89.1 WEMU

Washtenaw United: Ann Arbor Huron High Grad Headed To MIT After Winning ‘Varsity Letter’ Scholarship

Jul 15, 2019

(From L to R) UWWC's Susan Smith and Bhuvna Murthy
Credit Susan Smith / United Way of Washtenaw County

Bhuvna Murthy has performed more than 700 hours of community service through her high school career.  Service work is a passion that formed early in her life and has manifested in great works to the benefit of many.  That’s why the United Way of Washtenaw County awarded Bhuvna’s efforts with a “Varsity Letter” in Community Service.  WEMU’s David Fair met with Bhuvna and UWWC Director of Development Susan Smith to discuss the Varsity Letter program and the past, present, and future of an outstanding young woman. 


WEMU has partnered with the United Way of Washtenaw County to explore the people, organizations, and institutions creating opportunity and equity in our area.  And, as part of this ongoing series, you’ll also hear from the people benefiting and growing from the investments being made in the areas of our community where there are gaps in available services.  It is a community voice.  It is 'Washtenaw United.'

About the UWWC's Varsity Letter Program

The Varsity Letter in Community Service recognizes high school students for their outstanding volunteer work during the year by presenting them with a high school specific varsity letter in community service.  Students participating in the program complete 145 hours of volunteer work from May 1 to April 1.  All hours are verified by the Labor Participation Committee.  There is an awards program held at United Way of Washtenaw County followed by a dessert reception to recognize the students who participate in the program.  

The Varsity Letter Program has many benefits.  The program promotes not only community involvement, but also school involvement.  Students who are not in sports or music are given a chance to earn a varsity letter by doing community service outside of school and with school organizations.  For seniors participating in the program, there is a chance to win a scholarship.  Volunteer work also enhances college and scholarship applications, as well as résumés.  Students also get a chance to learn more about their community and its needs.

Bhuvna Murthy and WEMU's David Fair
Credit Susan Smith / United Way of Washtenaw County

About Bhuvna Murthy

Bhuvna’s leadership journey began with her elementary school days where she was flag post captain and helped her mom with organizing International Walk to School day.  This was the starting point.  Bhuvna’s team spirit helped her middle school orchestra team to raise funds for the 2015 Nepal earthquake relief.  Bhuvna, through Club Wolverine, has participated in Swim-a thon to raise funds for Flood relief in India in 2015.

Following her surgery for Scoliosis in 2015, Bhuvna became an active campaigner for the early detection
of Scoliosis and created a blog to help other girls who are diagnosed with the same disease.  She organized the Concert for a Cause at the Towsley Auditorium, Ann Arbor.  Her hard work helped her raise $5000 for orthopedic research.

Bhuvna continued her community service through out her high school career by volunteering with miRcore, a nonprofit organization democratizing medical research so that anyone can initiate medical research that matters to them.  The organization whose mission is science research and compassion.  Every year, the miRcore organization carefully selects a disease of focus and raise funds for a micro-grant for a university researcher in that field.  Bhuvna has worked very hard at the fundraisers and won the appreciation of the organization’s president, Dr. Inhan Lee.  Bhuvna’s passion for the organization has led her to become GIDAS (Genes In Diseases And Symptoms, an outreach high school club of miRcore.) Director of Expansion and currently to Student President of miRcore.  Bhuvna worked hard overseeing the mission of over 70 GIDAS clubs all over the country.  Recently, Bhuvna received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the corporation for National Community Service with special service commitment to education through miRcore.

Bhuvna through her passion for science and research, has also won awards at the regional and state science fairs.  Especially her recent Project- Cost Effective Bio Degradable Sanitary Napkins is a novel idea that she has come up to solve the sanitary issues of women in rural parts of India.  This is just one example of how a high school student can apply science to solve world problems.  The project won her a USPTO Award, American Statistical Association Award, and Materials Science Award.  She was selected for the grand round of the ISEF competition.  Bhuvna continued this innovation spirit into the summer, where she worked on a summer research program at the Stony Brook University, spending time at the medical and dental school.  Bhuvna has also been volunteering for the Ann Arbor Alzheimer’s Association throughout her high school years where she helped out with organizing walks to end Alzheimer’s, and she also created an advocacy campaign for Ann Arbor Alzheimer’s Association, also to End Alzheimer Team to help fundraise for the cause.  This won her the 2016 Esteemed Volunteer Award.

Bhuvna loves to coach and event lead for the Science Olympiad. Bhuvna also volunteered with the Youth Summer program for Avalon Housing Inc., Ann Arbor, MI.  People living there are chronically homeless and kids come from difficult living conditions.  Bhuvna loved tutoring math and swimming with those camp kids and won the love for all the kids. 

Bhuvna’s love for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) has made her a volunteer through Women in Science and Engineering Club, showing elementary school kids science experiments and get them interested in science.

She has excelled in academics earning praise from several of her school teachers, counselors, and the principal.  Her principal recently awarded her with the Risk Taker Award.  Bhuvna also holds multiple leadership positions in her school clubs also.  Bhuvna has contributed nearly 350 volunteer hours for advocating genomics and personal medicine.  Recently, she volunteered to run a food concession at the Towsley Auditorium for the Ann Arbor Stamp Show to raise awareness and fund raise for pancreatic cancer.  She won the appreciation of the Ann Arbor Stamp Show Board.  She was invited to speak about the pancreatic cancer research at the Kiwanis’ Club Ann Arbor.

In total, Bhuvna’s has earned her Varsity Letter in Community Service by volunteering nearly 700 plus hours.  Beaumont Hospital Care Transport and University of Michigan Neurosurgery lab research volunteering are her most recent additions to already a very busy, productive community service.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu