We think automatically of names such as Leonardo da Vinci when we hear the term “Renaissance Man.” That, of course, is natural since da Vinci was the reason the reference was coined in the first place.
There are times when the Renaissance-type personality is referred to as a polymath. They mean the same thing, although Renaissance Man sounds far more romantic than polymath, which conjures images of a many-legged, squishy creature. One other thing, a Renaissance Man/polymath is not a genius, and vice-versa.
Basically, both characterizations indicate an individual who is equally strong in the left and right spheres of the brain. He/she could be a writer, a great dancer, a renowned poet, and, in his/her spare time, a scientist, a mathematician, and a complete computer nerd.
Krish Shah, the second son of Ritesh and Hiral Shah who immigrated to the United States in 1999, lives in Castle Hills and is a senior at Hebron High School. He is also president of the Hawk Debate Club. He’s recognized for his skills in computer science and, even at such a young age, is an accomplished portrait artist. He’s also a published author, with The Extemper’s Bible released in September 2022 and available on Amazon. One other interesting thing: a recurring phrase in Krish’s conversations revolves around giving back to his community, to his family, and to humankind in general.
It’s a bit difficult to explain but Krish speaks of working in computer sciences, while also establishing an artists’ studio for young people in his community. It comes across as no big deal as if it’s a common occurrence for people to have two or three or four major, non-compatible life pursuits going on simultaneously.
The Extemper’s Bible came about through Krish’s proclivity for giving back.
“I’ve had leadership positions for the past two years with the debate club,” Krish explained. “I was also co-chair for a special event for extemporaneous speakers. It’s a competitive event for high school and college students in which they speak about current events or politics.
“I wanted to write the book as a way of mentoring the younger students in debate, as a quick reference for sharpening their skills.
“I honestly didn’t know the event even existed, but I realized immediately I could have been much more effective on the national debate stage if I’d experienced it.”
Being a successful extemporaneous speaker means having a mental storage compartment of sources, along with an excellent vocabulary. The goal is to master current events through an informative or persuasive extemp discussion of them. People who do well as ex-temps are usually solid essay writers which, of course, Krish is.
He’s not finished with his books. He’s planning follow-ups, as well as devoting time to marketing them with a special focus on teachers since many of the principles are not limited to debate only.
“I want to provide young people coming after me with the tools to surpass my debate skills,” he said. “I feel the same way about my art. I intend to eventually pursue it on a professional level, rather than just a hobby. Part of that will include establishing an artists’ studio to mentor others.
“My interest in art came about eight years ago and was inspired by my teacher Steve Ko. I’ve had people within the Castle Hills community commission me. My biggest challenge has come through the requests for children’s portraits. Capturing that special innocence was very difficult, but I’m getting better with each one.”
Krish Shah is an outstanding young man. Maybe he’s a modern Renaissance figure. Maybe he’s a polymath. Maybe he’s not. Maybe he’s simply an intelligent teenager who has no concept of limitations. Maybe he has a longer list of talents than the rest of us, and maybe he’s open to using all of them. And maybe, by using all of them, his chances of giving back to others increase exponentially.
Maybe more than a polymath or more than a Renaissance kid….maybe Krish Shah is simply an example of positive change we should all follow.