Hope and optimism are the two things that allow us to continue forging on amid these times and have the confidence to know that we will get through this together. Many feelings of hope and optimism come from our youth—whether they are remaining excited about their future plans or fighting for social justice issues, they have proven that nothing can hold them back, not even the roller coaster of 2020.
A few weeks ago, former President Barack Obama addressed the nation’s graduating high school seniors. There is no doubt that the graduating class of 2020 is resilient and promising and this rings true for many of the students that the Foundation has interacted with through the Youth In Philanthropy program.
Nandini Mandaloju, a recent graduate of Holliston High School and a former junior board member for YIP has high hopes for her future despite any obstacles that the global health pandemic may have thrown her way. Luckily, before the pandemic started, Mandaloju knew that she would begin her freshman year as a mid-year student starting in January 2021, so her plans have not been extremely altered by the pandemic.
After taking a gap semester in the fall, where she will continue working at Kumon and furthering her philanthropic efforts within her community, Mandaloju will attend Brandeis University in the spring of 2021, studying neuroscience on the premed track.
“I hope to be an OB-GYN and work in women’s health based in South Asia because I’ve seen how taboo this subject can be over there. I believe that philanthropy should include dollars, but it should also be service for your community. If you have a passion for something, you should think about ways to use that within your community, which is ultimately what I want to do,” said Mandaloju.
After joining Youth In Philanthropy in 10th grade and not knowing much about philanthropy, the program has taught her the importance of giving back to the community. YIP was also a place for Mandaloju to step outside her comfort zone and make friendships and connections that will last a lifetime.
“Without Youth In Philanthropy, I would be a completely different person,” she said.
Throughout the pandemic, the thing that has kept Mandaloju the most hopeful is the solidarity people have shown for their communities, whether it was making masks or collecting items for the food pantry—it has shown the strength in community. It is these small acts of service that remind us we are stronger together and keep us hopeful for the future.