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August 10, 2010 > Irvington grad recognized for service

Irvington grad recognized for service

By Rajeswari Ramanathan
Photos By courtesy of Pooja Shah

After being awarded the prestigious Presidential Scholar award and becoming a Coca-Cola Scholar, Irvington High School graduate Pooja K. Shah once again brought recognition to Fremont by becoming one of the national winners of the Kohl's "Kids Who Care Scholarship." Shah, along with nine other national winners, will be receiving $9,000 for her post-secondary education, as well as an additional $1,000 to donate to a charity of her choice. (Previously, Shah had received a $1,000 scholarship from Kohl's as one of their regional finalists.)

Shah has been performing various service activities in her community throughout her high school career. Shah contributed to her community not only to earn sufficient service hours for her high school requirement, but to actually see a change in her community.

Shah says, "I get to be part of a really cool community of awesome kids who are doing things to better their world. It's inspiring and humbling."

Shah has been awarded the Kohl's "Kids Who Care Scholarship" for extensive service in her organization, Just Start Inc. After initiating this organization two years ago, Shah was inspired to do something to offer lifelong learning for underprivileged kids in India as well as across the world.

She first created an after-school program for second and third graders at local elementary schools in Fremont and Hayward. Through Just Start Inc., she has positively impacted the lives of over 600 children. Yet this project was not accomplished by her efforts alone. Shah, along with a team of other young adults, mentors these children and shows them their potential for the future.

With her dreams to start a program in India as well, Shah raised over $20,000 in one year, enough to fund the tuition for 500 primary school children in India.

"Kids like Pooja embody the true meaning of volunteerism. She has demonstrated through her commitment to helping kids realize their full potential, that people - regardless of age - are capable of remarkable and inspiring accomplishments," said Julie Gardner, Kohl's executive vice president and chief marketing officer. "Kohl's is very proud to recognize and support the education of these extraordinary individuals [national winners] and hopes their selfless acts will inspire more young people to make a positive difference in their community."

Begun in 2001, Kohl's "Kids Who Care Scholarship" has influenced the lives of over 11,000 volunteers throughout the country. Kohl's has recognized more than 2,100 nominees between the ages of 6 through 19 with more than $410,000 in scholarships and prizes.

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