BOSTON—INDIA New England News, one of the nation’s largest Indian-American news and video magazines serving the South Asian community, announced the winners of its prestigious 20-Under-20 Stars for 2020.
The 20-Under-20 Stars were selected on the basis of their academic achievements, extracurricular activities, entrepreneurship and participation in community service, as well as exceptional skills in writing, arts and music, among other factors.
“It is humbling to see so many talented, passionate kids and young adults in our community, excelling in every area in a year like no other,” said Upendra Mishra, publisher of INDIA New England News and its sister publications, IndUS Business Journal, Life Sciences Times, Hispanic Business Journal and Boston Real Estate Times.
INDIA New England’s “20 Under 20” List for 2020
Sammy is a gifted, prolific, versatile, and high energy young man who has excelled at everything he does from a very early age. He has a deep concern for the environment, his community, and the world at large, and has done all he can to take action. He is the founder and CEO of Activalytics, a company that uses machine learning/AI to connect citizens with senators and state representatives to fight for climate change, racial justice, and other social causes by analyzing their past voting records. As president of Empower The Blind, he lead this non-profit company along with several volunteers to generate funds for cataract surgeries for children in developing countries like India and has raised $5,000 so far along with other volunteers.
Sammy was a TYE Boston finalist in 2019 as a member of Team Crashpoint, who later placed as the Top 8 team in Globals. He was selected in MIT’s selective launch x entrepreneurship program and created ReFIT to improve the online clothes shopping experience. He was also the winner in 4 hackathons, or every one he participated in.
Sammy has won Jeremy K. Irons award for public speaking multiple times, and set an 80-year record with 3 consecutive wins in middle school. Other competitions he has participated in are the NSF competition, where he came 1st; and was a finalist in the North South Foundation Vocabulary Bee (where he traveled to Columbus and Dallas to participate). He also received the Travers Poetry award and performed solo as a percussionist at the Hard Rock Cafe in Boston.
Nashua High School South
As a student at Nashua High School south, Shubh consistently gets straight A’s in school. But his academics stretch beyond just school; Shubh takes on challenging classes through Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS) and took a college-level course at Harvard University over the summer of 2020. In addition to his own academic performance, he has been invested in working to get younger students interested in STEM education and has been tutoring upperclassmen students in Calculus (as a 10th grader). Recognized by his school, Shubh was a Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) scholar this year. HOBY is a youth leadership organization focused on community involvement where he continues to volunteer. Outside of academics, Shubh made it on his school’s basketball team and is most proud of his game-winner buzzer-beater his first season and also competed this year in the TiE Boston Young Entrepreneurs (TYE) Competition. His team and he developed a smart dressing room business plan and presented it to venture capitalists.
Sia and Simran Gandhi
These twin girls are exceptional students who have the drive and passion to do amazing things. Apart from being involved in sports like field hockey, crew, and gymnastics, they are very involved with their community and the arts, including playing the piano and singing. As fifth-graders, Sia and Simran founded their own non-profit organization that, now four years ago. Regarding their reason to create a nonprofit, Sia and Simran said, “From a young age, we have always been taught to be selfless and have great respect and care for others. Our parents grew up in developing countries where there was not always enough food and many people went to bed on empty stomachs. When we entered the 5th grade, we noticed that many kids would bring chips or a granola bar as part of their lunch, take one bite, and throw the rest away. We knew that this was not right and that is what led us to start our initiative called ‘Give Back With a Snack’”. After multiple discussions with the school administration, these sisters piloted the program by placing a clean crate labeled “Give Back With a Snack” in the cafeteria. At morning assembly, they communicated the initiative and asked students to donate any packaged, non-perishable items that they do not want to eat by placing it in the bin. At the end of every week, the snacks were donated to the local food pantry where people in need can enjoy them. With “Give Back With a Snack”, they strive to do three very important things: reduce food waste, care for others by giving food to people in need, and show thousands of students that they can make a difference for the better with every snack they put in the bin. Over the past two years, “Give Back With a Snack” has donated over 10,000 snacks that would have gone to waste. Presently, there are six schools participating in the program and the initiative has been recognized in local newspapers and podcasts. “It has taught us that little gestures can go a long way and that we can make a difference our my community,” they noted.
