The Park Scholarships Class of 2025 has a 40th Park Scholar thanks to an innovative gift from the family of Anushri Desai '10.
During this year’s application cycle, a candidate asked Selection Committee volunteer Anushri Desai ’10 if she could change one thing about the Park Scholarships program, what would it be? The answer was immediate: have more Park Scholars. Due to funding, the anticipated size for the Park Scholarships Class of 2025 had been 39 students. Thanks to a new gift established by the Desai family, there are now 40 Park Scholars in the Class of 2025.
Anushri’s father Vijay Desai wanted to make an immediate impact. His gift, given in honor of his late wife, Maya, and daughter Anushri, has provided the funding to bring the 40th Park Scholar in the Class of 2025 to NC State.
“I’ve never been so proud of Dad,” Anushri shared.
Anushri Desai ’10 (second from left) with her brother, Svetang, and parents, Maya and Vijay
Vijay and Maya both earned master’s degrees from NC State. Vijay is a 1972 graduate of NC State’s master’s in textile chemistry program and Maya completed her master’s in statistics in 1971. Though both her parents had attended NC State, Anushri had a completely different experience as an undergraduate. The elder Desais had arrived at NC State as international students from India with only a few suitcases. For Anushri, the Park Scholarships program was key in helping the Tennessee native find her own path and navigate the many opportunities available at NC State.
“The Park Scholarships program made a huge campus manageable, and NC State’s huge campus allowed me to do anything and everything I wanted to do.” — Anushri Desai ’10
Anushri is a Park Scholar in the Class of 2010. She graduated just over a decade ago with a degree in biochemistry and is now a doctor specializing in cardiothoracic anesthesia. She also serves on the Park Scholarships Selection Committee and keeps her family updated about the program.
Vijay and Maya were keen to pay forward the support their family received from the Park Scholarships program. The couple had conversations for years about how they wanted to support the Park Scholarships program.
“Anushri could have gone to any school she wanted,” Vijay explained. “She came to NC State as a Park Scholar — it was another feather in her cap.”
Vijay, who worked in textiles quality control for Shaw Industries for 35 years before retiring recently, and Maya, who worked as an actuary before retiring and volunteering for United Way, had painstakingly saved up for their children’s education.
“My parents — immigrant Americans — sacrificed anything and everything to give their kids the best that was there,” Anushri said. “The Park Scholarship certainly eased the financial burden of college, but my parents had prepared for that. They wanted to give that back and it was a point of discussion for many years.”
Vijay and Maya have exemplified the Park Scholarships pillars of scholarship, leadership, service, and character in their own lives. Maya volunteered at United Way for seven years after her retirement and Vijay helps out at Signal Centers in Chattanooga by building support equipment for disabled adults and children.
The Desai family had been contemplating how to pay forward the benefits of the Park Scholarships program for more than a decade when they learned that the Class of 2025 was expected to have only 39 students. They reached out to help. In the process, they established a new way to bring more Park Scholars to NC State immediately. With a $112,000 current-use gift, they created the 40th spot in the Park Scholarships Class of 2025 and helped propel the program to a record total of more than half a million dollars in gifts on NC State Day of Giving.
“We believe so strongly in what the Park Scholarships program gave to me and thrive on seeing its continued impact on future leaders.” — Anushri Desai ’10
Anushri’s class had 50 scholars. “Our family would love to see it back to that number. One more is one closer to that number and one more person that is given everything the program has to offer,” she shared.
In establishing this new way to support the Park Scholarships program, the family hopes to inspire other potential donors interested in growing the number of Park Scholars at NC State.
“My motivation is to return the benefit Anushri received and to do something good for the program. My hope is that this may inspire others to do the same,” Vijay shared. This gift expands not only the Park Scholarships Class of 2025, but also the network of nearly 1,200 Park Scholars and creates a new opportunity for potential donors to make an impact for the program.
Earlier in the fall, Chancellor Randy Woodson stressed the importance of bringing more Park Scholars to NC State. “Park Scholars are leaders on campus and they’re always the first to help the university think about things that we can do to improve for the future. The one thing that I would say is most critical to us going forward is to increase the number of Parks Scholars we have on campus.”
Anushri concurred with this assessment. “Being surrounded by equally motivated people is such an underemphasized asset,” she explained. “My greatest accomplishment from my four years at NC State is very simply the relationships that I built. I failed and faltered many times but my support system pushed me to stay true to my goals. [Park Scholarships Director] Eva [Feucht] never let me slip. She kept me honest to myself while allowing me the freedom to make mistakes.”
To the 40 Park Scholars in the Class of 2025 who will arrive on campus in August, Anushri sends encouragement to completely engage in the NC State and Park Scholarships experience. “Four years goes by quickly. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and motivate you. Make smart decisions but realize that sometimes the greatest successes come from the biggest risks. It’s okay to fail. Have fun.”
The Park Scholarships program prepares young leaders dedicated to service to make a difference in the world. By investing in Park Scholars, donors plant a seed for change that will be paid forward for decades to come. Make a gift to Park Scholarships today.