Harshil Shah knew very early on he was interested in the medical field — as early as second grade, to be exact.
By the time he was in fourth and fifth grade, his love for the field grew and he read almost every biology book that was available in his school's library. Before summer break, he asked the librarian if they would be receiving any new books. "No, but I hope you have a great summer, Dr. Shah," he recalled the librarian saying.
"That was really cool," he said, remembering how great it felt to be called doctor.
As quickly as his love for science and medicine grew, so, too, did his passion for helping others. Today, Shah, a second-year student at the University of Calgary in Canada, has created several student organizations with the aim of bettering his peers. It all started during his time at Stockdale High School.
During his four years at Stockdale, he was involved in HOSA – Future Health Professionals, an international career and technical student organization. Students from there represented the school both at the state level and international level, which Shah earned the chance to do himself.
After he graduated and accepted his offer to the University of Calgary, he started digging and realized his school did not have a HOSA chapter.
"Even before I stepped foot in Canada, I started recruiting members," Shah explained.
Within a month of school starting, the club was up and running. A number of events have taken place since the club's inception, including a suturing lab and medical professionals’ panel.
With one student organization under his belt, what was the next logical move? Starting a few more clubs aimed at building students' physical health and finding their passions.
Before he headed to Canada after graduating from Stockdale High School, Shah developed an interest in marketing. Medicine was still his passion, but he realized the benefits of learning more about other fields, which could ultimately help him in his future career.
Once at college, he realized that most students are fixated on their majors and don't take the time to take classes in other fields.
"They rarely go outside of their field, even though most people won’t work in what they study," he said. "Even those that want to study other things, it’s hard to juggle."
Knowing that it can be a risk to take a class blindly, he started Crash Course, which brings in experts from different fields to give a "crash course" in their career in less than an hour. This exposes students to various fields, and with a little background knowledge, it gives them a boost to take an elective or introductory class in a different field.
With his university ranking highly in North America and the world for its kinesiology department, he created HealthyU, which pairs students with kinesiology majors who make fitness and diet plans for them. Students get unique exercises, warm ups and cool downs that target their fitness goals. In turn, this club allows kinesiology majors to get hands-on experience in their field before graduating.
On top of all of this, he still has time to spare to give back even more to his peers and students everywhere. He started an Instagram account providing tips and advise on studying, extracurriculars and more. It gained 100 followers within one day, he said.
Shah also wrote an eBook, "ACE SCHOOLING: Achieve Twice As Much in Half the Time," that was published in January on Amazon. During the summertime, it hit the top 10 list in its category on Amazon. He also provides free consultation calls for high schoolers and looks over their college applications.
"In high school, I wasn’t participating too much in volunteering. I didn’t find an opportunity that resonated with me," he said. Instead, he realized his senior year "I can make my own opportunities."
Ultimately, the way he wants to help the most people is by making a big splash in the medical field. Although he doesn't know what that will entail yet, he said he wants to "bring some sort of innovation or change," which will likely come in "reorganizing the health care structure or coming up with new technology or somehow fixing a gap in communication."