Westborough High School
As a student at the India Society of Worchester, Mansi spent five years learning Hindi and graduated with proficiency in reading, writing, and conversational skills in Hindi. Today, she assists the lead teacher in grading homework, tests and leads the class in her absence. Her positive personality makes her an excellent role model for her students and encourages them to foster love for the Hindi language and their Indian roots.
During March, when the ISW school transitioned to online teaching, Mansi realized that digital platform was a great tool to keep students engaged. When the school year was about to end, she used the platform in a new way for the students, involving activities and games to keep the kids busy during summer, and to support working parents as they juggled to strike a balance between work and family demands. She created a proposal for approval from the ISW Culture and Language school directors for conducting fun online classes for children. A pilot project was approved, allowing Mansi to work with a group of 10-15 students. This was a huge success, the project was expanded to an online program called “ISW Masti Mazaa” that offered fun activity classes to children. The activities and classes, including playing online games like Jeopardy, Draw.io, and Kahoot, received an overwhelming response. The program was later extended into almost a virtual summer camp, with around 10 student-teachers working with over 120 kids conducting classes that covered multiple fields such as Math, English, Computer Science, and Cooking. Mansi also taught two 1 hour-long beginner level Hindi classes every Friday to kids, ranging from the ages five to nine years old, teaching them basic conversational skills including greetings in Hindi, and vocabulary words for colors, numbers, and body parts. The success of Mansi’s program has led into a new venture at ISW, a tutoring match program where students are matched with a tutor or mentor who will provide help with academic subjects such as math, English, biology, and even life skills such as time-management. Mansi is currently collaborating with the ISW Cultural School directors and a fellow student-teacher on the details of the program.
Buckingham, Browne & Nichols school
Sanya Goenka is a high school junior at the Buckingham, Browne & Nichols (BB&N) school in Cambridge, MA. She, along with her sister, started their own non-profit organization called Help Empower with the goal to create awareness for underprivileged children’s education, health issues and gender equality. She wanted to inspire other youth to become involved in undertaking charitable projects to help those in need. From a young age, she has been involved in fundraising efforts and volunteering at various sites in her hometown in Wellesley, MA and in India through different organizations. She is a Youth Ambassador for the American India Foundation and she has raised funds for the Learning and Migration program (LAMP) campaign for underprivileged children’s education since she was 10 years old. She has completed multiple fundraisers helping nearly 150 children in India by raising over $8000.
This year has been no different for Sanya- she started an intiative called Help EDUCATE during COVID-19. The coronavirus outbreak created a lot of uncertainties and disrupted education with school closures for many children nationwide. With schools going online, it has become a challenge for parents to multitask with their work and manage their child’s learning. Sanya started this initiative to help students whose parents are essential workers and those facing hardships during the COVID-19 crisis. Currently there are over 30 high school student volunteers who have signed up with the program to provide free tutoring to elementary and middle school children. Sanya also raised funds to thank healthcare workers on the frontline by donating meals to Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and at the same time helping local restaurants who are suffering from layoffs and closures due to the COVID-19 lockdown, called the Help Thank our Healthcare Heroes Campaign for COVID-19. She raised over $2800 to provide 250 meals to Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) through this campaign.
