NORCROSS - Greater Atlanta Christian School graduate Deep Shah has experienced a lot of success.
The valedictorian of GAC's class of 2004, Shah co-founded a student-run think tank at the University of Georgia, received the national Harry S. Truman Scholarship in 2007 and was named a Rhodes Scholar in 2008. He is completing his studies at Oxford University in England and will attend Harvard Medical School this fall.
But Shah is no stranger to failure, he told students at Greater Atlanta Christian on Tuesday.
"Everyone who's successful has (experienced) a lot of mistakes and a lot of setbacks," he said.
Shah talked about some of his setbacks - not getting accepted into a gifted program in fourth grade, getting deferred from Harvard University after applying for early admission, getting fired from his job in a lab.
"Any successful person is the beneficiary of a community and has had more failures than they care to discuss," Shah told students at the private Christian school.
He encouraged the students to become selfless members of the communities that support them. He quoted "Outliers" author Malcolm Gladwell: "No one - not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires and not even geniuses - ever makes it alone."
Shah said Greater Atlanta Christian School was a community that helped him become successful.
"It's unusual to be in an environment where there are positive influences all around you," he said. "I've never had that experience since, and I never will."
During Shah's visit, members of his alma mater showed their continued support for him.
"Your success is our success," said junior high assistant principal Many Richey, who taught Shah in eighth grade. "Those successes for you are successes for us."
At Oxford University, Shah is studying health policy and health administration.
"People who are Rhodes Scholars are typically those who have a passion or special interest," he said.
Shah said health policy is an intersection of his interests: medicine, government and economics.
Shah graduated from the University of Georgia in May with a 3.99 grade-point average (he made an A-minus in Spanish). His parents are Gwinnett Clinic founders Drs. J.J. and Meena Shah, and his two older sisters also graduated from Greater Atlanta Christian at the top of the class.