Akash Shah’s greatest experience at UGA has been working as an orientation leader and guiding new students through their transition. He’s passionate about having an impact on at least one life in a positive manner every day to help change the world, one step at a time.
Stone Mountain, GA
Chamblee High School
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.
This summer, I’m serving as an orientation leader for UGA New Student Orientation. Along with a team of 11 other rock stars who are the first faces that new students see when they come on campus for orientation, we not only welcome them, but help guide them through the transition and their time here at UGA.
During the school year, I serve as a resident assistant for University Housing in the Brandon Oaks community of University Village. I oversee the programming, living experience and overall support of the undergraduate students, graduate students and families who live in the community.
I worked my first and second year at Starbucks as a barista and had an amazing time working with a diverse group of people and meeting new customers every day!
Family Ties to UGA:
My older brother was a Double Dawg! He graduated with a degree in political science and then went to law school here. He loved the university and was so involved here and after school, that his success has pushed me to make sure I do better than him in everything I do; we’re pretty competitive.
I chose to attend UGA because…
… the environment here is like no other. I remember only visiting a few times when my brother was here, but being completely mesmerized by the community and campus when I visited. The people at UGA are like no other and they help shape a community that is one that I will never forget. Between the community, the beautiful campus, the amazing academics, outstanding athletics, and it being the perfect distance between my house and the Classic City, I wasn’t able to consider anywhere else my home.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
When I’m on campus, I love walking around and talking to people. One of my favorite places to go converse are the couches in Tate next to Bulldog Café and Tate Theatre. I also love simply going to Herty Field and taking some alone time by the fountain on a beautiful fall day.
When I have free time, I like…
… to browse the web for photos of different cities in the world that I haven’t been able to travel to yet. I would love to travel the world at some point in my life. Not only this, but I feel as if photography is one of the most beautiful inventions we have access to. A picture truly is worth a thousand words. I also love searching online for new music. Between discovering new pictures and new music, I get an escape from whatever happens to be going on in the world at the time.
The craziest thing I've done is…
My third year summer, a group of friends and I decided to wait in line for six hours to go to a $1 J. Cole concert.
My favorite place to study is…
… the law library. I particularly love the larger room downstairs with the glass panels, as well as the room downstairs that is completely outdoors. I’m a huge fan of being able to study with a view, and the law library provides me with an amazing opportunity to do that while also in an environment that’s not too quiet or too loud.
My favorite professor is…
My time here at UGA has been enhanced by so many amazing professors, but if I had to pick one it would be Dr. Elizabeth Uhl in veterinary pathology. She has changed the course of my life. Taking the class that she offered and then working with her on research on an extremely complex project has forced me to grow up quickly, while allowing me to lean on her amazing mentorship. Dr. Uhl has time and time again pushed me in the right direction, has taught me what it looks like to “get up” after you fall, and has just been a source of conversation, growth and openness for me in the time that I’ve known her. I could not be more thankful for the opportunity to learn from and to work with and be mentored by her.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
… former President Barack Obama. President Obama has an uncanny ability to bring people together and allow them to feel loved. Spending an afternoon him with would allow me to thank him for his service to this country, learn about what motivates him and also just collect a few life lessons he learned during his time as president.
If I knew I could not fail, I would…
… travel the world as a professional photographer. Photography is such an amazing vessel to help express the beauties of different areas around the world and being able to travel while doing it would be such an amazing and eye-opening experience. Being able to capture moments, while learning about cultures and people around the world, would be such an astounding experience.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to…
… launch a charity organization that is dedicated to making medical care more accessible to people around the world. I feel as if accessibility should never be a problem when thinking of health care. I would love to make health care available and accessible to the whole world and help those without access to it live longer and happier lives.
What is your passion and how are you committed to pursuing it?
Ever since I was in eighth grade, I’ve wanted to change the world. I’ve never known how I would do it, but I’ve always known that it was my goal, and recently I’ve discovered a way to work toward that goal every day. I try and impact at least one life in a positive manner every day. Watching that one impact move through different individuals and reverberate throughout the community is an amazing feeling and may not seem like it is changing the world, but I believe that it is, one step at a time.
After graduation, I plan to…
… attend medical school and become a cardiothoracic surgeon, while continuing to engage in my passion for traveling, photography and social justice.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
… my time as an orientation leader with New Student Orientation. Every single day is a new adventure and you meet new people who have different stories; they all impact you and help you grow in so many different ways. My time serving as an OL has been such an honor and a privilege and it has truly changed my life.