Nikhil Desai Reflect and Learn COVID-19 Scholarship

Funded by
Nikhil Desai
Learn more about the Donor
1 winner
Application Deadline
Mar 1, 2021
Winners Announced
Mar 31, 2021
Education Level

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an extremely unique and life-altering period of time for everyone. 

Whether you contracted the virus or not, the pandemic, quarantine, and other guidelines surrounding the entire ordeal have changed everyone’s lives and who they are today.

The pandemic has manifested itself in various ways for different people. Some have benefitted from the life lessons they’ve learned while others have struggled with the negative effects of isolation and uncertainty. 

The Nikhil Desai Reflect and Learn COVID-19 Scholarship exists to encourage students to reflect on their COVID-19 experience. The scholarship will be awarded to one student in any field of study who best reflects the changes, both positive and negative, they’ve had to deal with through this unprecedented period of time.

Personal Development
Selection Criteria:
Essay, Reflect, Ambition, Drive, Vision
Essay Topic

Please reflect on how COVID-19 has affected your life. What have you learned about yourself and about the world during this time?

250–1000 words

Winning Application

Kirsten Corrigan
Baruch College Campus High SchoolNew York, NY
The broken street light on 76th, where you can cross both ways at once. The Wagner MS 167 poster, tacked onto the bulletin board of 82nd since the 1980s. The Pavilion Building on 78th, where I used to trick or treat every Halloween. All of these lie within the ten blocks between 1560 York Avenue to 1360 York Avenue. I’ve walked these ten blocks my entire life, making my way from my mom’s apartment to my dad’s apartment and back again. I never fully acknowledged the importance of noticing the small fragments of what makes up this walk - that is, not until the last six months. I still try to take that same ten-block walk every week, but now, I find myself trying to inhale every little detail along the way. I step out of my mom’s vestibule door at 1560 York Avenue and the strong whiff of sausage stretches across the street from Ottomanelli’s on 82nd. Its forest green awning looks the same as always, simple and slightly run down. There, under that awning, I first met my guitar teacher eight years ago. I pass my friend Julia’s building on 81st, D'Agostino’s grocery store on the corner of 80th, my old elementary school that encompasses the entire block between 78th and 77th. I pause, remembering myself as a kindergartner, wishing I could have my older brother’s teacher, now realizing she’s chosen me as her assistant for the past five years. I cross the intersection, wondering if the sweet elderly couple still rents videos on 76th, and as I move along to 75th, I can taste the brownies my grandma would buy for me every day after elementary school from Beanocchio's. The next place, on 72nd, is my final destination. Here, too, everything is the same as it’s always been. That is, except for one thing: there is a ‘for rent’ sign hanging from my dad’s apartment window.  On April 16th of 2020, during the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, my dad passed away from stage four lung cancer, metastatic to his brain. He lived his last days in 1360 York Avenue, Apartment L4. My mom, brother, and I crammed ourselves inside of this space for the months leading up to his death, laughing with him, dressing up for my parents' Zoom wedding (yes, they got married over Zoom during the pandemic), or simply being present in the space he had occupied for decades.  Back in my childhood bedroom, I stood against the “height wall,” where I still measured the same as I had in seventh grade. Beside my dad’s bed, which had been moved to the living room, I spent hours staring at his handmade artwork, “Birds of Paradise,” a drawing of a flower enclosed in a cylindrical glass frame with beautiful blue hummingbirds painted on it. And I had time to contemplate his multiple sculptures from all around the world, the inexplicable clutter all over his living room table, and listening to his lengthy stories that accompanied random photographs scattered throughout his apartment. A familiar voice jolts me back into the present, and I hear the building’s superintendent discussing water pressure with a tenant, someone I know I’ve met countless times before, but whose name I now shamefully realize I’ve never even learned. Cracking a small smile, I wave to them, take a deep breath, and round the corner. This turn leads me to a man-made patio with a waterfall in its center, a patio where my dad frequently brought me when I was younger. I take a seat on a bench, absorbing the sounds of the water moving up and down among the chattering voices around me. “Kirsten, you are always to take it all in, okay? Notice the little things, notice the people, make sure everyone is seen, make sure everyone is heard as well.” He said this to me when I was sixteen, the last time we went to the waterfall together. I know what he meant, now. I try every day to see the world as he did, always appreciating the small things, never underestimating their significance. 


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Mar 1, 2021. Winners will be announced on Mar 31, 2021.

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