Nashua High School North
Anjanadevi Govindaraj is a rising senior at Nashua High School North with love for arts, leadership, commitment and service. She is a Yale University 2020 Book Award recipient, which is awarded to high school juniors who “demonstrate outstanding personal character and intellectual promise.” She is in the top 1% of her graduating class and serves as a fundraising lead for the National Honors Society, as an officer in both Science and Latin Honors Societies, and a member of Math Honors Society. Anjana is an enthusiastic participant of Destination Imagination, a volunteer-led, educational non-profit organization that teaches 21st century skills and STEM principles to kindergarten through university level students by collaborative problem solving challenges, for more than 10 years and has participated four times in the Global Finals, including the virtual event in 2020. She is a mentor for her school’s freshman class this year through the ‘Titan Mentors’ program, and a Nashua Technology Center Ambassador for Biotechnology. Anjana released an audio CD of ‘Ramanujar Noortrandhai songs’ in 2017 to raise funds for JETUSA.org, a nonprofit religious organization that provides charitable and educational services. A passionate dancer who has been performing from her childhood, Anjana completed both Bharatanatyam and Mohiniyattam Arangetrams and choreographed many semiclassical dances. She has won Senior Solo Indian Classical dance runner-up at the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America’s annual competitions (FeTNA 2018, Frisco, TX and FeTNA 2019, Chicago, IL). For the past 5 years, Anjana has participated in the annual fundraising dance productions for Vision-Aid, a non-profit organization serving the visually impaired in India. She stepped up as a youth leader for this summer’s 2020 Vision-Aid virtual production, helping with teaching and marketing the event. She has also participated in a dance production for Ivy Child International’s Summer Benefit 2018, through the Nrityanjali school of dance. A violin player for more than 9 years, she has performed for Alzheimer’s patients in a local nursing home. Anjana has also been working as a Registered Pharmacy Technician at a local compounding pharmacy for the past year, and volunteers in a local hospital and assisted-living community for the past two years. She has received The President’s Volunteer Silver Service Award in 2020 and the Indian Association of New Hampshire (IANH) Youth Service Award in 2019 for her volunteer works and community service.
Woodhill Middle School
Apart from the many academic awards Jiya has won, the one thing that distinguishes her is her kindness. For three years in a row, Jiya has been named as the ‘Best Surfer for the Kindness Waves’ in her class. She’s known in her school as a kind and helpful kid who’s always there to cheer other kids when they are sad, lonely or when they need any help. She actively fights against bullying in her school. Jiya is been an active young woman and enjoys swimming, gymnastics, ballet, and ice skating- but she has a passion for music. Every year she tries to learn one new instrument. She started with the violin and the recorder, then quickly moved onto drums, as well as being a member of the junior vocals team for the last 3 years. Jiya has done many solo vocal recordings during the COVID-19 pandemic, and volunteered to perform on special occasions, and did a dedicated edition thanking the essential workers.
Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science at WPI
Darshan is currently a senior at the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science where he is pursuing his strong interest in STEM, and has been recognised as a National Merit Commended Scholar, as well as a National Advanced Placement (AP) Scholar with Honor, and AP Scholar with Distinction. An avid programmer, he has worked on many software applications, including a program to help visually impaired pedestrians navigate safely. In competitions, he has received First Place in the Providence College High School Computer Programming Competition and Third Place in the University of New Hampshire’s High School Computer Programming Competition. As a team member, his team reached the Platinum Division for the CyberPatriot cybersecurity competition.
In the summer of 2019, he was selected to attend the prestigious MIT BeaverWorks Summer Institute program, where he worked on projects involving machine learning and artificial intelligence. In the following summer, he was chosen to be a Teaching Assistant (TA) for the same course.
He has been a key member of the software subteam of FIRST Robotics Competition teams, which has placed 5th in the world finals in Detroit in 2018. He is also passionate about entrepreneurship, and was a state finalist for the DECA business and entrepreneurship competition for two years in a row, and placed 2nd in the state for the financial consulting exam.
In mathematics, he received the Honor Roll on the AMC 10 and 12 exams and qualified for the American Invitational Math Examination (AIME) in grades 10 and 11. As the math team captain at Chelmsford High School, where he completed his freshman and sophomore years, he has competed and won in many competitions. He also competed in the state science olympiad, where he was placed 6th in the thermodynamics event. In 8th grade, he got the grand award at the Johns Hopkins Center For Talented Youth’s program for getting a perfect SAT math score.
Darshan is a strong believer in giving back to the community. This past summer, through his website, he offered free online one-on-one math tutoring sessions to students across the world who needed supplemental help due to COVID-19-related challenges, and plans to continue the free sessions during his winter and summer breaks. He is a recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award Gold Medal for over 100 hours of volunteer service at the iStart Valley nonprofit organization, where he is currently serving as a member of the Youth Executive Committee. As the treasurer of the India Association of New Hampshire’s (IANH) Youth Group, he is a regular volunteer at the Nashua Soup Kitchen and has helped with fundraising for various charities.
