Naman Shah

An Unexpected Loss and a Gentle Reminder

by Dennis Shaughnessy

Earlier this month we lost one of our beloved students, Naman Shah, to an untimely death at the age of 21.  His short life reminds me of a something I read long ago, that given a choice between a life of comfort and a life of meaning, the wise person will choose the latter.  We too often hear of unnecessary and premature deaths in the world, in fact we’ve all seen the statistic that several thousand children die needlessly each day from poverty and disease.  Every life matters, and yet when it’s someone you know, whose path crossed yours, the idea of a senseless death in the face of such promise is that much more powerful.  

Naman lived a short but meaningful life, combining humor and intelligence with compassion for others.  Walking through a poor village of displaced Haitian families as part of our microfinance field program in 2011, Naman told me that he would never forget these otherwise forgotten people.  He softly said that one day he would make a difference in the lives of people like this, born into poverty and without the opportunity he had been given in life.  Even in these distant sugar cane fields, Naman remained true to his Indian roots.  He really would be the change.

Naman planned a career in finance or entrepreneurship after completing his business studies, but he also planned to live a full life in which he would reach out and use his knowledge and skills to help others.  He supported organizations like Akshaya Patra, which provides sponsored lunch for poor school children in India, among many others.  Around the corner from his home, it was the Best  Buddies program at the YMCA, and the Joslin Diabetes Clinic.  A life of service, without promotion or fanfare.

When planning to be great in life, as so many gifted and determined students like Naman do each day, it’s important to remember the importance of being good.  Naman appreciated the difference, and pursued both with equal passion.  His friends and fellow students loved his goofy laugh and endearing smile, his positive outlook and unwavering optimism.  All of us at SEI are inspired by the short but good life of our young friend, Naman.  

Naman Shah’s life truly mattered, to all of us.  

SEI friends and colleagues of Naman are organizing a scholarship fund in his memory for deserving students who wish to participate in our social entrepreneurship programs. If you would like to contribute to the Naman Shah Memorial Scholarship, please contact Esther Chou at sei@neu.edu

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