Rupal Shah Gets Energized from Helping Others
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 9/5/2006
(By Lisa Garrett)
CLEMSON --- Rupal Shah lives her life by her to-do lists and they grow every day.
Her days are filled with master’s-level classes in Microbiology and Biological Sciences at Clemson University, teaching labs, conducting research for her master’s thesis, volunteering for the Pickens County American Red Cross in Easley, the Hospice of the Foothills in Seneca and serving as president of two organizations on campus (the Biological Sciences Graduate Student Association and the Association for India’s Development).
She’s currently a teaching assistant at Clemson for the Anatomy and Physiology Laboratory, and her thesis involves researching the antibacterial properties of Titanium Dioxide nanoparticles.
She’s a volunteer instructor for First Aid, CPR and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) instructor for the American Red Cross and twice received the American Red Cross’s Health and Safety Services Volunteer of the Year Award for Pickens County.
Earlier this year, she received Clemson’s prestigious Walter T. Cox Student Award for Community Outreach and Excellence in Leadership.
She spent both fall and spring breaks in Gulfport, Mississippi, participating in Katrina relief projects and never felt cheated for forfeiting time off and not heading to Cancun or Florida for some rest and relaxation. Instead, Shah, who co-facilitated and coordinated the last trip, recalls the last visit and says, “There’s still so much to be done.”
“Time management -- it keeps me sane, and I get energized from helping people,” said the 23-year-old Clemson resident who plans to go to medical school following her graduation from Clemson next year. Her participation in a medical missions trip to Panama, Central America, with a team of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals inspired her to specialize in rural medicine and infectious diseases when she enters medical school.
Shah and her family moved to the United States in 1998 from Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, East Africa. She attended D.W. Daniel High School for her senior year and after graduation went on to Southern Wesleyan University to study. Along the way, her Dad suggested she complement her degree with certificates in Electrocardiography and Phlebotomy at Tri-County Technical College. “Those certificates have served me well. And I couldn’t have gotten that kind of training at a four-year university. If you are passionate about your goals in life, you enjoy following every step to enhance your way to those goals.”
She graduated from SWU in May 2004 with a B.S. in Biology, a B.A. in Chemistry and a minor in mathematics. She was the first graduate of SWU’s Honor’s Program (she graduated magna cum laude in four years with two baccalaureate degrees, one minor and an honor’s project she conducted in collaboration with the Cardiology Department at Oconee Memorial Hospital).
During the honors convocation, she received the Gladys Glover Parker Award for Academic Excellence and Outstanding Citizenship, which is awarded to one female student of the graduating class.
She was hired right away at Oconee Memorial after graduating from Tri-County in 2001 and still works there as an electrocardiography technician and as a phlebotomist. An essay she wrote about how her work as an electrocardiography technician allows her to understand and empathize with her patients recently won her the award for the Providence Heart Institute’s Healthy Heart competition. “After working at OMH for five years, I have started writing down my special patient interactions in a journal for myself because each experience teaches me something different,” she said.
“There is so much need in this world,” she said. “I enjoy my free time, but at the same time, I realize there is always so much to do.”
She volunteers weekly at Hospice of the Foothills in Seneca as a patient care volunteer. “It’s important to show them that you care. I feel this experience will help me as a physician. It’s very uplifting for me to see the love and commitment between family members and their desire to care for each other. My current patient has a daughter who cares for her mother dearly, and she is my role model because I want to be able to take care of my mother in the same way when she needs me some day, too,” she said.
“You can get knowledge from studies, but books don’t teach you what extracurricular experiences teach you. It’s supplemental to textbooks. You see the human side of it all. You see the big picture and realize what an important role you play as a contributing individual. I don’t feel drained by my schedule. I get invigorated by my work.”
Despite a seemingly breakneck schedule, she says she isn’t always in a rush and has time for friends and family. “Time management keeps me sane. I do get stressed from my schedule sometimes, but I get my batteries recharged by focusing my energy on someone else. My problems are nothing compared to many persons’ problems out there. I get energized from helping others.”
Once committed to a project, she gives 100 percent. “I don’t want to get involved with something just to include it as a resume builder. I do what I do because I enjoy it,” said Shah, who speaks four languages -- English, Swahili, Hindi and Gujrati).
Her list grows as she speaks. “I want to learn Spanish. I want to work in the villages of Central and South America. I want to establish an educational scholarship in my parents’ names at SWU. I want to write a book on how to be a good mentor. I want to go on a medical missions trip to Tanzania. I want to establish a home for abused and neglected children and orphans who will make sure the children are given all opportunities to establish themselves as strong adults. The list goes on, and I am, hopefully, working towards my goals.
“Everything I’ve done so far is because I’ve had good mentors in my life - while studying, while researching, while working and while volunteering. I give all credit to my mentors -- my parents, my siblings, my advisors at SWU and Clemson University, my supervisors at OMH, the Pickens County Red Cross, the Hospice of the Foothills and Helping Hands Childrens Home and many more,” she said.