Before the end of the school year, science-minded students from the Ball Preparatory Academy program at Ball High had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Deepak Srivastiva, a world-renowned scientist known for his cutting edge work in the field of stem cell and cardiovascular research. He shared something in common with them: he attended Ball High too, serving as the Class of 1983 Salutatorian.
In his lecture, he encouraged students to follow their own path when it comes to their education and occupational pursuits, echoing his long and winding career. He also recognized that he wouldn’t be who he is without a great education, one he received at Galveston Independent School District schools, and specifically, Ball High.
“My experience in Galveston’s education system shaped who I am,” Dr. Srivastava said following the lecture. “I like the fact that I’m comfortable with all sorts of people, from all sorts of economic backgrounds. That happened because of my time here.”
Dr. Srivastiva was a part of the tennis and debate teams at Ball. Following graduation, he attended Rice University for undergraduate studies, went to medical school at University of Texas Medical Branch, followed by a pediatrics residency at University of California-San Francisco. A period of pediatric cardiology studies at Harvard Medical School then led him back to Texas as a resident at the University of Texas-Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
He is currently the Director of the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease and the Rodenberry Stem-Cell Center at Gladstone in San Francisco. In is laboratory, his team of crack scientists and researchers figured out many of the causes of heart disease in children. They leveraged how nature normally builds a heart in an embryo to regenerate new heart muscle in adults who have suffered a heart attack.
Dr. Srivastava, who visits Galveston at least twice a year, was in town to receive the Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumnus Award, given to a former University of Texas Medical Branch student who set themselves apart in the medical profession through their accomplishments in their area of expertise. His father, Sativa Srivastava, has been working at UTMB as a biochemistry and molecular biology scientist since 1974.
He remembered two Ball High teachers who made a huge impact on his life. The first was Jean Edwards, who taught math.
“She is still one of the best teachers I’ve ever had of all the places I’ve gone to for my education,” he said.
The other was his biology teacher, Barbara Cain, who he says “probably was one of the first to inspire me to pursue a career in biology.”
“Ball High served as the foundation for everything I’ve done subsequently,” he said. “Each step of the way, I feel that I was better prepared than most of my peers having received the education I did at Ball. I feel I received a better education than most.”
That’s a pretty big statement coming from someone who has worked with Nobel Prize winners and graduates of the best universities in the country.
Johnston Farrow is the communications specialist for Galveston ISD.