Kathir Meyyappan is a junior at Westford Academy, with an avid interest in math and continued commitment towards teaching math to kids. A recipient of Westford Academy’s Mathematics Department award (awarded to one student) at the end of the year from his school for excellence in the school year and also the recipient of the Westford Academy’s Band Department Award, he has excelled at mathematics. He has led many workshops in the past few years, teaching younger children different topics, and raising thousands of dollars for charity in the process, most notably a math workshop for Ekal Vidyalaya for 4 weeks aimed towards younger kids, raising $5,000 dollars and adopted a school for lifetime support at Ekal. He is the co-founder of Ekal Workshops, a chapter of Ekal Vidyalaya dedicated to running workshops led by youth leaders. He has taken part in many math competitions, including multiple perfect scores at the MML (Massachusetts Mathematics League), supporting his team to a top 10 position at stats; Mathcounts States; and he qualified for the American Invitational Mathematics Exam, a prestigious exam that selects its participants based on exceptional performance, where he placed as one of the top mathematics students in the country.
Kathir was an honoree at the John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, and currently works as an instructor and tutor at RSM (Russian School of Mathematics), where he tutors students one on one in the more intensive RSM materials, from addition to calculus. He also has proctored exams for them and TAed at classes. He is currently the youngest employee at RSM. He learns carnatic Mridangam from Guru Pravin Sitaram and also learnt carnatic vocal from Smt. Aparna Balaji. He works at the Russian School of Mathematics (RSM), where he tutors kids. He plays saxophone, and is the IMAP director for his school band, as well as a member of the Marching, Pep, and Jazz Bands there. He enjoys playing tennis and reading in his spare time.
Lexington High School
Jusrin Padam, a senior at Lexington High School is a charming, caring, and wonderful teenager who consistently works hard, and cares about everyone and everything she does. With a significant portfolio at a young age, Jussi is the current Miss Teen New England 2020 from the Miss India New England pageant and launched her own podcast in 2019, where she provides a community and a safe space, as well as tips and tricks, to help manage and deal with stress and negativity. She is the president of the “Presents for Patients” club, which provides presents to patients at area children’s hospitals, and was captain of her high school soccer team for 2 out of 3 years, and has played on Travel Club teams since she was ten, becoming the lead scorer since 2017 and earned the Golden Boot Award for her playing. She has also emceed at a 2020 New Year’s Eve Party for the United India Association of New England (UIANE), and modelled for photoshoots, events, and catwalks, since she was 6 years old, in publications such as Disney Magazine (Wondertime) and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Jussi also led and managed the Harvard Internship, where she was tasked to bring a Weekend Harvard Academy to Lexington High School including logistics, pricing, marketing and overall administration; all on her own.
George Washington University, D.C.
Neha has been a leader and political and social activist from a young age. In her high school years, she was Vice President of her class and later became Class President her senior year at Worcester Academy. She was a trailblazer for racial equity in her high school and co-founded Worcester Academy’s South Asian Affinity Group to create a safe space for South Asian students to be themselves and discuss actions for change. In addition to her work with her peers, she was also president of Newmans Society, an organization dedicated to providing additional tutoring for elementary school students from the local Worcester public schools.
Her high school journey led her to accept George Washington University’s Paris Scholars Program, while pursuing a double major in Economics and Political Science with an emphasis in public policy. Neha, along with 12 other students, took the opportunity to study abroad in Paris for her freshman year of college before returning to GWU. While GWU chose to move to an online model this semester due to the pandemic, Neha took this in stride and instead used this as an opportunity to further push herself. Instead of staying home, she has decided to work on the Gita Nagari Eco-Friendly Farm in Pennsylvania to learn more about sustainability, ethical practices, and the environmental advantages of self-sufficient communities in an immersive and hands-on model. She is currently working on starting her own blog on breaking down politics for youth and is focusing on how we can be more sustainable. Her dream is to write her own progressive policy one day.
