Behruz recalls wondering at age 8 what symbol might best represent his interests. It would probably have been a stethoscope, for his love of medicine. But now it might be a quill for his interest in poetry, or maybe even a brain for his curiosity in neurology. In the prestigious Carl Sagan Science/Math Honors Program at Forest Hills High School, he has a cumulative GPA of 103.68 and a transcript jammed with honors and AP classes. “That average was achieved,” wrote one of his science teachers, even while juggling an intense research schedule.” That project, on how stomata react to increased carbon dioxide and soil acidification, won first place in Plant Physiology for Behruz and his colleague at the New York City Science and Engineering Fair.

About that quill symbol: He was one of 12 winning artists from 30 competing countries to #UnmuteIndia by raising money to bring creativity to education. Behruz and his 11 new friends all worked together with companies in India, including MojoRojo, and successfully raised 79,22,699 rupees ($99,852). His interest in education and policy soon branched out to writing speeches in a poetic way, lifting his poem “Democracy in COVID” to television on PIX11 news.

Behruz and his family came here 10 years ago in 2012, and life has not been easy. He wrote of being in the park with his younger sister and leaning “back onto the tree with his sister’s lunchbox that he had packed at 2 A.M.” He appreciated the comfort and peace the tree had given him, and he envisions “being that tree” who’s there for peers to lean on. “The same tree using science and poetry to communicate the scars that map out both our misery and our recovery, creatively.”

As to what comes next: “I would love to surround myself with people going through the same fears as me — someone who is a first-generation living in a single-parent household with big dreams. I believe Scholarship Plus is the best community for me.”