Roslyn senior Alida Pahlevan awarded Heisman scholarship

Rose Weldon
Student-athlete Alida Pahlevan of East Hills has been named a recipient of the Heisman High School scholarship. (Photo courtesy of the Roslyn School District)

In any other year, Roslyn High School senior Alida Pahlevan would be finishing a fall volleyball season and preparing for a few months of winter and spring track.

The East Hills resident may not have been able to play her sports since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped her from being awarded a prestigious athletic honor.

Pahlevan has been named a recipient of the Heisman High School Scholarship, awarded annually by Acceptance Insurance, Scholarship America, and the Heisman Trophy Trust to honor senior student-athletes across the country who make differences on the field, in their schools, and in their communities.

A three-season varsity athlete for her entire Roslyn High career, Pahlevan applied for the scholarship in late September and learned of her award in early November.

“I was ecstatic,” Pahlevan said in a phone interview. “I just felt very happy to have been honored.”

An athlete for years, Pahlevan is scheduled to captain the women’s volleyball team when their season begins in March.

Set for January are her indoor track events, which include the 55-meter hurdles, the 200-meter dash, and the 200-meter relay, which she anchors. In the spring season’s outdoor track, she will compete in the 400-meter dash, the 400-meter hurdles, the 100-meter dash, and the 200-meter dash.

Off the field and in school, Pahlevan was named a Commended Student in the National Merit Scholarship Program. She also serves as president of Roslyn High’s student body, captain of their Science Olympiad team, president of the Medical Explorers club, holds a leadership position in Diversity Club, and serves on the executive board of the Roslyn Marching Band.

Outside of the classroom, Pahlevan, who says science is her “passion” and seeks to work in medicine, is an active participant in science research programs, having spent summers working with researchers from institutions like the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where she worked in 2019.

“Over the past two years, I’ve grown a deep passion for autism spectrum disorder because my research at Mount Sinai involved researching autism, and it was looking into a specific gene called ADNP known whose mechanisms in autism spectrum disorder patients were unknown,” Pahlevan said. “I wanted to explore how it works and its effects on human stem cells.”

For her research into ADNP, Pahlevan placed in the Microbiology/Genetics category at the  NSPC Health Science Competition in July.

This past summer, she had been accepted to study at Stony Brook University’s Simon Summer Research Program, which was canceled due to the pandemic. Instead, she was able to pursue her research through a virtual program.

“I researched with a graduate student from Carnegie Mellon University and I designed a machine learning software that detects autism in MRI images,” Pahlevan said.

Her passion for medicine also shines through in MentalHealthIO, an organization meant to educate on mental illnesses which she co-founded and currently serves as co-president. Pahlevan leads a team hailing from all across the country with the same goals, including bringing underrepresented mental illnesses and prominent mental health disorders to the forefront, breaking the stigma of discussing them, and informing teenagers of the facts surrounding them.

When she isn’t researching or working to educate, Pahlevan is an avid reader with a preference for physical books.

“Whenever I have free time on the track field or in between competitions, just whenever I can grab a spare moment, especially on buses to tournaments or anything, I read,” Pahlevan said.

Additionally, Pahlevan is a classical pianist with a love of Beethoven. She also helps her younger sister in learning piano and assists her and their brother in preparing for their own sports.

“I just love coaching them and learning with them as well,” Pahlevan said.

Now, Pahlevan is preparing to tackle a school year’s worth of sports in six months.

As per the instructions of the Nassau County Council of Superintendents, the winter season, during which she runs indoor track, will begin Monday, Jan. 4, and finish until Friday, Feb. 26.

Less than a week later, the fall season, where she captains the women’s volleyball team, will start, running from Monday, Mar. 1 to Wednesday, Apr. 21.

Finally, the spring season, where she will compete in outdoor track and field events, is scheduled to last from Thursday, Apr. 22 to Monday, June 14.

The busy schedule that will result is not a burden, she says.

“There are moments where everything seems overwhelming, but I find that I’m able to balance all these passions because I actually enjoy what I do,” Pahlevan said. “So when I enjoy the activity that I pursue, it’s just something I look forward to doing. It’s not just another thing in my schedule.”

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