Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect some inaccuracies that were brought to our attention by two readers after it was published this week. Based on an interview with the story's source in January, the original article stated that the Meliorate Foundation had status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Ahson Hamid said Monday he gave an incorrect statement. At the time, he was still in the process of registering his foundation for non-profit status. Hamid shut down the organization in April. Patch was not aware of the change when the article ran this week.
On Sunday, graduates from Plymouth-Canton Educational Park walked the stage at Eastern Michigan University’s Convocation Center.
Among them was Ahson Hamid, a recent Plymouth High School graduate from Canton who, at just 18 years old, has pledged to devote his life to helping others.
Hamid, who will attend the University of Michigan in the fall, started an organization, the Meliorate Foundation, with a focus on making life convenient for others.
Inspired by his father’s mantra, “If you don’t like what’s on the news, go make your own,” Hamid said he didn’t want to become a self-serving professional.
“A lot of the professionals I've met, especially scientists, what happens is they do academic work their whole lives,” he said. “They’re trying to make money. A lot of them really regret not doing work that will benefit everybody.”
Hamid said that instead of a material gift for his 18th birthday in 2011, he told his parents he wanted to start a nonprofit organization.
He started the Meliorate Foundation, coming from the word ameliorate, to improve or make better, Hamid said.
The organization was closed in April, however, after Hamid admitted he misrepresented the Meliorate Foundation as a 501(c)(3)-certified nonprofit organization. In reality, he said, he was still in the process of registering the foundation as a nonprofit.
"We were really doing great work until I made some bad decisions in an effort to grow Meliorate at a faster rate," Hamid later said in an email.
When the organization started, Hamid said he and a group of volunteers — mostly Plymouth-Canton students and friends — helped transport antibiotics and supplies to Africa during a drought.
When he received a photo of a Somalian child whose outward appearance was noticeably healthier after his group’s help, Hamid said it showed how much of a difference he was able to make in a relatively remote area.
“That we made such a significant change in someone’s life give you intrinsic pleasure,” he said.
Locally, the group also was able to collect nearly 100 pints of blood for an American Red Cross blood drive benefiting several Metro Detroit hospitals.
“That made a huge impact,” he said. “(The Red Cross doesn’t) have blood coming in such fast amounts. That definitely helped them out and obviously made us very happy.”
The group also tutored and mentored local students, Hamid said.
One of the first students in the tutoring program showed apathy toward learning, Hamid said. After 2-3 weeks of work without much progress, Hamid said he tried a different approach.
“I took him to the Summit for an entire day,” he said. “We went there at 11 a.m. and returned at 7 p.m. and basically did everything in the building.”
The two became more comfortable with one another as the time passed, and Hamid said he noticed the student making major strides in the weeks following the trip.
Hamid to study engineering, use skills for real-world problems
Hamid said he is going to choose engineering as his undergraduate study, but he doesn’t necessarily want to become an engineer by trade.
“The reasoning behind it,” he said, “It allows you to solve real-world problems. Want to become a movie director? Hotel manager? President? Become an engineer. It helps develop analytic skills and lets you see the world in a very, very different perspective.”
This, he said, will help him “see the physics of the world” and apply that knowledge to real-world problems.
While Hamid will work toward a coveted University of Michigan degree, he said he often questioned whether the expense is worth the degree and juggled his options.
“Education is not worth going into hundreds of thousands of debt,” he said. There are so many people in the world you see come out of non-reputable institutions and are at the top of the world, top of their field.”