Westborough High School
Aarushi is a hardworking girl striving for perfection in whatever she does, be it academics, singing, acting, dancing, swimming, mentoring fellow students, or volunteering. Having received a perfect Math-II SAT score and won the Accelerated Math, Science, French, History and English and ‘Excellence in Writing’ Honors awards in her school, Aarushi continues to demonstrate that if one gives it ones best, one can come out on top. She stood third in the State in the 200m Butterfly Bay State swim games summer of 2019, and placed in the top three during many of her high school swim meets in the past two seasons. As someone who enjoys acting, she won the Director’s Choice acting award at the start of her high school year. She often lends her voice to singing the US National Anthem solo at large events, like the state-level swim championships, the Indian Association of Greater Boston (IAGB) India Republic and Independence Day celebrations and most recently the Indian Society of Worchester (ISW) India Independence Day celebrations. She has been preparing for her Bharatanatyam dance arrangetram this summer, which unfortunately has got postponed. The arrangetram is an event that requires a dancer to perform a 3 hour solo recital, the culmination of 11 years of an Indian classical dance education, for which Aarushi has won several first place Bharatanatyam dance awards. In addition to tutoring her peers in math and science, Aarushi has volunteered to tutor a special needs 2nd grader over the past summer for Math as a member of the National Honor Society. Aarushi truly believes in giving back. For her 16th birthday this summer, Aarushi packed 80 sandwich brownbags and dropped it off at a local homeless shelter. Aarushi has additionally organized a street cleaning effort with her fellow classmates. Aarushi continues to leave no stone un-turned in whatever she does.
This summer, Aarushi did a summer internship with STEMAWAY, a startup company that strives to create a level playing field for students in the STEM fields. As part of this, Aarushi worked on studying, understanding and coming up with strategies to tackle a true societal epidemic: teenage vaping. She was the student lead for the project which involved studying vaping in teens, vaping detection methods and ways to mitigate the problem. It is to be noted that Aarushi was the one of the few high schoolers on a team consisting mostly of college undergraduate students. The successful internship not only proved out her leadership skills and gave her experience on how to work and run a team, but also demonstrated her technical prowess as she very quickly ramped up on using computer boards to design and simulate vaping detectors. She has, along with several of her team members, submitted a conference research paper publication on this to the 2020 IEEE MIT Undergraduate Research Technology Conference.
Jay Raj Philbrick
North Yarmouth, ME
Jay has been an excellent student and an extremely active member of his community in Maine. For the past four years, he has attended the Maine School of Science and Mathematics, where he served on Student Senate for three years, as a Senator, Treasurer, and Chair of the Finances Committee. In his senior year, he was elected President and a voting member of the school’s Board of Trustees. While on Student Senate and the Board, he made increased mental health and Title IX supports his most important campaign goals in an increasingly unsafe boarding environment. Jay advocated for the implementation of a variety of student-safety focused reforms, and also pushed for more student involvement in school decision-making. As it stands, many of his policy suggestions have been implemented, and he continues to serve on the Board’s Student Welfare and Title IX committees to ensure that all students can live and learn in a safe environment.
Academically, Jay has been recognized for his talents in a variety of subjects through earning his school’s Renaissance and Polymath Awards. As a junior, he and his team won the Maine State Science Bowl, and competed at the Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl, where they placed second in their Division Team Challenge. In 2020, he qualified for the New England Association of Mathematics Leagues Math Team Championship through top twenty placement in Maine, but was unable to participate on account of its cancellation due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In politics, Jay has served as a scholar of the U.S. Senate Youth Program, a Page for the United States Senate, a Delegate to the Maine Democratic Convention, and was elected as the youngest member of the Electoral College in American history by his cohort of over two-thousand delegates. He was also proud to author an amendment to the Maine Democratic Party Platform, recognizing our nation’s flawed criminal justice system, and committing the state party to fundamental reform to promote liberty and justice for all. This amendment passed the Platform Committee (a group of Democratic Party leaders and activists) unanimously, and was adopted by the two-thousand member delegation into the Party Platform with over 99% approval, when few other proposed amendments did. He also organized a series of voter registration drives and political discussions across his county to get other high schoolers more involved in politics.
