The son of Guyanese immigrants, Travis Ghirdharie is proud of where his family came from.
His family, on the other hand, is very proud of where Travis is going.
The 2013 Schenectady High School graduate will attend Cornell University in the fall, and will be the first of his family to ever attend college.
“I’m very happy he’s going there,” said his mother, Roamwattie Ghirdharie.
Travis, who skipped first grade and will be starting college at the tender age of 16, has big plans for his time at Cornell. He’s tackling a triple major — government, economics and statistics.
“I like a challenge,” he said simply.
That’s evident when he lists all of the activities he’s been involved in during high school: He was part of the Sponsor a Scholar program, a tutor for the Liberty Partnership program, president and former public relations officer for the Student Ambassadors Club, and also attended multiple academically oriented summer programs.
He was voted “Most Likely to be President” this year by his classmates at Schenectady High School, and hopes to be employed by the government one day, either in the Legislature or the United Nations. He also has aspirations to work on Wall Street.
Helped start fund
Volunteer work is very important to him too.
Last year, he and his family started The Golden Education Fund, a foundation that helps Guyanese preschoolers start their education off on the right foot.
“My brother and I started selling candy in school in order to fund the organization and we got a lot of donations from many people in Schenectady and New York City, and within two months we collected $900,” he said.
With that money, they purchased school supplies and toys for the preschoolers and personally delivered them to the school in Guyana.
In March, Travis won the YMCA’s Outstanding Student of the Year award and dedicated $400 of the $500 in prize money to The Golden Education Fund. The other $100 went to Edesia Global Nutrition Solutions, a nonprofit organization that makes Plumpy’nut, a peanut-based paste designed to treat acute malnutrition.
Travis has been honored with other awards as well, including the Ralph F. Boyd Sr. Human Rights Award, the University at Albany’s Multicultural High School Achievers Award and the University of Rochester Xerox Award.
In his spare time, he plays six musical instruments: the harmonium, dholak, tabla, dhantal, jhaal and piano. He shares his talent by playing at Shri Raam Mandir in Schenectady, as well as at weddings and other ceremonies.
In the summertime, he helps his father sell food and drinks at weekly cricket games in Central Park and also helps his uncle install cabinets.
He helps a lot around the house, too, his mom noted.
“He’s very willing to help if I ask him. He’s respectful,” she said. “He has two younger siblings and they look up a lot to him, so they try to follow in his footsteps.”
Travis said he’s excited that his footsteps will now lead off to college.
“The tension is building up but I think I’m ready. At least I hope I’m ready,” he said with a laugh.