FOX 2 - Three individuals received a special honor for going above and beyond when it comes to connecting communities, and promoting progress and understanding in Metro Detroit.
The Shining Light Awards were created by the Detroit Free Press and "MAC" - The Metropolitan Affairs Coalition. They are named in honor of Neal Shine - former publisher and editor of the Detroit Free Press, who passed away in 2007. During his long career, he was known for his commitment to our community.
Thursday morning, three people with that same commitment were honored for their work and leadership. Beaumont Dr. Asha Shajahan is one of them - but admits medicine wasn't her goal at first as she was growing up.
"I was one of those people who wanted to be everything other than a doctor probably," she said. "I wanted to be a teacher, I wanted to be a weather girl, then I wanted to be an engineer – but I always loved people."
Dr. Shajahan remembers when her path became clear. The Northville native attended Nebraska's Creighton University and would often volunteer in underserved areas.
The pivotal moment for her came when she helped a homeless woman suffering from diabetes and had no way to treat it.
Beaumont Dr. Asha Shajahan
"She couldn’t afford care and I think that really struck me her issue wasn’t diet and exercise – she didn’t have a frig to store her insulin," Shajahan said. "That really got me into the social determinants of health."
Leaning how our social circumstances drive our health outcomes - she was determined to make a difference. Using her passion for people and community service Dr. Shajahan became a board-certified family physician.
The selfless doctor leaves little time for herself as the medical director for Beaumont Hospital in Grosse Pointe and the East Area Family Practice in Roseville.
She also practices what she preaches - Dr. Shajahan teaches medical residents about health equity, while she spends countless volunteer hours treating the homeless population at the Pope Francis Center in downtown Detroit.
When the shelter closed during Covid, she took her medical care to the streets - literally.
Beaumont Dr. Asha Shajahan volunteering at the height of Covid.
"It was a no-brainer," she said. "I wasn’t sitting there thinking what can I do to help, it was like let’s go, let’s do this.
"I was there during the day four days a week in the height of Covid, we didn't have vaccines, no PPE, and at night I would work at the hospital."
But her work isn't over, Dr. Shajahan's latest mission is to dispel myths and provide accurate information about the Covid vaccine.
It's Dr. Shajahan's patient care, compassion for our vulnerable populations, and tireless efforts to close healthcare gaps and educate those around her, that earned her the Eleanor Josaitis Unsung Hero Award.
It is named after the co-founder of Focus: HOPE who spent her life, fighting injustice, poverty, and racism.
Beaumont Dr. Asha Shajahan.
"Being affiliated with that name is so humbling - she has done so much work for the underserved for her lifetime," Shajahan said. "It is such an honor.
"I didn’t understand what it was for, because I was just doing what I would do. I didn’t feel like I was going above and beyond."
FOX 2: "You have done so much work – but in your opinion what work is left to be done?"
"We need to get this country vaccinated we have to get rid of this virus," she said. "It’s not going to go away. we need to educate people."
Beaumont Dr. Asha Shajahan was chosen for the Eleanor Josaitis Unsung Hero Award.