Press Releases

2018 2017 2016 2015

Eight Talented New York High School Seniors Selected as 2016 Milken Scholars

In Addition to a $10,000 cash prize, the Scholarship Provides a Lifetime of Mentoring and Resources

June 9, 2016

Santa Monica, CA – The Milken Scholars, a joint initiative of the Milken Institute and the Milken Family Foundation, has selected eight exceptional high school seniors as 2016 Milken Scholars. The Scholars were chosen based on academic performance, community service, leadership and their ability to persevere in the face of challenges.

“We’re honored to welcome these exceptional students to the Milken Scholars family, where they’ll have the lifelong network and resources of 400 past and current honorees,” said Mike Milken, who cofounded the program with his wife Lori in 1989. “Each member of this year’s class has demonstrated the intelligence and fortitude to succeed despite significant obstacles, and we believe each has the capability to change the world. We’re confident they will.”

Scholars receive a $10,000 scholarship, but what makes the program unique is the access to a lifetime of resources provided to scholarship recipients.

The 2016 New York Milken Scholars and the universities they will attend are:

Geidily Beaton
Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education

Geidily Beaton 180w

As the assistant to the Gateway Institute for Pre-College Education at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in New York City, aspiring neurosurgeon Geidily Beaton has spent three years tutoring other students to prepare them for higher education, as well as raising funds for the program, organizing the internships and scholarships available to participants, and speaking at annual orientation meetings in front of hundreds of members. “Gateway has influenced every aspect of my life...and helped me achieve many of my goals,” says Geidily.

Inspired to pursue a career in medicine by her grandmother, who served as a community health practitioner in her native Dominican Republic, Geidily was chosen for the Hofstra Medical Pipeline, a competitive three-year internship through which she is becoming CPR certified and attends biannual conferences at Hofstra University. She also volunteers in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Elmhurst Hospital and raises awareness for body disorders like anorexia and bulimia with the Mirror Mission Club. Last summer Geidily studied genetics at the Harlem DNA lab, earning the opportunity to present her research at the Museum of Natural History. She will attend the seven-year medical program at the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at City College New York.

A member of the Arista National Honor Society, Geidily has been named Gateway’s Most Studious Lady Mentor, is on her school’s honor roll and Principal’s List, and won the Hot Pink Leadership Award and the Junior 100 Essay Contest. An avid dancer, Geidily is Executive of Public Affairs for her school’s dance committee and performed at the 100 Black Men’s annual conference in Houston.

Fei Huo
Harvard University

Fei Huo

As a student at the prestigious Guangzhou Ballet, Fei Huo worked hard physically but had little exposure to traditional academics. Fast-forward to today: a graduate of Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in New York City, Fei, an aspiring physician, AP Scholar and QuestBridge National College Match Finalist, has won many honors, including the Arista National Honor Society Award, Science Olympiad Competition, several robotics awards, and the Asian Americans for Equality’s Leadership Excellence Award. One of her teachers describes Fei as “undoubtedly the most extraordinary student I have encountered.”

At Columbia University, Fei studied with an engineering professor; the result was Oxilium, a prototype of an oxygen therapy device to help maintain oxygenation during patient transport in developing countries which Fei conceived, designed and built with a team. Fei is captain of her school’s Science Olympiad team; co-founder of the Robotics team, where her group built a piston-driven robot out of PVC piping; and founder of the Student Learning Alliances Club, which provides free tutoring to disadvantaged students. Fei also founded Future Doctors of America, the school’s medical club, which does research and teaches CPR skills. She volunteers with the CCHC (Chinese Christian Herald Crusades), a social service organization, as a Certified Emergency Medical Responder and teacher for special-education children. This summer she will work in Professor Paul Sajda’s neuroengineering lab at Columbia University. She will attend Harvard University and plans a career in medicine.

Dance still plays a large part in Fei’s life. In addition to teaching ballet, modern dance and Chinese folk dance at a local studio, she was invited to be a guest choreographer and performer for CCHC’s Culture Association, helping to organize several shows.

Nicole Litvitskiy
Haverford College

Nicole Litvitskiy

As a sophomore, Nicole Litvitskiy had a choice: step up as president of Project Love, a club at New York City’s Stuyvesant High School that raises awareness of mental health issues and provides students with peer counseling and support, or watch the group disappear. She took on the leadership role and became the group’s lead peer counselor, helping the faculty coordinator resolve many potential crisis situations and counseling young students faced with personal challenges, conflicts and dilemmas.

