Premed prodigy studies what’s close to heart


Kerry Wilson, Staff Writer

She might be a whiz kid.

Of course, that depends on society’s definition of the term. One fact stands, however. She is a sophomore in college – and also a 17-year-old.

Kaitlyn Shahankary is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in biology at Texas A&M University-Commerce as a premed student. In only her second year of college, she is paving her way toward her goal of becoming a doctor.

“I graduated high school a year early,” said Shahankary. “My parents didn’t want me to be out of state for college until I was 18. I did a program called BioPride here at the university before I started. I met a lot of amazing people in the science department, which is what my major is, biology.”

Contrary to her current positive attitude, Shahankary originally did not want to attend A&M-Commerce. After graduating from Campbell High School one year early, Shahankary wanted to travel – even as far as the East Coast.

“I didn’t want to come here,” said Shahankary. “I wanted to be very far away from home for college. Honestly, I was looking at schools in Washington and New York.”

After participating in the BioPride Boot Camp, however, Shahankary said she grew to love A&M-Commerce.

“It’s just I fell in love with the people here and just this campus,” said Shahankary. “And I like saving money, because I live at home, so I’m saving a couple thousand dollars.”

Saving money is making it easier for Shahankary to travel down the road of becoming a doctor, a dream she has had since she was in the sixth grade.

“I’ve always known since like sixth grade that I wanted to go into the medical field because I’ve always felt unusually comfortable in hospitals,” said Shahankary. “I’ve really never freaked out in major situations that the average person would freak out in.”

Shahankary credits her ease with being in hospitals and emergency situations to the way she handles pressure.

“I handle stress differently than most people,” said Shahankary. “Or, maybe not stress would be the word to use. It’s like if an emergency happens, it doesn’t hit me until after it’s over and dealt with. Like, there’s no panic. I don’t get this panicked feeling at all.”

Ultimately, Shahankary’s interests lie in cardiology and anesthesiology. Her passion for the medical field came to light because of a personal story.

“My dad almost died of a heart attack and my grandfather died of a heart attack,” said Shahankary. “My uncle has a heart problem. There’s just, like, a long line of heart problems in my family, so that’s the driving force behind it I suppose.

Shahankary’s reasoning for wanting to go into the medical field is no surprise to her parents. In fact, they have backed her 100%. Their main priority is the happiness of their daughter.

“They told me that they just really want me to be happy and successful,” said Shahankary. “Ultimately they want me to be happy with what I do, because if I’m happy with what I do, then I’m going to make money either way.”