Ankur Shahi has long dreamed of becoming a surgeon.
Now, not only is that dream about to come true, it’s going to happen in a hurry. The 17-year-old Churchill Collegiate and Vocational Institute student was one of just 10 applicants accepted into the Queen’s University Accelerated Route to Medical School program.
More than 3,000 students applied for the prestigious fast-track program, which will see Shahi spend two years working on his undergraduate degree, followed by four years of medical school.
It’s a pretty special feeling, the budding Doogie Howser said.
“Definitely, it’s an honour to be accepted,” Shahi said.
Since elementary school, the youngster has been looking for ways to challenge himself in the classroom. This just takes it to another level.
“I feel that I perform the best when I’m under pressure. I came to that realization through the International Baccalaureate program, the fact that I was challenged every day, whether it be academically or just the fact I have to be involved in the community,” he said Wednesday, taking a rare classroom break to speak with local media.
“It’s really something that I’ve integrated into my lifestyle now. So I really hope that (the program) will bring similar challenges, hopefully ones I’ll be able to cope with.”
Becoming a doctor isn’t easy under any circumstance. But it hasn’t dissuaded the teenager in the least.
Shahi, who has already volunteered more than 1,800 hours since his high-school career began, said growing up in Northwestern Ontario he’s noticed many of the smaller surrounding communities make do with fewer and fewer health services.
He’s hoping he can help turn things around.
“Volunteering at places like the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, I’ve seen this first-hand,” said Shahi, a past winner of the Best in Fair award at the Northwestern Ontario Regional Science Fair and whose article on a novel solution to oil-spill recovery was published in the Canadian Young Scientists’ Journal.
“People are traveling kilometres upon kilometres just to get to something as simple as a family physician. So I really recognize that need.”
When all is said and done, Shani, who spent the 2010 summer as an MRI coil design student researcher at Thunder Bay Regional, said he hopes to specialize in orthopedic surgery.
“And maybe come back to small community in Northern Ontario and maybe serve here, hopefully,” he said.
Shahi is the ideal candidate, said Clarke Loney, the co-ordinator of the IB program at Churchill.
Most of the 3,000 candidates had the marks and the science background that Shahi demonstrated. It’s the little things that set him apart, his teacher said.
“He has a passion for science and for knowledge. With everything that’s he’s done in the community, both on a local, provincial and national level, he’s a global citizen. I think because of that he’s going to bring something to the program that the program might not have even expected,” Loney said.
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