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Rotary Club honors two local college students

By Staff | Jul 24, 2015

The Rotary Club of Shepherdstown has presented Paul Harris Awards to two local college students, Varun K. Menon and Syed R. Akhtar.

Both are 2012 graduates of Martinsburg High School. Menon is currently a senior at the University of Pennsylvania. Akhtar is a senior at West Virginia University.

The presentation was made at the Club’s regular July 14 breakfast meeting at the Bavarian Inn.

The Paul Harris Award is named for the individual who founded Rotary International in 1905, Paul Percy Harris (1868-1947).

It has been given to Menon and Akhtar in recognition of donations they have brought to Rotary International’s End Polio campaign, which has long been a major Rotary priority.

The donations have come from a Martinsburg-based nonprofit charitable foundation the two young men established last year to promote children’s health around the world, with a special focus on combating childhood epidemic diseases.

The foundation, the Arthur Guyton Foundation, is named in honor of the late Arthur Guyton (1919-2003), who overcame polio to become a leading medical researcher, educator and author. So far, the foundation has raised about $5,000 and donated $2,000 of that amount to the Rotary Polio campaign.

Currently, the foundation is expanding its portfolio to include a new, locally focused Community Health Initiative that will concentrate on promoting children’s health in the Eastern Panhandle. This initiative will be named in honor of the late Dr. Francisco Sabado of Martinsburg (1943-2015), who was a member of the foundation’s board and a mentor and friend to Menon and Akhtar. The initiative will be launched on August 8 at the First Annual Francisco Sabado Community Benefit Reception. The event will be held at The HUB Business Center in downtown Martinsburg from 6:00-9:00 p.m. All proceeds will support the initiative’s programs.

To learn more about the foundation and its new initiative, go to its website at www.guytonfoundation.org.

Menon was the valedictorian his Martinsburg High School class. At Penn, he is a Dean’s List student majoring in Diplomatic History. He has been very active in politics on campus and is a co-founder and former president of the university’s Government and Politics Association, the largest civic and political organization on campus. He plans to attend medical school after graduation.

Akhtar is pursuing a degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and a minor in Computer Science at WVU. He has also been very active in politics. He currently serves as State Chairman of the West Virginia Federation of College Republicans, and he is the president and founder of WVU’s Chapter of the Government and Politics Association.