It is only fitting that a female high school student from one of the most prestigious institutions in New York City is the first recipient of the Celia Stein Kiwanis Club of Riverdale scholarship in honor of the chapter’s first female Kiwanian.
Shiya Lin, a senior at the Bronx High School of Science, received the honor Friday during the Kiwanis Club’s gala celebrating its 70th anniversary at VIP Country Club in New Rochelle. Stein and her husband David were the co-founders of The Riverdale Press, which is now 73. David also founded the Riverdale Kiwanis club in 1953.
Prior to Friday’s gala, which also served as a fundraiser for the Kiwanis scholarship fund, the amount of the award going to Lin was $1,000, according to Riverdale Kiwanis president Nanda Chavez. There were three other scholarships awarded to Bronx Science students Friday in memory of the late Kiwanians Gerald Shaw, Richard Altman and Brian Hickey.
Lin served as president of the Key Club at Bronx Science and led numerous initiatives the past school year accounting for 22,000 in service hours for communities in Riverdale, other city boroughs, Yonkers and internationally.
“I am honored to be in your presence, Shiya after I read all about you have done with the Key Club at Bronx High School of Science,” said Richard Stein, former Press publisher, son of Celia Stein and scholarship presenter. “I will read the first paragraph of your bio here. It says you helped raise nearly $15,000 for various charities in a single year. For the first 46 years since the Bronx Science Key Club has been established, no president has ever achieved those results.”
Lin’s accomplishments as a Key Club member are vast. After serving as secretary in her junior year, she was elevated to president as a senior. Her most successful initiative was the Five Borough Amusement Park Fundraiser she held in collaboration with Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech, Bayside and Tottenville high schools.
She worked with treasurers of each Key Club from those high schools to ensure tickets for all 600 attendees were discounted and spent the day checking in people at the front gates of Coney Island.
As for the scholarship, Lin thinks it’s “cool” to be the first recipient.
“I did see an article in the New York Times about Celia Stein,” Lin said. “She seems like a very dedicated person. I am honored to be able to live up to her name. To be the first person to receive the scholarship is really cool.”
Lin lives in East Harlem with her grandparents, but her parents live on Long Island. That’s one of the reasons she chose to go Stony Brook this fall.
She plans to go pre-med and become a pediatric neurosurgeon. Her favorite class is AP biology.
“Since first grade, I have wanted to be a pediatrician,” she said. “But more recently, I want to be a pediatric neurosurgeon. That might change.”
She considers Timothy Huth, the advisor for the school’s No. 1 nationally ranked debate team, to be her mentor. Even though she doesn’t consider herself a good debater, she is impressed by what the freshman global history teacher has taught her about life.
Before awarding the scholarship to Lin, who will be attending SUNY Stony Brook University in the fall studying pre-med, Stein gave a synopsis of his mother’s community work.
“A little about Celia Stein, who has not been with us for 20 years,” her son said during the scholarship ceremony. “I doubt many of you have had the opportunity to meet her. She and my dad founded The Riverdale Press, a newspaper that knitted the entire community together.”
He added that women were not admitted to the Kiwanis at the time of the founding of the Riverdale chapter. “Of course, that chafed at my mom all those years, until 1987 when she was invited to become the very first woman Kiwanian,” Stein said.
He described how he heard a lot about what the Kiwanis did for others and for their own.
“Cele Stein was certainly a part of that,” he said. “I think it would be especially pleasing to her to have a scholarship in her name because she had an education in Riverdale.” She also crusaded for the Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy, which was named after her husband.
“I think Key Club has taught me so much about being a leader,” Lin said. “I am proud of what we have done with the Key Club. Everyone sitting at this (Key Club) table, they are like my children. Key Club has taught me a lot about the person I want to be in the future.”