Srini Shah: Research Project TX Sprouts

What extracurricular activities have you been involved with during your time in school? How has it made an impact on your life and in the community?

Beginning my sophomore year of undergrad, I joined a research project that focused on the health inequalities in children living in inner city Austin, Texas. The research project, TX Sprouts, is an intervention program targeting 16 elementary schools in the Austin area where most of the students come from low income areas and a majority of them qualify for government assistance. The study measures childhood obesity markers, dietary intake, dietary related behaviors, physical activity levels, and school performance. I first joined the lab as a class assistant, and I traveled to the intervention schools to help educate children on the importance of nutrition and the fundamentals of a healthy diet. I helped to create lesson plans and taught students how to make informed decisions about their food choices and involve their family members in this healthy lifestyle routine. This process helped prepare the groundwork in creating a circle of educated food decisions within families which resulted in improved nutritional literacy. In addition, I shared recipes for simple yet healthy snacks at home. This interaction helped students familiarize themselves with being in a kitchen and have a fun and rewarding experience. This experience has shown me the importance of community medicine and how health initiatives can help change the perspective of a community. 

My experience in being a class assistant for TX Sprouts inspired my undergraduate thesis, and thus I partnered with TX Sprouts to research how demographic characteristics affected the independent risk factors that lead to the development of metabolic syndrome (MetS). My research had a particular focus on how difficult it is to diagnose MetS in children and how IDF guidelines could be changed to include socioeconomic status as a marker in MetS diagnosis.

…grow into a better leader and team player, which I know will be pertinent for my future career in podiatric medicine.

By being part of TX Sprouts as a class assistant and through my partnership for my thesis, I have realized the importance of medical literacy and health education in lower income communities. Throughout my time in TX Sprouts, I also got to see how socioeconomic status can influence the development of diabetes. As a future podiatrist, I can take what I have learned to help my future patients who may come into my office presenting with diabetes-related complications. Furthermore, my experience with TX Sprouts has made me grow into a better leader and team player, which I know will be pertinent for my future career in podiatric medicine.

Srini Shah

New York College of Podiatric Medicine, Class of 2024