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Humans of Harker: Vedant Shah drives to connect past and present

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"In sophomore year, I lost my best friend and neighbor in a car accident," Vedant Shah (12) said. "I was in my room for an hour, staring at a wall, and it came to me that my life was way too short to be holding grudges and being a mean person — because the only constant we have in our life is that nothing is constant. Even though we all have aspirations and we're all trying to get to our respective places, it's important to recognize when to stop and take in the moment and the people around you."

Melissa Kwan

Melissa Kwan

"In sophomore year, I lost my best friend and neighbor in a car accident," Vedant Shah (12) said. "I was in my room for an hour, staring at a wall, and it came to me that my life was way too short to be holding grudges and being a mean person — because the only constant we have in our life is that nothing is constant. Even though we all have aspirations and we're all trying to get to our respective places, it's important to recognize when to stop and take in the moment and the people around you."

by Prameela Kottapalli, Winged Post Features Editor

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Vedant Shah (12) has always loved cars. He and his best friend used to spend hours upon hours raving about the latest models, engaging in turbulent discussions about BMW M3’s and Lamborghinis. Together, they watched breakneck British motor show “Top Gear” on the daily, and then proceeded to channel their inner Jeremy Clarkson by challenging each other to racing games on the Playstation III. Their passion for the “Need for Speed” and “Blur” franchises, though, always paled in comparison to their ultimate dream: to one day open up their own joint automobile company.

Halfway through his sophomore year, Vedant lost that friend to a car accident.

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Vedant said. “Afterwards, I was in my room for an hour — just staring at a wall.”

Up until that point, he’d been like any other kid, an underclassman self-assured in his popularity and soccer skills. While he cared deeply about his family and friends, he’d always felt most comfortable looking out for himself.

But in that hour of solitude, Vedant had a revelation.

“It came to me that life was way too short to be holding onto these grudges and being a mean person–because the only constant we have in our lives is that nothing is going to be constant,” Vedant said. “I realized that I wanted to live life for both of us: me and my neighbor. I wanted to be the person that he would be proud of.”

Since then, Vedant has never stopped striving towards this goal. Most people know him today as the type of person who goes out of his way to help a loved one, who surrounds himself with his friends and who always makes time for family.

“When I told myself that I was going to be a person he could be proud of, it made me think twice of everything I was doing,” he said. “It was motivating, and it still continues to motivate me. I’ve been more open and respectful; I’ve been looking out for the general interest of others and not only myself.”

Vedant’s experiences in high-school sent him on a transformative journey different from many of his peers. Yet despite his profound change in mindset, he hasn’t lost his sense of self. He’s still a soccer player, achieving a coveted WBAL first-team selection for his senior season on varsity.

“Vedant’s extremely street smart,” his friend Rahul Mehta (12) said. “He’s super quick on his feet, and he can adapt to any situation that you put him in. That’s a great quality to have. That’s kind of like intuitive, right, like you’re born with it. He just has a knack for that.”

And he still loves cars. Aspiring to be an innovator in the automobile industry of the future, Vedant hopes to carry on his late friend’s legacy.

“I want to have the type of mindset to make him proud, to do the best I can at whatever I’m interested in,” Vedant said. “And then, at some point in life, I’m not sure when and I’m not sure how — I want to do something in relation to cars for the both of us. Whether it’s starting my own company or working on some software, I want to do something that turns the passion we both share into a reality.”

Vedant has goals in life, a path he’s set his mind on. But he also believes in the necessity of taking a step back once in a while and basking in the beauty of the present.

“The only constant we have is that nothing is constant, nothing is permanent,” Vedant said. “So even though we all have things we want to do in life, it’s important to recognize to appreciate the moment, appreciate the people around you, and be thankful for where you are.”

A soon-to-be-graduating senior who values his friends, teammates and family, Vedant is thankful for where he is. And no matter where he goes, no matter what he does, he’ll always have his best friend beside him.

“His last moment was in a car,” Vedant said. “Driving is therapeutic to me because I feel connected to him. Whenever I’m alone and I’m in a car, it gives me this feeling that he’s with me. I feel connected to him. He’s sitting in the passenger seat, and we’re driving towards our goal — our destination — together.”

Additional reporting by Humans of Harker managing editor Melissa Kwan.

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Humans of Harker: Vedant Shah drives to connect past and present