May 18, 1999
Volume 51, No. 31
GBS grad conquers more than school
The bachelor's degree Alok Deshpande just earned from Goizueta Business School is quite an accomplishment, as is his recent induction into Beta Gamma Sigma, which honors the top 10 percent of business graduates. But these milestones are less impressive than what Deshpande did en route to reaching them.
During his junior year, Deshpande was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and spent much of the next 12 months undergoing chemotherapy, radiation treatments and surgery to treat the cancer. The experience was debilitating at times, but upon remission a year-and-a-half ago, Deshpande emerged a different kind of student.
"Before I was just getting by, going through college, doing fairly well just studying the night before a test," he recalled. "After my illness, I started going to college for knowledge as opposed to grades. I wanted to seek my potential and see how good I could be."
Pretty good, as it turned out. Now Deshpande wants to contribute to the recovery of others as he begins work as a health care consultant in July. But first he'll doing some traveling overseas and also volunteer as a counselor at Camp Sunshine, an Atlanta pediatric cancer camp, because Deshpande remembers it was not his own situation but that of others which gave him the strength to overcome the cancer.
"I attended a couple of conferences--young adults with cancer--in Montana, and I met people with a wide range of conditions: terminal brain cancer, leukemia, lymphomas," Deshpande said. "Looking at these people and their strength inspired me to realize, 'Wow, there's a lot this world has to offer, and we only have a limited time.' I had to face my own mortality. A lot of people at 20 or 21 years old don't really do that."