Neha Maheshwari: 2010 University of Cincinnati C-Ring Recipient
The C-Ring is presented to an outstanding graduating undergraduate woman at a banquet held each May at the University of Cincinnati. From this year's initial field of 31 worthy nominees, only one could be chosen. That one is Neha Maheshwari.
The C-Ring recognizes women who work to improve the quality of life in our communities and who feel a responsibility to the greater world, said Kimberly Bauer, 2009 C-Ring recipient. Our 2010 C-Ring recipient is a stellar example of the C-Ring qualities we honor academic excellence, service, leadership and advocacy for women and girls. She then presented the C-Ring to Neha Maheshwari, one of the five remaining finalists.
Neha Maheshwari came to UC after being awarded one of only 10 full Cincinnatus Scholarships and, while still a senior in high school, she was guaranteed admission to the UC College of Medicine upon completion of her undergraduate career under UCs dual admissions program. She was named an honorary member of the Darwin T. Turner Scholars and she received a full scholarship to participate in the spring 2010 Semester at Sea Study Abroad program, visiting 11 countries in just over four months.
Neha was selected to participate in the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) summer research program at the end of her freshman year. The quality of her research led faculty mentors to offer her a part-time research assistant position in the Neurology Lab at Cincinnati Childrens Hospital Medical Center. She was first undergraduate student to be invited to present her research at the National Neuroscience convention in 2007 in San Diego.
Her nominator, Lucinda Cohen, wrote, Since her freshman year, she has continuously sought out opportunities to make the University of Cincinnati community a more diverse, culturally rich, service driven and cohesive student body.
As service chair and vice president of the University Honors Program, Neha has led student teams on a bi-weekly basis to paint and remodel homes in Over-The-Rhine, an inner-city Cincinnati neighborhood. She was instrumental in revitalizing the Asian American Association at UC and worked collaboratively with the other ethnic student organizations Vietnamese, Hispanic, African-American to host an end-of-the year formal.
During her Semester at Sea, she led a group of fellow seafaring students to her hometown in India, Hyderad, to visit her grandmothers college, Sumans Girls College.
We were a diverse group, including Nigerian, Indian and Jewish students, she recalls. We talked with the girls about the value and importance of education. Then we all talked about overcoming obstacles. Our struggles may have been different from theirs, but it united us on a deeper level.
An aspiring physician, Neha now graduates from the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences with a major in cell and molecular biology and a minor in chemistry. She also graduates with a 3.83 grade point average.
She has already been accepted into medical school in UCs College of Medicine through UCs dual admissions program, as has her brother who enters UC as a freshman in the fall. Whereas she is especially interested in pediatric cardiology, her brother Neeraj hopes to go into surgery.
My dad has had several surgeries on both his knees, and despite the number of doctors visits, they have never completely healed, Neha says. Neeraj wants to fix them for him!
Neha is very proud of her brother and looks forward to having him in Cincinnati with her as they attend UC together.
Well have two Bearcats in the family! she says.
Neha is clearly devoted to her family, especially her parents and grandmother. Her mother, Anna, is the dean of the English Department at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan.
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My parents faced many obstacles that my brother and I will never face, like having to get visas, facing prejudices. They did the hard work for us and now have showered us with opportunities, she explains. Mom was teaching English, for example, and the kids did a double take and said, Is this Indian lady teaching us English? My mother taught us that anything is possible.
Nehas father, Neal, is a mechanical engineer at Ford Motor Company and then earned his MBA from the University of Michigan. He has always encouraged Neha to never stop learning.
Education will never go to waste, he told me, she says. So I tell my brother, Get every minor you can get; take every class you can take at UC. She also hopes to earn a masters degree in public health someday.
Neha says that her grandmother, Saroj Bajaj, is an inspiration for everything I do.
After being married at the age of 16 in an arranged marriage, she went back to school and became a professor of Hindi at Osmania University in Hyderabad, India. She started saving money from her paychecks and eventually was able to start the womens college, with free room and board for more than 400 young ladies, especially impoverished women, orphans and unwed mothers who had been shunned by their families.
Her grandmother opened a bank where she would offer low-interest loans to families so that even the poorest families could take advantage of microfinancing. Bajaj was honored with the best citizen award from Mother Teresa in 2004.
Many people have benefitted from her presence, as many have been able to set up small businesses and further the education of their children, says Neha. The last time I was there, the president of India came down to inaugurate the second floor of the womens college. Its still running completely on private donations.
Nehas dream is to open a nonprofit healthcare facility near her grandmothers college. Throughout her life runs the common thread of improving the status of women and girls. She says that she feels driven to helping people in poverty who dont have access to education and healthcare, whether in the United States or India. Every other summer for the last nine years, for example, Neha has traveled to her familys homeland in India to volunteer and set up education seminars, health clinics and blood drives at her grandmothers college.
After graduating, the girls give back to the college, Neha says with pride. If I can affect one person, that person can affect others when Im out of the picture, thats really succeeding.
Read More C-Ring News
4/27/2010 And Then There Were Five
From 31 nominees, the selection committee has narrowed the field to five finalists for the C-Ring, one of the oldest and most prestigious awards given at the University of Cincinnati.
6/14/2009 She's Walked in Commencement, Now C-Ring Winner Shadows Doctors in Burn Clinic in South America
Kimberly Bauer knows when youre helping people with their health care that you need to speak their language. She has just the right personal chemistry to do that. It also helps that shes graduating with a double major in chemistry and Spanish.
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