Two talented students receive the 2014 Kunal & Neha Nayyar Scholarship
by Deneia Washington
Last spring, senior Darryl Gene Daughtry, Jr. and junior Kevin Murray were awarded the second annual Kunal & Neha Nayyar Scholarship, established by alumnus Kunal Nayyar, MFA '06, and his wife Neha Kapur. The fund provides two $10,000 scholarships annually for students studying acting who have demonstrated financial need, with a preference for students who attended urban public schools. In addition, the fund provides $5,000 yearly in travel stipends to assist students attending graduate school auditions and conferences.
Deneia Washington spoke to both men about what the scholarship meant to them and where they see themselves in the future.
Darryl Gene Daughtry, Jr. When Darryl Gene Daughtry, Jr. is not in rehearsals or on stage - he was last seen in Temple Theaters' Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, he is using his free time to apply for scholarships. As a rising junior, who had matured in his theater work and studies, Daughtry would apply for as many scholarships as he came across.
“At the end of my sophomore year I applied to every scholarship offered, including the Theater scholarships,” says Daughtry, an Acting concentration. “Got none of them.”
With the incentive to be self-sufficient and dependent on no one – not even his parents - for financial support, as to not burden them with his troubles, Daughtry had to rid of certain college “luxuries”, to offset some of the financial costs.
“I had to drop my meal plan in order to pay for rent this past year, so it was really, really tough,” Daughtry says. “I know my parents have their own bills they have to pay, so I feel guilty asking them every month for food money.”
Continuing to fill out scholarships as he prepared for his senior year last spring, Daughtry was met with good news.
“I can eat again!” were Daughtry’s first thoughts upon hearing he had received the Kunal and Neha Nayyar Scholarship.
Daughtry was one of two recipients of the Kunal and Neha Nayyar Scholarship. The Nayyar Scholarship was created by Temple Alumnus and star of CBS show The Big Bang Theory, Kunal Nayyar. The scholarship gives two recipients who are studying acting, and in financial need $10,000 each.
“I get to graduate with $10,000 less debt, which is beautiful,” he says. Daughtry believes that applying for scholarships is essential to college students. “There’s so much untapped money for scholarships that we just aren’t using,” says Daughtry.
Nearing the end of his college career, Daughtry is thinking ahead about ways to enhance his acting even more and network with some of the future greats in theater and film. These future plans include attending graduate school at Yale or NYU.
He also has a passion for service and hopes to give back to the community through theater. “We have so many untapped resources. We have acres and diamonds right here where we live, so why don’t we use it?” he says.
Daughtry believes that immersing the Temple Theater department into the community helps attract diverse audiences and has the ability to change the world we live in. “Things always get better with diversity,” Daughtry says. “When you have a lot of people thinking on a lot of different wavelengths, you come up with the best frequency.”
"My dad is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever known,” says Kevin Murray, junior Theater major and the second recipient of the Kunal and Neha Nayyar Scholarship. “Watching him be a strong worker and having good work ethic has been an inspiration. I always wanna make my family proud and I always wanna be the best person I can be.”
Along with his responsibilities as Musical Theater concentration, as performing in productions which include, but are not limited to, Spring Awakening, Oklahoma!, and Hair, Murray is a Resident Assistant at one of Temple University’s dorms.
“Financially me and my family aren’t in a good place right now and school’s been very rough,” says Murray. “I work as an RA on top of being in the shows I’ve been in so I can live on campus and save money on commuting.”
Upon receiving the news that he is a recipient of the Nayyar Scholarship, an “emotionally stale” Murray was no more.
“I have a lot of trouble showing emotion, but when I found out that I won, I cried and I never cry out of happiness,” he says. “It just made me think that there’s people that really truly care about me, my life, my career, and my well-being.”
Murray believes that self-confidence plays a big role in whether students take the opportunity to continue to apply for scholarships. “I didn’t apply for this scholarship thinking that I was going to get it. I did it because I thought I should be taking proactive steps,” says Murray. “You can think you might not be eligible, but you should still apply for it because you’d be surprised.”
To Murray, what sets Temple’s Department of Theater apart from other colleges is the ways in which the department really tries to immerse students into the Philadelphia theater culture. “I know a lot of colleges, it’s like you’re their product for four years, you cannot do anything; you’re stuck here,” Murray says.
At Temple, he says, “this is your chance to start putting your foot in the world and make connections and meet people.” Murray adds, “Everyone I’ve come in contact with outside and inside of Temple is just so gracious and are very warm and welcoming.” Along with receiving his Bachelor’s degree from Temple, Murray’s future goals consist of becoming even more active in Philadelphia’s theater scene. “I think there’s so many great opportunities and there’s great theaters, and making those connections in Philadelphia is amazing,” he says.
Though Murray dream job is to be in a Broadway musical, he says he’s open to any opportunity. But for the next few years, Murray wants to be able to support himself.
“If you’re doing what you love then there’s nothing to be unhappy about.”
Murray appears in Lerner & Loewe's Brigadoon, opening next week.