6,000 to take a bus of 50 UGA students to the Million Man March in Washington, D.C., and receiving a SOAR award for that trip in conjunction with UGA’s Black Male Leadership Society. That year, I also received the John and Frances Mangan Family Scholarship through the Disability Resource Center on campus. The fall of my third year as well as my fourth year, I assisted the Office of the President and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions with a new initiative called Road Dawgs, a program in which we traveled to schools we don’t typically receive students from and tell them about the University of Georgia as well as college in general in hopes that they attend the university. The summer after my third year, I was able to shadow Dr. Brent Keeling, a cardiothoracic surgeon, at Grady Memorial Hospital.
During my fourth year, I was provided with opportunities that have shaped my time at UGA. Despite being hospitalized for a week and struggling through fall semester due to a flare-up of my auto-immune disease, I was not only able to thrive academically with my highest semester GPA, but was also selected as an orientation leader for New Student Orientation and have the amazing opportunity to impact the lives of thousands of new students. This year, I began participating in faculty-mentored research through the department of veterinary pathology, doing research on and working on a grant sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense. Toward the end of this year, I started a new student organization with two amazing individuals with the goal of bridging gaps on campus between organizations that may not usually associate.

A fantastic young man with a great future, who will make the future brighter for many beyond himself. Have great year, Mr Shah.