Scholarship to honor Dr. Manjula Shah

Drs. Manjula and Ravindra ShahThe children of two prominent local physicians who perished in a plane crash Sept. 27, 2003, have established an endowed scholarship at SUNY Oswego in memory of their mother, Dr. Manjula R. Shah.

Neelesh Shah and Dr. Monica Shah have donated $25,000 from the family’s Tarandi Foundation to the Oswego College Foundation to establish the Dr. Manjula Ravindra Shah Memorial Scholarship. It will be awarded to students majoring in communication studies at the college.

Dr. Manjula R. Shah and her husband, Dr. Ravindra F. Shah, died in a plane crash outside of Boston two years ago. Dr. Manjula Shah was an anesthesiologist who practiced in Fulton and Oswego. Dr. Ravindra Shah was a urologist and associate professor of surgery at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. He was also a retired brigadier general in the United States Air National Guard.

Neelesh Shah said his mother, while already an anesthesiologist, began taking classes in Oswego’s communication studies department “to round out her language skills and become a better public speaker.”

“She thought communication was key to success in this country as an immigrant,” Monica Shah added. “We thought, she loved this area so much it is an area we should endow.”

One of the first classes Dr. Manjula Shah took was with Marcia Moore, professor emerita. “She always had a thirst for learning and she was very willing to explore all sorts of different avenues,” Moore said.

She recalled that Manjula Shah wrote a research paper on Sanskrit for her class, which led Moore to a great appreciation for Indian culture. The two women became friends. “She was generous, caring and helpful,” Moore said. “I feel very enriched because of having known her.”

When seeking to honor their mother’s memory, SUNY Oswego was a logical choice, the donors said. “Mom and Dad were always big supporters of the community: They supported the hospital, gave scholarships for the high school and were active members in the community. Mom was active in the Rotary Club in Oswego,” Neelesh Shah said. “And they had a great attachment to Oswego State.”

Both siblings also have an attachment to the college, having spent time on campus and in Penfield Library during their own schooling. “When you’re from Oswego, Oswego State is part of you,” Neelesh Shah said.

The elder Shahs began the Tarandi Foundation over two decades ago to focus on education and scholarships and other community support in Central New York, across the United States and in India. They named the foundation for their mothers, Tara and Anandi.

“Their overriding passion was education,” Monica Shah said. “They felt that the reason they were able to succeed in this country was education. It opened so many doors for them, they felt they wanted to give that to as many people as possible.”

As one of the first Indian families in the Oswego area, arriving in 1972, the Shahs helped foreign students financially and in becoming settled in the community.

Monica Shah described their mother as “a lady of incredible grace, culture and compassion. She was a very elegant woman and believed in helping others. Dad was a real proponent of education and pushed for us to study hard and succeed and do well in school,” she recalled. “We hope to carry on their legacy by encouraging other people to do that.”

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(Posted: Sep 21, 2005)