Cincinnatus Scholar Amit Zachariah Committed to Service
Date: Dec. 5, 2001
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos by Colleen Kelley
College life has been a big change for Amit Zachariah of Kankakee, Ill., a full Cincinnatus Scholarship recipient who at age 17 entered the University of Cincinnati in fall 2001. He attended a small, private high school and was valedictorian of his graduating class at Bishop McNamara.
Growing up with an older sister, Amit had a bedroom all to himself. Now this premed biology major says he's happily adjusting to life on a large college campus, and sharing his living quarters with three roommates at Daniels Hall. "That was a little weird at first - four people in one room, but I wound up with good roommates, so I don't have any complaints."
Before coming to UC, Amit was also reunited with grandparents and relatives he hadn't seen since he was a little boy. He was six years old when his parents moved from south India to the United States. The summer after his high school graduation, he traveled with his parents and sister to Ernakulam and Trivandrum, India to reconnect with his extended family. "I got to see all my cousins that I hadn't seen in years and I met a lot of cousins I had never met before. It was really fun."
The visit also turned into an exploration of his family's culture, which resulted in a new enthusiasm for cricket, a popular sport in India. "Cricket is to India what soccer is to England or baseball is to America. My grandfather could watch cricket all day - everyone plays it. I actually didn't know anything about cricket and now I'm the biggest fan. I even played it with my cousins."
As he geared up for college and med school, Amit says his father was a little concerned about his son following in his father's footsteps. Amit's father is a pulmonologist. "He was pretty adamant about me not just doing what he's doing. He was actually trying to dissuade me from becoming a doctor, but I told him that's what I really want to do, so he said okay."
Amit credits his high school teacher and academic clubs for building his love for biology. Like many academically excelling high school students, he's finding he studies more than he did in high school. "Each floor (of Daniels residence hall) has a study lounge and each floor has a study room with doors you can close if you don't want to be in an open lounge. If it's too crowded on the floor, I'll either go to Langsam Library or to the 11th floor of Daniels, where there's a little computer lab and study area."
In addition to his studies, Amit continues his commitment to community service, a commitment that was rewarded by the Cincinnatus Scholarship as part of the university's recognition of the value of service. During his high school years, he volunteered at his community hospital and also would entertain residents, playing the violin, at two nursing homes in his hometown. At UC, Amit joined Circle K, a student service organization. As part of the group's Halloween activities, students went "trick or treating" for canned goods to donate to a local food pantry.
"I think volunteering is an all-around good thing, not just for the people you're helping but for yourself, too. You just feel good after you do it, because you know you did something that was not for yourself, but for others. Once you volunteer, you just want to keep doing more and more for others."
Amit's philosophy is shared by the University of Cincinnati's Cincinnatus Scholarship awards, which recognize not only academic achievement, but also the student's dedication to service and leadership.