Shayom Debopadhaya, a graduating senior at Salem High School has won an award of $500 from a local informal group named ‘The Big Lick Breakfast Club.’
Shayom is an 18 year-old-high achiever who earned a GPA higher than 4.0. How does a student achieve that? The answer is that Shayom has done exceedingly well and has taken the highest level of IB, AP and college courses and earned straight ‘A’s.
In addition to Salem High School Shayom also attends the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School for Science and Technology.
For the last 3 years Shayom has been mentored by the Valdez lab at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute (formerly known as VTCRI) in Roanoke, VA. He spends a significant amount of time conducting neuroscience/neurobiology research and has received multiple awards for his work.
Beyond his high school academic achievements, Shayom is on a steering committee with ‘Ei Prajanma’ a multi-national non-profit that works to help disadvantaged youth. The goal of the organization is to promote wellness in both mind and body for youth around the world.
In addition to formal studies, Shayom is a swim athlete at Salem HS. He has been a varsity swimmer all 4 years of high school and was captain of the team in his senior year. He holds the team records in 100 fly, 200 IM and relays. He has represented Salem High as a top finisher in State Championships all 4 years. He trains at Virginia Gators Swim Club and had final appearances in various high level national swim meets.
Shayom enjoys learning many languages and is fluent in English, Spanish and Bengali.
Although he has achieved high academic acclaim, his mother thinks he is not a genius but his achievements are the result of hard work. Not only is Shayom a hard worker but he has a thirst for knowledge and interests that go beyond the goals and ambitions of a typical 18-year-old youth.
Now, let’s answer the question in the title of this column. His mother, explained that the name Shayom Debopadhaya means ‘Lord of the Evening’ Here is a twist in names; the surname of Debopadhaya is a combination of his Mother’s and Father’s names. Here’s the explanation; Deb means ‘God’ or ‘Lord’ while ‘upadhaya’ means ‘title’ in Bengali. Debopadhaya is a combination of Deb and upadhaya which means one who bears the title of God.
An obvious interest for Shayom over the past months has been a search for a program in a university that meets his career interests and incorporates research and medicine. He has received multiple acceptances from ivy leagues, other elite schools and top-notch state universities.
He has accepted the offer to join an accelerated seven–year BS-MD physician-scientist program offered jointly by RPI and Albany Medical College. This is one of the highly competitive, programs where a handful of high-school students from around the country have a guaranteed acceptance to a United States medical school.
He will spend three years of (accelerated) study toward a B.S. degree at RPI and move on to Albany Medical College during his fourth year where he will study medicine achieving an M.D. degree after four years. He is excited to be part of RPI’s varsity swim team during his undergraduate years and looking forward to represent his team at NCAA meets.
Suffering a sprained ankle from lifting weights at age 13, he became interested in orthopedic surgery and plans to serve an orthopedic residency after earning his M.D. degree. He hopes to return to Salem, VA to practice his orthopedic skills.
Here’s another little-known name – The Big Lick Breakfast Club – (formerly Kiwanis). We are a group of (fewer than 30) men who are retired business leaders, attorneys, accountants and government officials. We have a chaplain who leads a standing invocation at our meetings; we repeat the ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ and we sing one discordant chorus of “America.” We exchange jokes without reference to race, ethnicity or gender and we prohibit the use of profanity or filth. We meet every Tuesday morning at 9 AM at The Roanoker Restaurant on Colonial Avenue and we are proud of Shayom Debopadhaya.