Spotlight on a Rising Star – Gehana Shankar
It looks like we’ve got another entry for our growing list of positive role models for youth in Canada. Today our spotlight shines bright on one of the most delightful people we have come to know – Gehana Shankar. Gehana is a first year student of the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine (BINM) and on June 14, 2019 she became the most recent recipient of the Foundation’s Education Bursary Program. We’re honored to have the opportunity to support this rising star in the field of naturopathy, and we hope that you enjoy her profile below.
The Early Years – Seeds of Inspiration
Born and raised in India before moving to Canada, the seeds of natural health were planted early in Gehana’s childhood, as she would often escape the trappings of the bustling and overpopulated city to explore the rural countryside with her family. Gehana cites her father as being a major influence on her relentless passion for nature, sustainable living, and ultimately the field of naturopathy that she is involved in today,
“My father was a true admirer of nature’s glory and magnificence. He used to take me out to our garden to talk to our trees, play with tiny tadpoles and enjoy the cool rain on a warm sunny day. The smell of fresh rain falling on organic soil is a sense I will never forget. Every time I go out to the forest, the smell of the fresh soil takes me back to that precious time I had with my family. I now live in Vancouver, BC far away from my family but I will always carry those childhood memories and experiences with me.”
A Thirst for Education
From early adolescence, Gehana understood that in order to institute positive change and help others she would first need to develop her own knowledge and skills. She did just that, taking advantage of every opportunity that came her way. In 2011 she received an Advanced Diploma in Biomedical Engineering Technology, Biomedical Devices. From there, she then went to the University of British Columbia to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Integrated Sciences with a focus on Evolutionary Cell Biology and Extrinsic Factors that Impact Tumor Growth in 2018. Most students would stop there and head on to their respective careers, but not Gehana. She would transition from the UBC campus and on to BINM where she will receive her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine in the graduating Class of 2022. How could we not invest in someone who is so clearly invested in the future of humankind?
“As a naturopathic doctor, my goal will be to educate people about what I have learned about the body, mind and spirit. Teaching each other about what we know best is one of our core values as humans and this is how we will be able to survive as a community and as part of the planet. My goal is to empower individuals to strengthen their own health. I would love to use the core scientific knowledge about the body combined with the various modalities such as Traditional Asian Medicine, Botanical Medicine, Clinical Nutrition, Physical Medicine, healthy lifestyle practices to support the body’s own healing abilities and to help bring the patient’s body and mind to balance so that they can achieve their goals and dreams.”
Already Ready to Pass the Torch
What impressed us even more, is that Gehana is not just content to do more than her part in making the world a better place. This young phenom recognizes that they key to a sustainable future lies with our youth and she hopes to impart her knowledge and experience on them, and pass the proverbial torch:
“One way we can cultivate that sustainable attitude is by teaching kids about the impact we have on the environment just by doing simple things such as conserving rainwater and using it to grow fresh vegetable and fruits in our own gardens. Avoiding the use of plastics can have positive implications on our personal health and the environment. Inspiring young kids to do simple things like purchasing recyclable metal water bottles instead of plastic water bottles will have a positive ripple effect many years down the line.”
Gehana’s efforts in this capacity have already spanned beyond her words. In 2017 she volunteered to lead a group of UBC undergraduates to work with Grade 6 and 7 inner-city school students in an effort to encourage interest in natural science. It was at this moment Gehana became conscious of the fact that her role as a global citizen would forever change:
“I then realized that it is my passion to create sparks in little kids, sparks of loving to learn about the earth, sparks of engaging with plants and admiring their beauty and what they do for us humans, sparks of tasting delicious vegetables we grow and cook ourselves, sparks of learning the medicinal use of plants and the history of herbal medicine.”
“The curiosity and passion that little kids have allows us to mold them into beautiful protectors of mother earth.”
“The curiosity and passion that little kids have, allow us to mold them to mold them into beautiful protectors of mother earth.” – Gehana Shankar
Gehana’s revelation led to a serendipitous turn of events, as she discovered the Plant a Seed & See What Grows Education Bursary Program – an exquisite match to marry her educational goals with her fervor for fostering the potential of children across Canada. Our Foundation feels equally lucky to come across someone as special as Gehana Shankar, and we could not be more honored to help support her educational aspirations. But what we look forward to most, is to find out what will come next for this superstar and the youth that she will have inspired along the way.
If this story gives you hope for the future of our youth and their role in creating a truly sustainable society, please sign up to be a Friend of the Foundation here ou en Française ici. Please don’t forget to donate generously to the Plant a Seed & See What Grows Foundation, so that we can help support more deserving students such as Gehana.