These Students are Headed to Medical School

Kevin Chen (left), Nikhil Kaushal, Keneil Shah and Kishan Shah (not pictured above) are headed to medical school.

NJIT offers students many pathways to success. And one way it does that is through an accelerated medical program, where top students spend three years at NJIT and four years in medical school.

Each year, the Albert Dorman Honors College accepts some of the brightest students in the nation for the accelerated medical program; it helps them save money and jump-start their medical careers. In this year’s graduating class, four students from the program will enter the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) in late summer or fall. And all are poised for success.

“Having had all four of these exceptional students in my courses, followed by mentorship from the NJIT  Pre-health committee, the committee members and I unanimously feel they’ll be outstanding physicians,” said Darshan Desai, director of Pre-health Programs.

What follows is a brief story of each of the four. 

******

Kevin Chen graduated from Wayne Hills High School with a 4.3 weighted GPA and nearly perfect scores on the SAT.

He won a full scholarship to the Honors College, where he entered the 7-year accelerated B.A./M.D. program with the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJMS).

His parents were born in China but he grew up in Wayne. He majored in biology at NJIT and graduated this May with a 3.99 GPA.

At NJIT, he was a member of the NJIT Student Senate. He belonged to the Rutgers Ehsaas Dance Team and was vice president of the Association of Indian Students (AIS). He was also part of the honors student team that established a mobile health program in the Dominican Republic. The team, funded by the International Foundation, visited the Dominican Republic last summer and deployed a pilot program in a small region of the country. They worked alongside the minister of health to educate residents about relevant health information.

When he was a freshman, he did research at the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers, Newark. He studied how certain cells affect brain function and the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. The research could aid in early detection of the disease. This summer, he’ll do research at the NJMS, studying genetics and cell proliferation in cancers. Following that, he’ll begin his studies at the medical school.

******

After he graduated from Bridgewater-Raritan High School in 2012, Keneil Shah entered the Honors College’s 7-year accelerated medical program and he'll begin medical school in August.

During his time at NJIT, he joined the AIS; he was on the executive board as a freshman and later also served as a vice president. During his third and final year at NJIT, he joined Ehsaas and traveled to Miami, South Carolina, and Washington, D.C., to compete in dances.

He also did research at the Cancer Center at NJMS. He was part of a research team that studied the relationship between a protein and a gene family that play a role in the formation of certain cancers. He graduated from the Honors College with his degree in biology and a near-perfect GPA, and he’s grateful for the opportunities NJIT gave him.

"Above all I have to give credit to the Honors College and the outstanding faculty for allowing me to finish my undergraduate coursework a year early and guiding me through my time here at NJIT,” said Shah. “Besides the obvious financial benefits that come with graduating a year early, I'm most excited about the opportunity to start my career and start treating patients even sooner."

******

Nikhil Kaushal was also a biology major on full scholarship in the accelerated medical program. He graduated from the Honors College this May with a near-perfect GPA.  

Kaushal was a member of the student team that placed first in the Microsoft Hackathon and won a $40,000 prize. He developed the Mobile Gateway, an Android app that disseminates vital health information to cellphones, even basic phones without Internet access. The team is currently in talks to commercialize the app. He also belonged to the team that established a mobile health program in the Dominican Republic.

During the summer after his first year, Kaushal participated in the NJMS Cancer Center summer research program. He did research on random mutations of a gene complex that is resistant to a DNA damaging agent. This summer he’ll work on another research project in the same program, where he’ll do statistical analyses of cancer data.

His parents were born in India but he grew up in Montgomery Township, N.J. His older sister, Naina Kaushal, also graduated from the Honors College and was part of its accelerated dental program. She graduated from Rutgers School of Dental Medicine in 2014.

“The Honors College is a vibrant and tight-knit community,” Kaushal said. “Working with academically strong honors scholars on a daily basis, both in and out of the classroom, has been an enriching experience that I know prepared me well for medical school.”

******

Kishan Shah was also a biology major in the accelerated medical program with NJMS, where he’ll begin his studies in the fall.

In his four years at NJIT, Shah was on the dean’s list every semester. He was on the executive boards of the service fraternity Delta Epsilon Psi and AIS. Since freshman year, he was a member of the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society.  

Through his involvement with Delta Epsilon Psi and AIS, he helped to establish a mentoring program in Newark for local children and raised money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He also helped to heighten awareness of South Asian culture on campus by organizing AIS events.

Outside of NJIT, he shadowed a general surgeon at the Mercer Surgical Group in Hamilton, N.J., as well as a doctor at Ashvini Health Services, also in Hamilton. He did research for six years for the pathology lab at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton.

He supported the Honors College by talking to and interviewing prospective students and speaking in panels during freshman seminars about the medical program.

“It has been encouraging to see the number of talented pre-med students entering each year and to see how the biology department at NJIT has grown,” said Shah. “The Honors College has enabled me to establish many important relationships that I hope to maintain. And since I’ll be only a few blocks away at the medical school, I hope to do whatever I can to help the Honors College grow even bigger and better.”

By Robert Florida (robert.florida@njit.edu)