Finally, Jay founded and leads the Maine chapter of an entirely student-run 501(c)(3) non-profit called TeleHealth Access for Seniors, Inc., and serves as the organization’s Advocacy Director. TeleHealth collects old video-chat enabled devices and donates them to rural and low-income primary care providers so that they can provide telemedicine services to senior citizens who would otherwise be unable to access them. The non-profit also provides device guides and free technical support to its seniors. As the Maine Lead, he has collected more than $2000 worth of devices, cash, and grants, all of which have gone towards rural hospitals and community health centers in Maine. As their Advocacy Director, he works with state and federal legislators to promote legislation that provides funding and support for the expansion of telemedicine throughout the country. This summer, Jay also studied Hindi on a NSLI-Y scholarship. Jay will be attending Brown University in January, consistent with their re-opening plan, studying economics, applied mathematics, and public policy. He has also been accepted to the Bonner Community Fellowship at Brown, a selective and prestigious community service internship program. Before he arrives on campus, he will serve as an intern at the Maine Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee, working on developing economic policy solutions to Maine’s economic woes.Jay was also one of just six Maine students who earned semifinalist status for the United States Presidential Scholars Program.
Newton South High School
Shiv Sawhney is involved in his community and civically engaged, and ever since the pandemic started, he has start volunteering in his community even more. In April, along with the Newton South Health Occupations Students of America, he started collecting iPads on behalf of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. With these iPads, COVID-19 patients who were nearing the end of their lives were able to communicate with their loved ones without exposing them to the virus.
Shiv is also a force for civic and academic engagement. He is a student representative on the Newton School Committee, where he works with elected officials to discusses problems that affect students and help the committee make decisions. Especially in the past few months, when the School Committee was making plans to re-open, he worked to advocate for students and the issues they cared about, going into the new school year. Additionally, he is a Commissioner on the Newton Youth Commission. On the Newton Youth Commission, he works with his city government to help plan city-wide events and promote awareness of social issues. He is also very involved in his school community. He was elected to his school’s student council, South Senate. On Senate, he writes legislation to help solve problems that students face at school and serves as a liaison between the student body and school administration. He is a member of Newton South’s South Asian Student Association, and served as the treasurer of the group last year. At SASA, he helps manage fundraisers for charities and organized a Diwali Potluck, a Holi function, and a yearly Bollywood dance at his school to spread cultural awareness and educate his classmates about South Asian culture. In addition to this, he is a part of his school’s Future Business Leaders of America club. Here he serves as an Operations Officer. At FBLA, he competes in business competency competitions, and in 2019 he was the Massachusetts State champion in Health Care Administration and Global Business.
Safalta (Aashi) Sanjay Shukla
Shrewsbury High School
Safalta (Aashi) is young woman who is passionate about the arts. A violist in the Worcester Youth Symphony Orchestra (WYSO), she performed at the Czech Republic and in front of Governor Charlie Baker last year. Aashi is also ardent about all forms of dances , such as Indian Classical, Kathak, hip-hop and shuffle. She performed in a production called “Navashakthi” for charity to support children with genetic disorders. She also performed at Celtics NBA pre-game and organized Bollywood dance team at her school.
Aashi is also very passionate and active when it comes to civil rights. In eighth grade, she organized a schoolwide walkout to protest against gun violence and school shooting. More recently, she was actively involved in organizing and mobilizing students to protest against the recent killing of George Flyod. She has co-initiated an organization called the Massachusetts Union of Student Activists (MUSA) which fights for all civil rights issues. Aashi is a consistent Highest Honors student who is a national finalist in the ProjectCSGirls Competition for her project, an app on obesity. Since freshman year, she’s also part of the Indian Youth Group (IYG) and have volunteered on various occasions such as the Walk for Hunger in Boston and Shrewsbury Town Fair. During the COVID-19 lockdown, she volunteered at ISW’s Masti Mazaa Summer Program which was initiated to entertain and educate children during quarantine. As a High School Virtual Tutor, she intends to continue volunteering and tutoring when school starts again.
