Six Indian Americans awarded Ellis Island Medals of Honor

Recognized for contributions made in their fields.

By The American Bazaar Staff

NEW YORK: Six Indian Americans, who were announced in March as recipients of the 2014 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, received their awards at a lavish ceremony held by the National Ethnic Coalition Organizations (NECO) in New York on May 10.

The Ellis Island Medal of Honor (courtesy of NECO)
The Ellis Island Medal of Honor (courtesy of NECO)

Narpat Bhandari, Samir Desai, Dr. Arun Pramanik, Dr. Ketki Sharadkumar Shah, Yash Paul Soi, and Abdul M. Suleman were all honored for their contributions to the US. The Ellis Island Medal of Honor is meant to honor immigrants who come to America and establish themselves as leaders of their respective communities and industries.

Present at the ceremony were luminaries such as boxer Evander Holyfield, and Congressmen Ed Royce (R-CA) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ).

Bhandari is an entrepreneur and philanthropist, based in Silicon Valley. He is currently the CEO and County Director of Global School, a firm that “is committed to providing each student an exemplary American educational experience with strong values, while focusing on Holistic Development, Creativity and Entrepreneurship.”

He is also a charter member and the co-founder of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE), which was started in 1992. He is also the founder and CEO of Vanguard Systems, where he was from 1993-2008, and the co-founder and former CEO of Aspen Semiconductor Inc., where he spent the years of 1985-1988.

Desai is the founder and CEO of Aditi, a Boston-based firm that “consults and advises in the areas of organizational development, strategy and financial structures for young emerging organizations as well as those who want to have a dynamic growing organization.” He has been with the company since its inception in 1997; before that, from 1985-1999, he was the founder, CEO, and Chairman of System Resources Corporation, an IT firm that contracted with the federal government.

Desai is a graduate of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, with a B.S. in mechanical engineering, and holds an M.S. in industrial engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Pramanik is a neonatologist and a professor of pediatrics at Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Shreveport. He is currently the international editor for the Journal of Perinatology, and was formerly the chief of neonatology and director of neonatology post-doctoral fellowships at LSU Health Sciences Center, also in Shreveport.

He earned his M.D. from Nagpur Medical College, and trained at the Christian Medical College in Vellore and New Delhi. He also completed an internship at the Nagpur Medical College, and did his fellowship at the University of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

Shah is currently the clinical director of an outpatient program in New York City that oversees some 3,000 patients and 40 professionals. She has over 25 years of experience in the medical field, accrued in both the US and India, and is also an active member of AAPI.

According to India-West, Soi is the co-founder of the Federation of Indian Associations, the largest non-profit organization servicing the Indian communities of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. He is also the vice-chair of the organization’s board of trustees. He holds an M.S. in management and industrial engineering from Columbia University.

Suleman is the President and CEO of Equinox Hotels, a hotel development and management firm. Suleman immigrated to the US in 1968 to attend Brigham Young University, where he earned a degree in chemical engineering and then proceeded into the hospitality sector. He managed several Hyatt properties in Minneapolis, Michigan, and California, before becoming a part of Equinox and helping it grow into one of the country’s leading hotel businesses.

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