Nicole is also a mentor for the school’s SPARK program, which trains students in leadership skills, peer counseling, problem-solving, and community social awareness and activism. With SPARK, Nicole has helped with American Red Cross disaster relief, anti-bullying campaigns, school health fairs, National Red Ribbon Week for drug abuse prevention and awareness, and Smile Week, which promotes and addresses social and mental health awareness.

Inspired by her third-grade teacher, Nicole plans a career in mental health. Her academic achievements equal her community service: an AP Scholar with Honor and QuestBridge National College Match finalist, Nicole also won the William and Mary Leadership Award. She spends free periods as a student editor in Stuyvesant’s Writing Center, helping her peers shape and perfect essays and assignments. She has also worked as a camp counselor and at a preschool. “Nicole is one of the most well-rounded, well-organized and personable students I have ever met,” says one teacher who has worked with her closely for several years. She will study psychology and education at Haverford College.

Andrew Mandelstam
University of Chicago

Andrew Mandelstam

Four years in the Model Congress at New York City’s Horace Mann School have taught Andrew Mandelstam important life skills: how to debate both sides of an issue, deliver speeches in front of crowds, parse cur rent events, and, as the group’s Chairman of the Board this year, manage his peers with skillful leadership. “Model Congress helped to shape the way I think [and] furthered my interest in government and public service,” Andrew says.

Internships for U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty on Capitol Hill and for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio have cemented Andrew’s commitment to public service. “[Legislative] bills are not just abstract concepts,” he says. “They directly affect people’s lives. I have developed a keen sense of how I can use my education to help people who lack a voice.”

An AP Scholar with Honor, Andrew won honors in the National French Contests two years in a row. He spent two weeks at a French immersion program; at the end, he says, he was dreaming in French. Andrew also took an intensive course on National Security and Counterintelligence at Georgetown University and went to the University of Michigan for a course on “Art and Mathematics,” where he received a commendation for his final project. Andrew is a room leader for the Saturday Morning Tutoring Program, providing academic support to students in his community, and has worked at a food and clothing bank in Santa Barbara. After a gap year for a political internship, Andrew will study government at the University of Chicago and plans to pursue a career in politics.

Jia Ying (Jessica) Mei
Columbia University

Jia Ying Jessica Mei

Born in China but raised in the U.S. from an early age, Jia Ying Mei describes herself as a “bamboo knot” whose heritage gives her strength and tenacity. A graduate of New York’s Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Jia Ying has combined academic excellence with cross-cultural education and advocacy. She co-founded her school’s Asian American Student Alliance (AASA), which partners with community centers and nursing homes to to promote Asian culture and identity through shows, activities, language classes, and presentations on Asian American politics and media representation.

A member of the National Honor Society, QuestBridge National College Match Finalist and AP Scholar with Honor, Jia Ying has won the QuestBridge College Prep Scholarship, Sponsors for Educational Opportunity Ambassador Award, and National Security Language Initiative for Youth Scholarship, which sent her to Korea for six weeks of language study. She is an editor, writer and photographer for her school’s student news website and an ambassador for Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO Scholars), an academic program for high-achieving students in New York City public schools.

Jia Ying teaches English as a second language through Chinatown Youth Initiatives, mentors homeless children with New York Cares, and has led fundraising for her school’s participation in CANstruction NYC, an engineering competition where teams build structures out of canned foods. As a community activist and intern with CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, she works as an interpreter at the New York City Housing Authority to improve Asian tenants' living conditions, build equitable language access, and fight for public housing preservation. Jia Ying will study economics and political science at Columbia University and plans a career in diplomacy.

Tenzin Ngodup
Wesleyan University

Tenzin Ngodup

The valedictorian at Jamaica Gateway to the Sciences in New York, Tenzin Ngodup has excelled in both the classroom and his community.

He is a member of the National Honor Society and recipient of the QuestBridge Match and Ronald McDonald House scholarship. During an internship with a biochemistry professor at Queens College, Tenzin explored the ability of nanoparticles to deliver drugs to cell-specific locations. He is co-president of his school’s student government; has organized hospital trips and presentations by local doctors as part of the Medical Club; and raised $1,300 for needy children in Bangladesh as leader of the Charity Club. Tenzin also created the school’s Peer2Peer Tutoring program to offer academic support to students who need it; participation in the program is now mandatory for high-achieving students.