Norwood High School
Khushi Shah is a rising senior at Norwood High School in Norwood, MA, who makes a strenuous effort to serve her community. As a student with a summa cum laude GPA, Khushi has earned the certificate of recognition for Academic Excellence and Dedication and received the Wellesley Book Award. She is an active member of the National Honor Society, Tri-M National Music Honor Society, and National Foreign Language Honors Society. An athlete for all four years, Khushi is on the Varsity Volleyball team and also contributes to the program by fundraising. As a proud Girl Scout Ambassador for over ten years, Khushi served a one year term recently as a Girl Board Member on the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts (GSEMA) Board of Directors. Her platform allowed her to help build courage, confidence, and character in young girls through the Girl Scouts program. She led a take-action journey where she created an engaging event to educate and uplift young girls about female empowerment to help evolve their self-confidence. Khushi was also invited as a Table Ambassador for the Annual GSEMA Leading Women’s Award event, where she emceed. Currently, she is pursuing her Girl Scout Gold Award.
Khushi has been involved with the nonprofit organization Bighelp since her childhood, receiving several awards for her artwork. As a youth student leader, Khushi has given back to the organization by volunteering for the last six years. She is a recipient of the Rising Star Bronze Award in 2019 in appreciation of an exceptional initiative to raise funds for Bighelp and sponsoring the education of underprivileged children in India. Outside of school, Khushi is an alumna of the Shishu Bharti School of Languages and Culture of India, after attending for eight years and receiving a diploma. She competed in several writing competitions, including writing poetry in Hindi. Her involvement in Shishu Bharati also included attending annual Hindi Munch events and receiving awards for cultural dances and performances. Volunteering there every Sunday morning since 9th grade earned her the Presidential Volunteer Silver and Bronze Awards.
Khushi’s engagement in school goes much further. She is president of the Environmental Youth Coalition Program (EYC) where she focused on her mission to promote and raise awareness for a more sustainable and green community. She is also involved in Global Citizens Program (GCP) where she is actively leading and promoting a global understanding of cultural differences and raising awareness about local and global conflicts to help reform society. She received the Youth Leadership Model G20 Summit Certificate for her role as a delegate in international relations at the summit. In addition, Khushi was amongst a few selected peers who represented her school in their Anti-Defamation League as a Peer Leader. She was chosen by the A World of Difference Institute Peer Training Program as a leader for positively impacting her school by providing her peers with awareness and social consciousness. Furthermore, as an incoming senior, she has been selected into the Mustang Mentors Program where she is helping incoming 8th graders transition into high school. Khushi has been awarded the Wellness Champion Award in Health Education as well as the Underclassmen Award for Health.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, Khushi made a difference in her community. She joined Sew We Care, an organization that made masks for front line workers and fundraised as well. Khushi is currently volunteering through Needham’s “Promoting Health Together” Project, raising mental health awareness during the pandemic. Besides this, she initiated a penpal exchange with the residents of the local senior center and high school students to help brighten up their days as no visitation was allowed during quarantine.
Newton North High School
Shivani has always been academically passionate and enjoys a challenging curriculum. Being a teacher’s assistant and design major has allowed her to express her creative side while her other rigorous courses portray her intellectual curiosity. She has served as a Teachers Assistant (TA) for 10th grade math classes during her junior year for both the Honors and regular courses, and has received Newton North High School’s Business Certification for taking over 10 credits of business courses.
As a naturally social person, Shivani enjoys running multiple clubs to connect better with her peers. She values her own and others’ cultures deeply and believes they should be recognized to encourage diversity in her school. She has taken charge as President of the International Students Association, Officer and PR Manager for the Asian Culture Club, and Officer and Choreographer for South Asian Student Association at her high school.
Shivani is most passionate about her dance. While she appreciates all styles, she’s particularly enthusiastic about Bharatnatyam for its beauty and rich culture. Performing Bollywood has kept her in touch with modern India, while Bharatanatyam has encouraged her to learn more about her religion and roots. Shivani has also been choreographing dances for herself and others since the 6th grade and gained a great deal of confidence, creativity and leadership skills from it. In Bharatanatyam, she has performed and choreographed for annual Indian festivals, classes she teaches and for her own teacher. She has also done Vision Aid 145 hours Community Service and is a Indian Raga (Out of MIT) Fellow and choreographer. Shivani has also choreographed and performed Bharatanatyam fusions at school events and has taught Bharatanatyam classes to young kids for the past 2 years.
