Krish Kamdar knows how tough it can be for an immigrant to adapt to life in the United States: He was one himself.
He arrived from India in 2004 at the start of first grade, and struggled to understand English and make friends.
He has turned it around and now uses the experience to help others in the same predicament. Kamdar, 17, became a volunteer at a center in New Hyde Park that helps elderly Indian immigrants adjust to life in the United States. Kamdar helps them obtain Social Security cards and fill out immigration papers. He also tutors Indian children who are very much in the same situation he once found himself in.
“When I first came here I was clueless and sometimes I needed help,” Kamdar recalled. “I wanted to give back, and they needed me to help” at the Jain Community Center, which he visited often as a child. The center serves as a temple for people of the Jain faith, and also hosts festivals along with the community outreach Kamdar has helped with.
Kamdar, of Bay Shore, is near the top of his class — No. 3 out of 402 students. He has a perfect 4.0 GPA and is headed in the fall to Baruch College in Manhattan as a Dean’s Scholar with full tuition paid. He plans to major in actuarial science.
Besides English, Kamdar speaks four languages: Hindi, Gujurati, Punjabi and Spanish. He participated in Bay Shore’s dual-language program where students split their classroom time in grammar school between instruction in English and Spanish. He gets to practice with the Latino customers at the cellphone store where he works.
Kamdar is president of his school’s Future Business Leaders of America club and co-captain of the Mathletes team. He has not only piled on AP and IB courses at Bay Shore, but goes to Suffolk County Community College at night to take more college-level courses.
Kamdar’s teachers and guidance counselors note his humility despite his academic success, and his eagerness to help others. “I marvel at Krish mostly because he is a reserved, modest, respectful young man who is more than aware of his capacity to make his mark academically,” wrote his guidance counselor, Viki Zimolka.
He has overcome a lot to achieve what he has. His parents emigrated from India in 2000, four years before he did. For a time his grandparents raised him. His mother returned to India after six months here, and then brought Kamdar over in 2004.
At Baruch, Kamdar said he is most looking forward to the diversity of the student population and the city itself, with all its varied attractions.
WHAT MAKES YOU EXTRAORDINARY: “I believe I’m quite open to helping people and even fitting myself in other people’s shoes, which seems difficult for many people to do when someone comes to you for a question or a problem. I try to be a friend, and at the same time an adviser.”