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The Michael B. Keegan Fellowship enhances the development of future leaders through world travel and experiential learning. The program is designed to allow a graduating senior the opportunity to pursue an idea or an issue, about which the student is impassioned, and to do so in the context of daily life in a global scenario.

Vivek Shah Named 2017-2018 Traveling Fellow

Vivek Shah


Vivek Shah is humbled to be one of the recipients of the Michael B. Keegan Traveling Fellowship.

Vivek graduated from Vanderbilt with a double major in Biomedical and Chemical Engineering and minors in math and chemistry. Throughout his time at Vanderbilt, Vivek also worked in engineering labs focused on nanoparticle formulation for drug delivery and breast cancer treatment using ultrasound. In addition, Vivek served as Head Resident Adviser in Warren and Moore College Halls, Co-Chair of the Vanderbilt University Speakers Committee, and as a Vanderbilt University Tour Guide. However, his fondest Vanderbilt memories were playing Ultimate Frisbee as a part of the Men’s Club team.

Vivek’s project, titled Reengineering Access: Translational Challenges and Cultural Considerations of Western Medical Technology, stems from his divergent experiences growing up as well as his academic experiences. As an Indian-American, Vivek has been deeply aware that different cultures interface with Western medicine and medical technology in different ways. While growing up, colds in Vivek’s family were treated not with Tylenol, but rather with mixtures of turmeric, honey, and ginger. Such alternatives to Western medicine instilled faith in alternative medicine, a faith very much alive despite his breadth of experiences as a biomedical engineering student.

In this spirit, Vivek will visit fourteen countries across five continents to gain perspective on two critical challenges that hinder development of engineering solutions to global health problems. He will focus on the technical challenges and limitations that affect how medical technology is implemented, particularly in low resource settings, as well as the influences of culture on how people interface with medical technology. Vivek will work in conjunction with his advisor, Dr. Patricia Russ, professor of biomedical engineering throughout his project.

Upon returning, Vivek plans to work in industry, but also may pursue a graduate degree. Regardless of where he finds himself, he plans to draw from his experiences during the Keegan Fellowship to maintain a global problem-solving orientation as well as ensure that engineering challenges are framed with an acute awareness of the settings and people that will interact most intimately with design solutions.

Vivek is humbled by the support and assistance of Michael Keegan, the Keegan Fellowship alumni, Dr. Jim Lovensheimer, his family, and all those that have helped made this journey possible.

Images, videos, reflections, insights, and streams of consciousness can be found on Vivek’s blog,


Nigel Walker Named 2017-2018 Traveling Fellow

Nigel Walker

Nigel Walker is from Atlanta, GA and graduated from Vanderbilt University’s School of Engineering in May 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Science and minors in Engineering Management and Managerial Studies with a focus in Financial Economics.  During his time at Vanderbilt, he played varsity football, became founding president of his fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha, and was elected president of the school of engineering.  When looking at career options, he saw the Michael B. Keegan Traveling Fellowship as an opportunity to get out of his comfort zone and grow by traveling the world to study a subject that has personally influenced him: fatherhood.

Nigel’s project is entitled Spending Time With Your Father: Global Perspectives on Fatherhood.  He is studying fatherhood because he grew up without his father and has seen the influence this parent can have on families and an individual’s identity.  Nigel’s goal is to capture the individual nuances of fatherhood in each place he visits, detail an overall definition of what fatherhood is, and learn how to apply the definition as a future male leader in different communities.  He will travel to all 7 continents and over 20 countries interviewing people about the role their father played for them growing up in their country.  Nigel has connected with families all over thanks to past fellows, such as Michael Ainslie, and his friends and family.  Along the way, Nigel will post what is found on this website:

Nigel has accepted a teaching position at Teach For America for after his fellowship, where he will return home to Atlanta, GA to teach middle school math for 2 years.  In teaching and with his interests in going into business in the future, he will apply lessons learned about male leadership from the people he met during his travels.  Long-term, Nigel wants to apply these lessons in his role to his future family, where he will be the father.

Nigel's blog: