More than 100 Ellis Island Medals of Honor winners will be feted May 12 at a ceremony at Ellis Island, New York.
The program, founded by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, honors contributions made to America by immigrants.
“Designed to pay homage to the immigrant experience, as well as for individual achievement, medals are awarded to U.S. citizens from various ethnic backgrounds,” said NECO board chairman Nasser J. Kazeminy.
“We honor them because they create a better world for all of us in the future by the work they do today.”
This year’s medalists include Indian Americans Peter Bheddah, Ravishankar “Ravi” Bhooplapur, Dr. Sanjiv Chopra, Dr. Leena N. Doshi, Dr. Surendra V. Jain, Hasu P. Shah, Dr. John Thomas and Rajendra Singh.
A resident of Port Washington, N.Y., Bheddah came to the U.S. in 1960 from Kutch, Gujarat. In 1972, he founded IDC Marketing Corp., one of the first Indian American-owned firms in the wholesale electronics sector.
In 1994, he began assisting the less fortunate through the India Association of Long Island and the Interfaith Nutrition Network, which operates 19 soup kitchens and provides over 400,000 meals annually.
A lifelong Democrat, Bheddah has been invited twice to the White House. He is also past president and a director of the Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation, which has provided over $5 million of cancer detection equipment to Indian hospitals
Bheddah is a past president of Gujarati Samaj of New York, an advisory board member of Heart and Hand for the Handicapped, a director of Bidada Hospital in Kutch, and a director of KOJAIN, a community organization of Kutchis in the U.S.
A resident of Syosset, N.Y., Bhooplapur is president of the Westbury, N.Y.-based Xavier University School of Medicine, Aruba. After immigrating to New York in 1992, he worked in the financial industry.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Bhooplapur helped provide aid and counseling to victims’ families through the Rotary Foundation, an organization where he was a district governor of a New York chapter.
He helped outfit a house-call unit at North Shore LIJ Hospital in Forest Hills, N.Y.; and was active in the campaign to raise more than $500,000 to fund the Center for India Studies at SUNY University.
Countries where Bhooplapur has devoted his humanitarian efforts include India, Haiti, Chile, Ghana, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. He is founder and chairman of “Gift of Life India” and was the recipient of the “Meritorious Service Award,” Rotary’s highest service award.
Chopra is professor of medicine and faculty dean for continuing medical education at the Harvard Medical School and senior consultant in hepatology at the Beth Israel Deaconess medical center in Boston, Mass.
He has authored five books and more than 120 publications. His most recent book, “Dr. Chopra Says: Medical Facts and Myths Everyone Should know,” co-authored with Dr. Alan Lotvin, was published in December 2010. A new book, “The Ten Tenets of Leadership: Stories that Will Inform and Inspire You to Lead in Exemplary Ways,” will be published this spring.
Chopra is editor-in-chief of the hepatology section of UpToDate, winner of the George W. Thorn and Robert S. Stone awards, and was elected a master of the American College of Physicians.
Mumbai-born Doshi has a medical degree from Bombay University. After completing her residency in radiology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, N.Y., she started a radiology practice in 1985.
Today, her family runs 16 radiology centers in the New York metro area and 16 in Florida, making Hicksville, N.Y.-based Doshi Diagnostic Imaging Services one of the largest private radiology practices in the U.S.
Her husband, Sudan-born Nitin Doshi, at first ran a successful dental practice, but later sold it to join the radiology firm. The family’s businesses include a real estate equity firm and an Indian hedge fund.
The Doshi Family Foundation’s partnerships include Pratham, the American India Foundation, Share and Care and Veerayatan. The foundation has established two colleges in Kutch, one for computer science and the other for business administration, with classes having begun in June 2008.
Jain is founding partner and chief medical officer of Buena Park, Calif.-based AppleCare Medical Management, LLC, a medical management services organization that manages AppleCare Medical Group and AppleCare Hospitalists Group
AppleCare has grown from 20 employees in 2003 to over 140 currently. There are more than 400 primary care physicians and 450 specialists in the healthcare network.
A graduate of the University of Bombay, Jain completed his residency in internal medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. He held fellowships in hepatology and gastroenterology, respectively, from the University of Miami, Florida, and Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Calif.
Jain has served as chairman of the department of medicine at St. Francis Medical Center, a board member of Downey Regional Medical Center Memorial Trust Foundation and a board member of the YMCA in Los Angeles County.
His charitable involvement includes the American India Foundation, South Asian Helpline And Referral Agency and the Jain Center of Southern California.
Shah is founder and board chairman of Philadelphia, Pa.-based Hersha Hospitality Trust, a developer of hotels and other real state. Since founding the firm with one hotel in Harrisburg, Pa., in 1984, he has developed, owned, or managed over 50 hotels in the eastern U.S. and started businesses in general construction, purchasing and hotel management.
He currently serves on the board of directors for Graystone Tower Bank, which he co-founded in 2005.
Shah has been an active Rotarian for nearly 25 years and is a trustee of the Vraj Hindu Temple and the India Heritage Research Foundation. He has a B.S. in chemical engineering from Tennessee Technical University and a master’s in administration from Pennsylvania State University.
The founder of Operation H.O.P.E. (Healing Outreach to People Everywhere), the Kerala-born Thomas, a Lubbock, Texas-based general surgeon and specialist in laparoscopic surgery, has volunteered for nearly 15 years on trips to India, Bolivia, Kenya, Haiti, Honduras, Iraq and other countries. He performs 20-25 surgeries on each visit.
At the age of 14, while in India, he became very ill and death was imminent. It was during this “fight for his life” that he received the calling to become a doctor, he said. “I am led by God where to go and who to help next,” Thomas told India-West, adding that he “never imagined” that he would be recognized “with this prestigious award.”
Since the earthquake in Haiti, Thomas has made nine visits to that country to help teach new trades to widows and feed more than 1,500 children. He has funded 37 salaries for teachers, created a micro loan business and founded a fish-processing center.
Thomas has mentored three National Football League players and for his service in Iraq was awarded a service medal by Joint Chief of Staff of Iraqi Forces General Babakir Zibari. He was also given a Red Cross Medical Champion of the Year award and received a U.S. flag that was flown on Capitol Hill Sept. 11, 2006.
Singh is chairman, CEO and principal owner of Miami, Fla.-based Telecom Ventures. He and his wife, Neera Singh, helped found Appex, Inc., a billing services firm (sold to EDS in 1990); and various cellular companies in India, Brazil, Mexico, Columbia and Venezuela.
Singh has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Southern Methodist University, an M.S. from the University of Maine and a B. Tech. from IIT-Kanpur. He is currently on the board of trustees of John Hopkins University School of Medicine, the board of overseers of the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the board of directors of Pan IIT USA.