East African immigrant on educational journey
- in Clemson University Features
From a childhood in Tanzania, East Africa, Rupal Shah and her family immigrated to the United States in 1999 and she began her educational journey.
Shah, one of Southern Wesleyan University’s many success stories, was recognized with a Young Leader Award, presented during the university’s Alumni Association’s Annual Awards Luncheon on April 17.
“I must admit that my roots as a student in science were shaped at Southern Wesleyan University during my years as an undergraduate student,” Shah said.
Shah, who now lives in Brighton, Mass., was among seven distinguished alumni recognized awards ceremony at Southern Wesleyan University in Central. Alumni were recognized for their outstanding efforts in ministry, science and business.
Receiving Alumnus of the Year Award was Bradford Fipps, a 1982 religion graduate from Liberty, S.C.
Also receiving a Young Leader Award was Gregory Edmonds, a 1997 religion graduate from Chesnee, S.C. Receiving the Professional Excellence Award in the School of Education was Karen Young Watts, a 1974 graduate with a degree in church music from Albertville, Ala.
Receiving Professional Excellence Awards in the School of Business were Charles Tegen, a 1974 accounting graduate from Central, S.C.; and John Benson of Pendleton, S.C., who received his master of science in management degree in 2004.
Receiving the Professional Excellence Award in the College of Arts and Science was James Michael Hilson, a 1990 religion graduate from La Plata, Md.
Shah, a 2004 biology and chemistry graduate, works at Harvard University’s School of Public Health in the Department of Immunology and Infectious diseases. Shah was the first graduate in Southern Wesleyan’s Honors Program and went on to earn a master’s degree in microbiology at Clemson, building on the foundation she developed as an undergraduate.
She is now engaged in tuberculosis research aimed at providing a better understanding of drug resistance in TB and hopefully leading towards minimizing the global prevalence of multiple-drug-resistant TB.
“At Southern Wesleyan University, I learned from my mentors who always guided, encouraged and influenced me,” Shah said, adding that she keeps in touch with her advisors from Southern Wesleyan and seeks their advice and guidance when making major decisions. “In my opinion, at Southern Wesleyan University, they build self-confidence in individuals to believe that we can do anything that we put our hearts and minds into.”
From her beginnings in a small Tanzanian town at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro in East Africa, Shah is pursuing the American dream, founded on excellent education.