Benedictine University standout and graduate Parth Bhansali will add yet another outstanding item to his resume after winning an online contest to attend this Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards, giving him the chance to interview and rub elbows with some of the industry’s top performers.
Bhansali was one of more than 300 people who entered the contest, which required entrants to explain in 140 characters or less on Twitter how they have made a difference in their communities. Winners were named a “Born this Way Foundation Correspondent,” an opportunity made possible through singer Lady Gaga’s nonprofit organization for empowering youth and improving communities and Viacommunity, the community service and socially responsible arm of media giant Viacom.
Bhansali, a native of Bartlett who earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Science this past May, tweeted about his enthusiasm for speaking up against religious intolerance and the need for others to be more informed about those who come from different backgrounds and religions.
“I talked about the interfaith work that I do and how it is really important to me,” said Bhansali, who is Hindu. “I didn’t think I was going to win. I just saw it as an opportunity to spread the word to a large audience about the importance of interfaith and understanding others of different faith backgrounds.”
As a winner of the contest, Bhansali will receive two roundtrip airline tickets to New York City; hotel accommodations for two for two nights; driver service to and from the hotel and the event; and two tickets to attend the VMAs.
At the event, he will hang out with other entertainment press eagerly awaiting an opportunity to speak with celebrities and music artists. Bhansali specifically wants to ask them how they are able to inspire others and serve their communities.
“At times it seems like the media only focuses on the scandals and who’s getting into trouble,” Bhansali said. “But there are so many celebrities out there who are making large donations and doing their part to help their communities, and I want to get to know that side and share it with the world.”
Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry are among the artists Bhansali would most like to meet.
“I’m a huge Justin Timberlake fan,” Bhansali said. “I have been listening to him since he was a kid and I’m excited about his special reunion performance with ’N Sync. He’s a solid artist and his ‘20/20 Experience’ is impressive and inspiring. Every single day he did a new song. I don’t care how good you are – that takes a lot of work and you have to be fantastic at what you do.”
At Benedictine University, Bhansali was active in several service-oriented clubs, including KIVA – a nonprofit organization aimed at eliminating poverty in other countries by promoting local fundraising activities – and the American Medical Student Association. He also led the University’s Hindu Student Association, and spoke to middle school students about the dangers of drug and alcohol use and their effects on the body. He is currently a blogger for the Interfaith Youth Core.
“Benedictine has been instrumental in helping me evolve into the person I’ve become,” Bhansali said. “I’ve been able to really open my mind and pursue a vast amount of opportunities for learning. The clubs, the personal attention, the support and the idea of living life in balance all have given me so much more than simply a college degree.”
Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois and Mesa, Arizona. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 55 undergraduate majors and 15 graduate and four doctoral programs. Benedictine University is ranked No. 1 among the country's fastest-growing campuses between 2002-2012 in The Chronicle of Higher Education's list of private nonprofit doctoral institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the fourth consecutive year in 2014. Benedictine University's Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain's Chicago Business as the sixth largest in the Chicago area in 2014.