In addition to placing second in the Swaraag Dance competition in 2018, Shivani has choreographed and performed Bollywood dances for her school’s South Asian Student Association, for Community Diwali events and Gurjar Association events, weddings and other celebrations
From giving pitches to businesses to running food stalls to dancing in productions, Shivani has always been ardent about giving to those in need however she can. Her natural talent combined with her bubbly and social personality has made doing charity services enjoyable and rewardable for all involved. She is a Youth Ambassador for Akshaya Patra and has spoken at Akshaya Patra Gala and raised over $1500 in 2 days for the organization. She has also raised and donated $1000 for Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America’s earthquake relief fund.
Shivani has been passionate and enthusiastic about her culture from a young age. She enjoys communicating in her two mother tongues and learning about her roots through Sanskrit and has completed her 4-year SAFL certification course. Knowing Sanskrit has helped her understand yoga, Hinduism, other Indian languages, dance and so much more. She hopes to pursue Sanskrit in her college future. She is also fluent in French, receiving the French National Exam Bronze Medal in 2018 and 2019.
Music is a big part in Promit’s life. A very talented singer with marked interest in Indian music, he has been learning various genres of Indian music including Hindustani classical and Rabindrasangeet since he was 7 years old. Graduated from his Rabindrasangeet school Swaralipi when he was 15 years old, Promit was praised immensely for his solo performance during a 2 hour long graduation recital. After graduation, Promit continued to perform in various Indian cultural events and was invited by various organizations to perform online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Promit is also a talented pianist, who has been awarded almost every year at New England Music Festival, including 1st prize in two events when he competed in 2020.
Academically gifted, with a 4.9 GPA in all honors and AP classes, Promit has been involved in various STEM activities since elementary school, showed leadership during these activities. He played the role of the leader, despite being the youngest member of his FLL robotics team when was in 7th grade and helped the team to receive the award for best team spirit. His interest and leadership in robotics got him chosen to be a mentor of FLL team of Bicentennial Elementary School, where he was praised for his ability to work with younger kids, teach them and lead them to their goal. In addition that mentoring, Promit also spent 6 hours every week during the school year with STEM Bud, an organization led by high school students to inspire, teach and train elementary school students in STEM activities.
Promit was honored as a youth leader by Distressed Children & Infants International for his contribution, interest and devotion to work with the organization to support and help distressed children in various countries in Asia and South America. He raised $1600 as a birthday fundraiser to support primary healthcare for the children living in the slums of Dhaka. Recently he led other youth leaders of DCI to launch a website for an online art competition to support treatment and prevention of blindness in children living in Bangladesh.
Algonquin Regional High School
Sharada Vishwanath, a rising senior at Algonquin regional high school, is an extraordinary young woman who enjoys a variety of challenges and is immersed in numerous volunteering and other activities, both within her school and in the larger community. Her STEM project earned her first prize in Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair 2020, where she developed an agent-based model that addresses the complex microbial interactions of B. subtilis & C. albicans in the gastrointestinal host tissue, allowing an increased understanding of the bacterial dynamics within the gut microbiome. At school, she is President of Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), where they organize school-wide seminars on health topics such as healthy diets, substance abuse, and mental health. HOSA has also represented and participated in the Massachusetts State Leadership Conference in 2017. She works hard to ensure that every HOSA member gets excited to lead, serve, and prepare themselves for health care professions. Sharada dedicates her weekends to tutoring underprivileged kids in math and science in the Greater Worcester area. She is also a member of the Support A Child (SAC) Youth Council, a nonprofit organization for providing education to underprivileged children in India. With members of the youth council, she helped organize annual membership drives through cultural events, holding workshops, and drafting and delivering appeals.
Sharada is Online Editor in Chief of the award-winning school newspaper, The Harbinger. She is in charge of the layout, design, and content. She also writes headlines, captions, editorials, gets graphics and photos for each piece, and oversees social media.
She has been passionate about Hindustani classical music, learning and performing in various temples, festivals and stage shows. She recently received special accolades in Lokvani after singing vandana in the Vedic graduation pooja at Shirdi Sai Parivar Mandir 2019.