Commitment Pays: Gold Medal in Congressional Awards


Photo courtesy of Karan Shah

Karan Shah receives awards for his dedication and persistence

After striving for four years towards one goal, junior Karan Shah achieved a Gold Medal in the Congressional Award, which recognizes “initiative, service and achievement in young people,” according to

Established by the United States Congress in 1979, the Congressional Award recognizes goals in four different program areas: voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness and expedition/exploration.

“I thought it would be a great experience,” Karan Shah said. “My cousin actually found his career through the Congressional Award.”

Shah was able to complete the requirements for all four program areas and achieve a Gold Medal, allowing him the opportunity to participate in the Gold Medal Ceremony at Capitol Hill, Washington D.C on June 16.

Shah has committed 400 hours with several organizations for the voluntary public service program, including Families Forward, the school tutoring program; the City of Irvine; and the Great Park Farm and Food Lab. Along with reaching the rank of Life Scout, Shah earned a black belt in Taekwondo and visited India to explore cultural aspects by cooperating with the iASYS software company. There, he met with a 93-year-old historian who showed him letters from the British government that occupied India 250 years ago.

“I came [to America] when I was eight years old, so it was nice to go back and explore the culture that I came from,” Karan Shah said.

Along with great opportunities to learn about his cultural background, there were also many hardships he had to overcome.

“It did conflict with my schoolwork. I had to miss school for programs that I had to be a part of,” Karan Shah said. “On Fridays, I had to go on trips for Boy Scouts because I was a patrol leader at that time.”

Shah mentioned a significant message he learned through this experience.

“Commitment pays. I worked on this for over three years, constantly logging hours and getting validation for all of them. It was about 1,000 hours put together. So it was a lot of work, but I found that it pays off,” Karan Shah said.

His parents said they are proud of Shah for his perseverance and his ability to manage time while balancing schoolwork.

“I always tell him that you need to learn the process of making a goal and pursuing it and then completing it. So, I think it’s more of the process than the result, which helps [people] for the rest of their lives,” Manisha Shah said.