Penn State Schreyer Scholar wins 2014 International Children's Peace Prize

November 18, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State student and first-year Schreyer Honors College scholar Neha Gupta today (Nov. 18) accepted the 2014 International Children’s Peace Prize Award for her exceptional work to raise money for underprivileged children around the world.

She is a scholar in the Eberly College of Science and will be entering the pre-medicine program.

Netherlands King Willem-Alexander, former archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai presented Gupta with her award during a ceremony at The Hague, Netherlands.

Inspired by what she saw during a visit to India with her grandparents, Gupta founded Empower Orphans, an organization designed to support orphaned and abandoned children in India and the United States.

Her work, which she started at age 9, has grown into a charity that to date has raised over $1 million and has helped more than 25,000 children. The list of projects includes opening libraries, developing paths to health care, and promoting education.

The award is widely accepted as the most prestigious international award a young person can win. Last year’s winner was Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education, who went on to become the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014.

“Neha’s leadership, vision and work ethic have helped countless orphaned, abandoned and impoverished children, and most remarkably she was just a child herself when she began this work,” said Penn State President Eric Barron. “We’re very proud that she has been recognized with the 2014 International Peace Prize, and hope that this visibility will inspire others to also pursue worthy endeavors to benefit humankind.”

The International Children’s Peace Prize was created by the Amsterdam-based children’s rights organization, KidsRights, and is awarded to a child whose work and actions have made a significant, positive impact in improving children’s rights worldwide. According to the organization’s website, the selection committee looks for, “A child [that] must have a clear history of standing up and fighting for the rights of him/herself and other children. It is important that the child has an active approach in accomplishing this goal, which has led to a concrete result.”

“While Neha is only a first-year student, she is already fulfilling the vision of the Schreyer Honors College as we strive to educate men and women who will have an important and ethical influence in the world. Neha’s altruism and leadership in service to others presents a powerful and positive force that embodies not only the philanthropic energy of Penn State, but also the desire to be better, to do more, and to have a meaningful and lasting impact on the world around us,” said Christian M. M. Brady, dean of the Schreyer Honors College.

While the focus of her work began with orphans in India, Gupta has also helped many families around Philadelphia, where her family lives.

“Neha’s devotion to children is inspirational. Her commitment to making the world a better place for orphans is so much of what the Schreyer Honors College celebrates,” Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Nichola Gutgold said. “Our mission includes building a global perspective and creating opportunities for leadership and civic engagement for our Scholars. Neha’s work certainly fulfills our mission in a most outstanding way,” Brady said.

The International Children’s Peace Price isn’t the first time Gupta’s work has been celebrated. She won numerous awards including the 2011 World of Children Award, the President’s Volunteer Service Award, the Congressional Award, and also the national Prudential Spirit of Community award. Her efforts have been featured online, on television, as well as books and magazines.

Gupta was nominated alongside two other individuals, one who worked on improving Russia’s gay rights laws and the other who established a project to stop hunger in Somalia.

Along with the prize, a €100,000 grant will be given to projects closely associated with Neha’s area of dedication.

“All of us at Penn State are incredibly proud to have Neha here,” said Brady. “She not only inspires, but also challenges all of us to push ourselves beyond geographical and self-made boundaries to use our talents to help others in need. We are happy to welcome Neha into our community and look forward to supporting her future endeavors.”

More about Penn State

Penn State is in the top 1 percent of universities worldwide. Founded in 1855, it combines academic rigor with a vibrant campus life. Granted the highest rating for research universities by the Carnegie Foundation, Penn State teaches students to be leaders with a global perspective. It has the largest alumni network in the United States. For more information about Penn State, visit psu.edu.

More about the Schreyer Honors College

Schreyer Honors College is the nationally ranked honors college at Penn State University. Accepting only 300 first-year students annually, Schreyer Scholars, as they are known, represent the top 2 percent of students in academics at the University. But Scholars are not just about academic excellence, they are expected to have a broader commitment, a larger sense of the world and the impact their talents can have on the greater good. For more information about the Schreyer Honors College, visit shc.psu.edu.

  • Neha Gupta

    Penn State Schreyer Honors College Scholar Neha Gupta, founder of Empower Orphans

    IMAGE: EmpowerOrphans.org

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Last Updated December 17, 2014