Tibetan-born Tenzin believes that the educational opportunities he has received, first in India and now in the U.S., bring with them extra responsibilities and duties. As leader of the Student Leadership Conference on Development and Human Rights, he and students from other countries meet at the United Nations headquarters to discuss and propose solutions to international challenges in society. He was deeply affected by the poor dental care he saw during his family’s years in Tibet, Nepal and India and plans to pursue a career in dentistry after studying biology at Wesleyan University. “Whatever I do in my life will always lead back to the fact that I am a refugee….I still think about all those other people who were left behind,” he says.

Sherin Shibu
Columbia University

Sherin Shibu

Student Union President Sherin Shibu is leaving big shoes to fill at New York’s Townsend Harris High School. During her four years in student leadership, Sherin worked with administrators to modify the schedule for final exams to reduce students’ stress levels, created and ran a peer tutoring program, organized a student mentoring program for incoming freshmen, and pulled together events like Junior Prom, Movie Night and Spirit Week. She continued to hone her leadership skills through Junior State of America (JSA), winning Best Speaker gavels, holding cabinet positions, and attending JSA Summer School at Georgetown University. A teacher describes her as “a natural leader” and “a very strong role model for the student body.”

Two physics internships linked Sherin with prominent physicist Dr. Vinod Menon, who was co-chairing an international physics conference in New York. At his invitation, Sherin volunteered at the conference; the only high school student to attend, she spent a week attending lectures given by award-winning physicists. She is also a member of her school’s regional Science Olympiad team.

Sherin is an AP Scholar and National Merit Finalist. She was selected for her school’s Arista and Arista Community Service Honor Societies, Science Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta Honor Society, and Rho Kappa Honor Society. She participated in the New York Historical Society’s American History High School Scholars Program and competed in the New York Legion Oratorical Competition. Sherin will study political science and business at Columbia University and is considering a career as a doctor, politician or entrepreneur.

Benjamin Sorkin
Harvard University

Benjamin Sorkin

At New York’s highly competitive Staten Island Technical High School (SI Tech), Benjamin Sorkin has built a reputation as a leader and a scholar. He has spent four years in student government, including serving as executive vice president, and has worked with school administrators to solidify testing policies, strengthen the academic honesty code, expand the school’s sustainability and environmental programs, and implement transitional summer programs for incoming students. Participating in student leadership led Benjamin “to realize that service is something I want to do for the rest of my life.”

A dedicated performer who has played leading roles in both theatrical and choral productions at the school, Benjamin helped create the SI Tech Film Festival, planning, coordinating and raising funds for the annual event. The festival, which showcases student-made films, has become one of the highlights of the school’s growing arts program. Benjamin also spends time tutoring middle-school students to prepare them for New York City’s grueling Specialized High School Admissions Test.

Earlier this year Benjamin was one of two students from New York State to spend a week in Washington, D.C., experiencing our government in action as part of the United States Senate Youth Program. A QuestBridge National College Match finalist, member of the National Honor Society and AP Scholar with Honor, Benjamin will study government, political science and international relations at Harvard University and plans a career in public service.

Since its founding in 1989 by Lori and Michael Milken, the Milken Scholars Program has supported more than 400 Scholars from diverse backgrounds. Nearly one-third were born outside the United States and three-quarters have parents originating from over 60 countries. Nearly half were the first in their family to attend college.

Throughout their college careers, Milken Scholars are in regular communication with Milken Scholars staff, mentors and with one another.

Every summer, Scholars participate in a three-day Summit in Los Angeles, where Scholars staff and a range of distinguished speakers provide a forum for the participants to discuss issues crucial to their personal, academic and professional success. A Summit highlight for the New York Scholars will be their first encounter with fellow Scholars chosen from Washington, D.C. and Greater Los Angeles. Over the coming years, the Summit will provide opportunities for Scholars to form and renew friendships, reflect on their personal growth, and exchange ideas and aspirations.

Milken Scholars are selected in their senior year of high school through a rigorous nomination, application review and interview process.

For details about the Milken Scholars Program, visit

To schedule interviews, contact Ana Beatriz Cholo,; (310) 570-4773 (work); (312) 927-4845 (cell).

Ana Beatriz Cholo
Media Relations Manager
310-570-4773 (Office)
312-927-4845 (Cell)
Twitter: @AnaBeatriz_MFF