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Announcing the 4th Annual Discover Your Passion Scholarship Winners

The School Choice Group in collaboration with the Parents of Accelerated Learners, NYC (PALNYC), announced the fourth annual Michael Perelstein Memorial Scholarship Fund’s Discover Your Passion™ Competition winners.

This competition is targeted toward New York City students from 2nd through 12th grades who show exceptional promise and passion for an individual interest, including academic subjects, sports, music, the arts, community service, entrepreneurship, or technology. Formerly only available to students in grades 2-8, the program was extended through High School. This year, the Scholarship Fund was increased from $20,000 to $25,000 and supplemented by the Cartus Cares Global Citizenship Award in the amount of $500, making the grand total $25,500 in scholarship awards. The focus on pursuing passion and the story behind the awards are what make this scholarship unique. Michael Perelstein was a man who learned late in life the importance of passion and of doing what he loved. His untimely death at age 56, taught the ultimate lesson––the value of living your dreams––to his widow, Elizabeth Perelstein and their children, Sarah and Daniel Perelstein. The opportunity to foster this value led to the creation of this memorial scholarship award program.

Each entrant was required to submit a sample or demonstration of their endeavor, nomination letters, and a description of how the award monies would be used to further their unique passion.

“I know Michael would be proud to have provided opportunity for young people to pursue their personal passions and I am honored to be able to keep his memory alive by nurturing these children’s educational interests,” said Elizabeth Perelstein, the Chair and Founder of the School Choice Group.


Meet the 2016 Michael Perelstein Memorial Scholarship Fund Discover Your Passion scholars:

Grand Prize Elementary School – Jackson Furlong, grade 2 – P.S. 89Q

$5,000 for a program or programs to support profoundly gifted children.

Jackson is a second grader with a passion and curiosity for complex science. This award will enable him to participate in programs developed specifically to support profoundly gifted children.

In his own words:

“Isaac Newton and I have a lot in common. He didn’t have a lot of friends or like to eat dinner instead he studied things… I can’t learn what I want to…at school. We don’t have a science lab. We get science once a week….My science teacher was teaching about properties of matter, but she didn’t want to discuss plasma, or dark matter.”


Grand Prize Middle School – Tia Poquette, grade 8 – The Computer School

$5,000 for a trip to Denmark to meet designers, artists and engineer who have made careers “playing with LEGOS”, and to visit the LEGO factory.

Tia’s sustained interest has developed a 3 year old game into an intense passion as an 8th grader. She finds inspiration in the buildings of New York and designs and builds cities, buildings and other architectural structures with LEGOS, tears them down and builds them all over again. After she lost her father suddenly a year ago, immersing herself in the creativity she finds with LEGOS has given her an outlet to express her emotions.


Grand Prize High School – Neel Nagarajan – grade 12 – Trinity School

$5,000 to further develop his non-profit organization called Perfect Unison, bringing together classical music composers and performers which enable aspiring composers to have their works performed by trained musicians.

Neel had the good fortune to receive musical training starting at age four. Over the years he had opportunities to study voice, piano, composing in all kinds of organizations, and found himself drawn into a musical community where he has met many of his closest friends. Neel identified a void in the music world where many aspiring composers do not have opportunities to find musicians to perform their work and are stymied in their progress. He started Perfect Unison with his earnings from musical performances and believes it can be scaled to help more musicians by developing a website, identifying advertising and fundraising strategies, paying for studio quality recordings for composer/performer creations, and taking online courses in running non-profit organizations.

Neel hopes that through Perfect Unison, young people will have more interest in writing more classical music and to renew interest in classical music among youth.


Sydney Adams – Grade 7 – The Computer School

$3,000, towards purchase of art supplies and art classes and/or art camp.

Sydney has always been an artist at heart, drawing, doodling and sketching in her free time. Although she has artists in her immediate family, and has beautiful art in her home, she has never taken an art class outside school. Sydney has experimented with different materials, styles and art forms and these have taken her to study the cultures and countries that these originate in. At present her major interest is the Anime or Manga style of art from Japan.

Sydney would like to buy higher quality and more supplies, which would free her to draw more without fear of running out of supplies. And she would love to have the opportunity to study with mentors and be exposed to other artists. Her art has helped her express the emotions associated with the terminal illness and loss of her baby brother less than a year ago.


Madelynn and Gwendolyn Oh – Grade 7 – Hunters Point Community Middle School

$2,500 to attend NY Math Circle throughout the school year, and Summer Technology Camp –ID Tech.

Gwendolyn has a profound interest in anything from electronics to robotics, and Madelynn loves chemistry, using random things around the house to make things that can help people. These programs will provide the girls with opportunities to extend their study of math and science beyond what they are able to learn in school to more clearly identify and pursue their passions.


Chloe Parekh – Grade 2 – International School of Brooklyn

$2,000 for private painting lessons and art camp at Rhode Island School of Design. Chloe is a very sophisticated artist for her age, with a passion that compels her to draw from the moment she wakes up, during every free moment until she goes to bed. She looks forward to school holidays when she can draw all day.

A children’s book illustrator came to her class when Chloe was in first grade and she was very taken with the presentation. Chloe says that she would like to be an illustrator when she grows up. Her current pictures indeed look like children’s book illustrations already.


Sarah Sotomayer – Grade 12 – St. Ann’s School

$1,500 for equipment and/or instruments to further her ability to study, and compose music.

Sarah joined the Brooklyn Youth Chorus at age 9 as a way to sing more and learn to sing better. She also sang in her church choir. Sarah took advantage of every chance to study music, including composition that she got at St. Ann’s, which she attends on full scholarship. She has learned as much as she can from resources and equipment available to her. With electronic equipment she believes she can begin composing at home and be prepared for a composing major at college.


The School Choice Group, is the leading global education consulting firm, specializing in school placement for private, public, specialized and international schools, from preschool through college. With over 140 experienced consultants, including Special Educators in 77 locations globally, the SCG works to help find the right schools for children, anywhere in the world. An industry leader, The School Choice Group Founder and Chair, Elizabeth Perelstein, co-founded the British International School of New York. Its business division, School Choice International, also conducts research, provides survey data and policy analysis for corporations, schools and governments setting or re-evaluating education policy. School Choice International innovated the only web-based resource to compare education across the globe, Global Education Explorer. Its consumer division, School Search Solutions, developed the first school-child matching tool, LEAP that considers both subjective and objective criteria between the child and school.
Parents of Accelerated Learners, NYC [PALNYC] & The P.A.L. Workshops support NYC-based parents and their children by offering educational workshops, talent development-based resources and programs, mentorships and a discovery platform for web and app-based learning tools for kids. PALNYC connects experts with parents to support the cognitive, social and emotional needs of their children. PALNYC is passionate about closing the education gap in NYC by providing access to events at low or no cost to make sure that every parent who wants to pursue quality education for their child has that opportunity. PALNYC is a founding sponsor of the NYC Gifted and Talented Symposium, a one day event to support high potential youth. For more information or sponsorship see

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