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Veeraj Shah

Severna Park High School, Severna Park, MD
Student, University of Maryland, Public Health and Neurobiology
Research Intern, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and National Cancer Institute

How did you initially learn about TSA; what motivated you to join?
I joined TSA my sophomore year of high school, encouraged by my teacher, Mr. Bernstein, who was the TSA chapter advisor. I competed at the Maryland TSA State Conference and placed at the National TSA Conference in Debate and Extemporaneous Speech. During my time in TSA, in which I competed in three national conferences, I also participated in Tech Bowl, Technology Problem Solving, and Prepared Presentation.

All this, combined with my experience in VEX Robotics, student government, and advocacy, taught me some of the most important skills I have ever learned such as public speaking and debate. I was also appointed parliamentarian for my TSA chapter, and by the end of my junior year, I was elected vice president of Maryland TSA. Those roles taught me invaluable lessons in leadership, time management, and team work.

What attributes did you gain from being a TSA member?

Most definitely, I gained the ability to think on my feet and quickly formulate positions, especially because I hope to enter the realm of health policy someday. I also learned how to network with professionals and work in collaborative team settings. Ultimately, I hope to combine my knowledge in policy with clinical practice to improve the healthcare delivery system in the United States. I have spent my summers in paid research internships at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine and at the National Cancer Institute, working on projects in clinical informatics—using health information and data to improve patient safety. Relatively simple health technology innovations can have such a profound impact on medical practice and can save lives.

How have you stayed connected to TSA as an alum?

I have stayed in touch with Mr. Bernstein, who has served as a great mentor to me, and I am encouraged that Maryland TSA is growing and has such potential. I volunteer at Maryland TSA State Conferences, and I am very excited that the 2019 National TSA Conference is coming to my home state this year. I am also proud to say my brother is the current president of Maryland TSA and is working hard to support the growth and development of our state delegation.

What advice do you have for current TSA student members?

TSA offers you the opportunity to learn skillsets that can be applied to the real world. Don’t pass that up! Join TSA as early as possible and use the competitive events as opportunities to not only apply skillsets you already have—but to develop new ones. You will be amazed how applicable the skillsets you learn in TSA are in college and in the professional world.