Yardley’s Neha Gupta, 17, a Pennsbury High School senior, was recently awarded a $5,000 Zinch Community Service Scholarship from the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS), an international organization dedicated to recognizing academic talent.
The NSHSS believes in the importance of community service and making the world a better place, so it was no surprise that Neha received this scholarship, considering she founded her own non-profit organization at the young age of nine.
Although Neha is an AP Honors Student, she recognizes the importance of balancing schoolwork with community service.
In order to apply for the Zinch Community Service Scholarship, Neha was required to write a short essay describing why she thought she was “more than a test score,” emphasizing any leadership roles and community service projects in which she has participated.
Neha wrote about her non-profit organization, Empower Orphans. Its focus is to help create self-sufficiency by supplying these orphans with the tools they need to gain a basic education and technical skills to enable a sustainable livelihood leading to productive and positive contributions to society.
In addition, Empower Orphans provides food and clothing in order to establish an effective learning environment. It also provides medical supplies and health care to better enable a learning environment.
Neha explains that her idea for Empower Orphans was born during an annual vacation of visiting her grandparents who live in India.
It is a Gupta family tradition to celebrate family birthdays by taking food and gifts to orphaned children.
As a young child, Neha went to these orphanages with her grandparents and played with the children during their visits.
However, when Neha turned nine, she suddenly became aware of the harsh life these children endured.
“These kids didn’t have money to go to school or get the medical treatment they needed,” she explains.
When she returned from the visit, she told her parents she wanted to help the orphans by establishing her own organization.
It started small with Neha gathering all her toys from her garage and hosting a yard sale to raise money for Empower Orphans.
She then started making crafts and selling them, along with crafts made by orphans.
Her organization evolved when she reached out to corporations for sponsorship opportunities. Over the years, she has organized many fundraisers.
Initially, Neha’s organization focused on orphanages in India, but it later expanded to help underprivileged youth in this country, and more recently it has extended into South and Central America.
“There is so much more to life than achieving a good grade,” says Neha. “Although I recognize the importance of getting good grades, I believe that it’s equally as important to get involved in the community because it offers such a fulfilling experience.
“By running my global organization, I’ve gained awareness about worldwide issues and compassion for other people.”
Neha’s community service organization led her to her career choice.
She says, “I want to become a pediatrician, so I can continue helping children here and in third world countries. All kids have a right to medical care, and I want to be one of those doctors who offer them that service.”
For more information about Empower Orphans, visit www.empowerorphans.org.
PHOTO CAP: Neha Gupta