In the News

Riyah Patel receives the Rising Stars Award for Changemaker of the Year

   New American Scholars


We are thrilled to announce that Riyah Patel, our founder, and leader has been honored with the prestigious Rising Stars Award for Changemaker of the Year by New Hampshire Public Radio (nhpr), Eversource, and Stay-Work-Play New Hampshire. This coveted accolade recognizes young individuals who have made an outstanding impact in their communities.

The Changemaker Journey of Riyah Patel

Growing up in Concord, New Hampshire, Riyah displayed an uncommon wisdom and empathy beyond her years. At age 15, her drive to make a difference led her to create New American Scholars—a non-profit dedicated to empowering refugee students in New Hampshire through academic assistance, social support, and peer mentorship.

Balancing her own academic commitments at Phillips Exeter Academy, Riyah has tirelessly steered New American Scholars toward growth and success. Within just 1½ years, the organization has reached over 140 refugee students across the state, employing the help of 26 volunteer tutors.

Addressing the Educational Crisis During the Pandemic

Understanding the disproportionate challenges faced by refugee students during the Covid-19 pandemic, Riyah initiated partnerships with refugee resettlement organizations in Concord and dedicated her summer to tutoring students. This set the foundation for what would later become New American Scholars.

A Visionary Approach to Education

Riyah’s innovative solutions extend to collaborations with other organizations like Overcomers Refugee Services, Project STORY, ORIS, Safari Youth Club, Southern New Hampshire University, and AMIKO Youth Program. These partnerships have facilitated in-community educational sessions, thereby overcoming logistical challenges for refugee families.

Her Ed-Tech project has also revolutionized personalized instruction through adaptive learning technology, enabling real-time performance analysis and customized learning plans. Riyah's holistic approach extends to mentoring programs and community integration, emphasizing the importance of both academic achievement and emotional well-being.

An Inspiration to All

“Riyah is not just a visionary but an executor. Her leadership and vision have inspired not just her peers but also local schools, community, and non-profit leaders. She is a beacon of what young people can achieve when armed with compassion, insight, and resolve,” said Ken Norton, (retired) Executive Director of NAMI New Hampshire.

About New American Scholars

New American Scholars is committed to advancing the academic achievement of refugee students in New Hampshire by providing targeted support designed to close learning gaps and elevate students to grade-level proficiency. We aim to mitigate the educational disparity between refugee students and their American-born peers, empowering them to take agency of their learning and their lives.