A knack for history
ISLIP TOWN—Parker Ahmad, a 2019 graduate of Bay Shore High School, recently received the fifth annual Honorable Peter Fox Cohalan Scholarship in American History at the home of the award’s namesake in Sayville. The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation made the scholarship possible.
Robert David Lion Gardiner, the 16th Lord of Gardiner’s Island, located between the two eastern peninsulas off the coast of Long Island, started the foundation in 1987. The Gardiner family has owned the island since 1639 when a Royal Grant obtained it from King Charles I of England. The purpose of the foundation is to promote interest in New York State history through education and by supporting various educational institutions, local historical societies, museums and historic sites.
Kathryn Curran, executive director of the foundation, said this was the fifth scholarship awarded to an Islip Town student in the amount of $10,000 a year for four years. She noted that Ahmad was chosen by the board of trustees among a group that included three applicants from each of the high schools in Islip Town. “Next year we will open [the scholarship] up to high schools in both Nassau and Suffolk counties,” she added.
Applicants must be a graduating senior who plans to attend an accredited four-year college, university or academic institution to pursue an undergraduate degree studying American history or American government. Ahmad plans to double major in both aforementioned studies at Marist College in the fall.
Along with an application and resume, candidates must submit an essay. Cohalan remarked to the award recipient, “I was very impressed with your resume.”
The former Islip Town supervisor, Suffolk County executive, NYS Supreme Court Justice and the current Suffolk County historian, noted that Ahmad’s commitment to history was extraordinary.
Ahmad’s essay focused on aviation history on Long Island – from Charles Lindbergh’s famous first flight from Roosevelt Field to the work of Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp., later to become the Grumman Aerospace Corporation.
The young historian said she became interested in history in the seventh grade, after a trip to Ellis Island and after reading about historic figures.
“We’re part of the Mowbray family [of Bay Shore],” said her mother, Lisa Ahmad, in reference to the early settlers of Bay Shore. “That’s also what helped to spur her interest.”
“[History] just clicked with me,”Ahmad said, adding that one day she’d like to work as a curator.
Although the scholarship is guaranteed, Curran noted that there are some stipulations. First, recipients must maintain a 3.25 average each year and they must volunteer in some capacity at a local historical society or similar institution.
Ahmad currently volunteers at the Bay Shore Historical Society and said she would like to continue doing so as much as possible.
Barry Dloughy, president of the Bay Shore Historical Society, said he was delighted to hear about Ahmad’s scholarship. “It is so deserving,” he remarked. Dloughy said that Ahmad has worked hard during the past three summers and in her spare time during the school year to archive pertinent historical information. “Once she takes on a project, you don’t have to tell her what to do.
“She has done a lot for the society,” he added. “She has been wonderful.”
For more information on the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, go to the website www.rdlgfoundation.org.
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