Accomplished Alum Establishes Appreciation-based Scholarships

Accomplished+Alum+Establishes+Appreciation-based+Scholarships

Ella Dorfman, Managing Editor

Urban legend stands that 2006 West Shore graduate Shiv Gaglani co-founded health education platform Osomosis.org,  met Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg while attending Harvard, authored two books, and was featured on the Forbes 30 Under 30 List in 2018. Shiv said one of these is not true. 

Shiv never met Zuckerberg, but he met Kang-Xing Jan, the Head of Health at Facebook. Shiv studied Biomedical Engineering and Health Policy at Harvard from 2006 to 2010, returning between 2014 and 2016 for his Master of Business Administration.  Jan is featured on Osomosis’ podcast “Raise the Line.”

“That’s funny,” Shiv said. “[Zuckerberg] left Harvard two years before I started, but I met a lot of the people he recruited for Facebook. For example, [Jan] and I had the same adviser at Harvard.”

The urban legend was revived when Gaglani and his sister Anuska helped announce the creation of the Dr. Mukesh and Vanita Scholarship and the West Shore Teacher and Staff Scholarship to Brevard Public Schools in October. They were happy to give back to BPS students and their role models.

“We realized that much of what our opportunities and success were from two big sources in our lives,” Shiv said. “Our parents, clearly number one, and number two, our teachers and staff.”

The Dr. Mukesh & Vanita Gaglani Scholarship honors the Gaglanis’ parents and parental models of BPS students. The second scholarship, honoring the West Shore teachers and staff who supported Shiv in school, is specifically for at least one student at West Shore. The main requirement for the applications is to write an appreciative letter to anyone who has aided the applicant in life. Each recipient of the two scholarships is awarded $5,000 in cash, split between the students and the people of appreciation. 

Dr. Mukesh and Vanita Gaglani, Shiv and Anushka’s parents, are immigrants from India and Africa. Shiv was born in Africa, and Anushka was born in India.

“Both of us have always been interested in doing philanthropy and giving back because we are immigrants ourselves and our parents are immigrants,” Shiv said. “The scholarship was the first big [philanthropic] thing connected to where we grew up.”

Shiv said he hopes the recipients of the letters and the writers will share joy, which is one of the goals of Osmosis.

“The problem with all the scholarships I’ve seen is that oftentimes you write this essay, but then it will just disappear,” he said. “At a minimum, even if you don’t win the scholarship, you’ve gone through the process of sharing that with someone who’s had an impact on your life. Those who apply develop skills on the basis of at least my and Anushka’s experience in how we have been entrepreneurs and relatively successful so far.”

One of Shiv’s inspirations for the scholarships was the essay he wrote about math teacher Annie Nery after earning the Presidential Scholarship his senior year. The U.S. Presidential Scholars program recognizes up to 161 exceptional graduating high school seniors every year. The essay requirement for the scholarship prompt includes recognizing important people in the candidates’ lives.

“This didn’t come out of nowhere, so I’m sure [the Presidential Scholarship essay] was one of our inspirations,” Shiv said. “One thing I liked about the Presidential Scholarship was that they gave an all-expense paid trip to teachers. Ms. Nery appreciated that, and we loved having her there.”

Nery was surprised about Shiv’s essay and invitation to stay in Washington D.C. for three nights for his Presidential Scholarship recognition. Nery taught Shiv’s Geometry Honors and Calculus AB classes.

“All of a sudden, in May, I get this package at home,” Nery said. “I opened it, and it said ‘Congratulations, Shiv nominated you as his teacher and you’re invited to attend his trip.’ I called his mom right away. I’m like ‘What is this?’ She was like, ‘[Shiv] wanted to surprise you.’”

Shiv has remained close to West Shore and its people. He got to know principal Rick Fleming more through the years.

“Every time I visited my parents in Melbourne, I’ve tried to keep in touch with Mrs. Jenkins, Mrs. Nery, and Mr. Melia,” Shiv said. “When I graduated college, one of the things I did was I ran a free SAT and ACT prep course in Melbourne. A lot of [the attendees] were West Shore students. I’ve been impressed and proud of [Fleming] and the teachers, staff, and students for all the major accomplishments they’ve had over the 16 years since I graduated.”

Fleming had 2002 Cocoa Beach Junior/Senior High School graduate Anushka as a student in the International Bureaucrat program when he was an assistant principal, but he has not seen her since. Fleming knew of Shiv, but he did not have him at West Shore when he became a principal in 2007.

“In the past, Shiv was the kind of student that had done so many things at West Shore that kind of everybody knew who he was,” Fleming said. “Shiv’s name was around the county as one of the top students. I just remember Anushka as this wonderful, nice, affable young lady. I was hoping to see her when we rolled out the scholarship.”

Fleming likes the scholarship because it focuses on students’ humane side and not their academic merit.

“In my experience, as a principal here I have met so many students that have such a high aptitude and high degree of competence, but there’s something lacking when it comes to the social-emotional side and relationships,” he said. “Being very driven [and] very motivated is a wonderful thing — I’m not knocking that — but to have that vulnerable side is very difficult to find.”

Shiv said it is important to “build that muscle of gratitude,” and the scholarships are ways to do so.

“I truly want to encourage people to do that because that will take you far,” Shiv said. “The secret of gratitude is it makes you happier than the people who receive that gratitude.”

Nery said the essay represents just one example of Shiv’s gratitude. 

“He’s just thankful that all of us worked and helped him get to where he is now,” she said. “We really probably didn’t, because he’s so naturally intelligent, he could have done it without our help. But then again, he always looks back and appreciates everything that West Shore has done for him.”

Nery said besides providing monetary assistance, Shiv also helps with academic assistance through tutoring.

“He wants to help [students] get through college, jobs, and networking,” Nery said. “He wants the students to develop the ability to network and to basically do anything with the right people.”

Although the scholarship money’s use is unrestricted, Shiv wants recipients to use it for furthering their education. 

“If we had applied to the scholarship, our parents probably would have given us the money,” Shiv said. “But for teachers and staff who are widely unrecognized and underpaid, my hope is that they can use that money for whatever they like.”

Fleming said Shiv inspires him to nurture his relationships and to be grateful.

“The power of anything we do as human beings no matter how successful we are is grounded in the relationships you’ve built along your journey,” Fleming said.  

Anushka said there is a myth of a self-made person.

“No person is an island, and there’s always someone, somewhere, at some point in their life to get them to where they are,” she said. 

Shiv invites people who read about the scholarships to reach out to him on LinkedIn.

“This is a call to action for any West Shore student who reads the ‘Roar’ to feel free to network if I can be helpful,” he said.