New American Scholars


An Unforgettable Experience: My Time at the Prudential Emerging Visionaries Workshop

Written by: Riyah Patel, Founder & President, New American Scholars

This past April, I had the extraordinary opportunity to be a part of the 2023 Prudential Emerging Visionaries program—a prestigious national initiative celebrating young changemakers like myself, who are committed to solving financial and societal challenges in their communities and beyond. Not only was I the sole participant selected from the New England area, but I was also awarded a $5,000 prize and an all-expenses-paid trip to Prudential's headquarters in Newark, New Jersey

The Genesis

For those who may not know, Prudential Emerging Visionaries is an evolution of the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, which has honored over 150,000 young people in its 26-year history. This program is designed to empower youth with the coaching, mentorship, and skills development needed to take their initiatives to the next level. It was a breathtaking experience that offered much more than I ever expected, both in terms of knowledge gained and connections made.

What I Learned

The three-day workshop was nothing short of transformative. It was a highly experiential and emotive training that aimed to redefine the way we—as leaders—think, feel, act, and communicate.

Navigating Through Systems

A standout session for me was diving deep into the workings of governments and societal platforms. This learning was particularly beneficial for my ongoing efforts at New American Scholars to bridge the educational gap for refugee students in New Hampshire.

Social Entrepreneurship and Policy Changes

Understanding the intricacies of social entrepreneurship and policy changes was enlightening. These discussions directly correlated with my organization's mission and added a new dimension to the way I perceive the impact of New American Scholars.

Self-Awareness and Collaboration

Equally rewarding were the modules on self-awareness, collaboration, and authenticity. Being a leader, especially at a young age, can often be a lonely journey filled with trials. The sessions taught me how to maintain my authentic self while working collaboratively to instigate systemic changes.

Embracing the Journey

From uncovering the "why" behind my mission to learning how to pace the future and translate visions into actionable plans, the workshop was a holistic training ground. It reminded me that change is not a sprint but a marathon that requires preparation, resources, and feedback mechanisms to stay on track.

Sustainable Pathways as a Changemaker

The final day left me pondering about how to navigate politics, how to harness the power of positive expectations, and how to identify reliable and timely mechanisms for feedback and decision-making.

The Community of Visionaries

One of the most enriching aspects of this journey was the sense of community among us Emerging Visionaries. Being around such highly acclaimed and respected leaders and entrepreneurs in the business world was not just inspiring but humbling. The executives at Prudential were incredibly supportive, open, and invested in helping me make New American Scholars a success story. I can't thank them enough for their invaluable guidance and encouragement.

Closing Thoughts

To say this experience was incredible would be an understatement. It was a profound learning experience that has greatly contributed to my personal and professional growth. As I continue to lead New American Scholars toward our goal of transforming the educational landscape, the insights and skills I gained from the Prudential Emerging Visionaries program will undoubtedly serve as a solid foundation. I came back not just with a certificate and a financial award, but with a treasure trove of wisdom and a renewed sense of purpose.

Here's to more learning, more giving, and above all, more changing.

Riyah Patel is the Founder and President of New American Scholars, a nonprofit aimed at bridging the educational gap for refugee students in New Hampshire. She believes in the power of education and is committed to creating a more equitable educational landscape.