BOSTON–India Association of Greater Boston, known as IAGB, announced the 2021 Community Youth Excellence Award winners, for the eighth year in a row, IAGB said in a statement, adding that it had received an overwhelming number of nominations from the exceptionally talented and accomplished students in the New England area.
“Indian American youths are making a mark with a culture of hard work and passion for excellence and achieving more. They are the architects of tomorrow’s world. It was a very challenging task to select just two winners from the outstanding and highly qualified nominations. We thank all the candidates who submitted their nominations for this award, and we wish the very best of luck to all the nominees and winners,” said IAGB President Sanjay Gowda.
The 2021 Community Youth Excellence Award winners are: Arnav Bakta a rising senior at Phillips Academy Andover, MA and Sachi Badola, a rising senior at Chelmsford High School, MA. Also, Archita Neamlikanti, a rising junior at Hopkinton Highschool, will get a special Recognition Award. The winners will be recognized at India Day Festival 2021 on August 15th at the Hatch Memorial Shell in Boston.
Arnav Bhakta is a rising senior at Phillips Academy Andover in Andover, Massachusetts. He is the Co-Founder, President, and CEO of Stem4Free, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing food waste. Under his leadership, the organization has grown to over 225 volunteers in 40 cities internationally and has collectively rescued over 780,000 servings of food, valued at over $3.90 million, from their over 120 business partners. He also co-hosted the Stem4Free sponsored podcast, The Food Talk, and helped in starting its blog. Additionally, Arnav is the Co-Founder and CEO at Ratyfi, Inc., an early-stage startup dedicated to providing a platform for crowdsourced and easily reliable ratings. Furthermore, Arnav is a Tournament Director at the Math Open at Andover, an annual math competition for middle schoolers, hosted at Phillips Academy. Last year the tournament had over 1,150 participants from around the world.
Outside of this, Arnav also researches psychology and computer science/machine learning/AI at several labs around the country. His work has been presented and published at many conferences and workshops. Academically, Arnav is also a great student, being an AP Scholar with Distinction and 2-time AIME qualifier (Distinguished Honor Roll in 2020) and staying busy with a plethora of different clubs and extracurriculars
Sachi Badola is a rising senior at Chelmsford High School. She is passionate about singing, theatre, public speaking, biology, and chemistry. She has performed at many fundraising events and won many Indian and Western singing competitions. In 2019 she was top 11 finalist at an International singing competition organized by Rotary International called, Surshree in India. She was the only contestant selected from outside India. She won the TAMY award for the best musical theater solo in the 2020 competition organized by Mount Wachusett College’s Theater at the Mount and was the top 20 finalist in Fidelity Investments Boston Pops 2021 Young Artists Competition. She also received the METG All Star Excellence award in Ensemble work. Sachi also acts in the Indian acting troupe SETU. She has been an invited speaker at many conferences and was the keynote CueByte speaker at the MASSCUE 2017 conference.
Sachi is a huge proponent of STEAM (Science, technology, engineering, arts, math) and recently received the STEM Leadership Book Award from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Sachi is co-president of her high school’s a cappella group, music liaison to her Theatre Guild, vice president of the CHS Tri-M National Music Honors Society Chapter, co-president of CHS Mentor Program and founder and president of TED-Ed club at CHS. She is currently interning at the Genomes2People Research Program directed by Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Robert Green. She taught a genetics workshop for Ekal Vidyalaya and is a passionate EKAL Youth Leader. Sachi strongly believes in the concept of growth mindset and started a podcast series with co-host Dr. Rohit Chandra called “Mindset Monday”, in which they address developing good mindsets in various aspects of life.
IAGB will also present a Special Recognition Award tp Archita Neamlikanti. Archita is a Junior at Hopkinton Highschool. She takes a deep interest in science, especially biomedical. She has developed a non-invasive optical biosensor to replace invasive tests to monitor anemia in newborns. She was one of the few statewide students who were invited to present her sensor prototype to Governor Baker, the president of MIT, CEO of Sanofi Genzyme, and other eminent personalities at the 2020 Massachusetts STEM Week. In 2021 she received a first-place award at the Massachusetts Science and Engineering Fair. She also kick-started the first World Bindi Day, with thousands of viewers around the world who tuned in to listen to the online event.
The winners will be felicitated at the grand finale that is part of the celebrations for India’s 75th Independence Day – the India Day Festival 2021 – at the Hatch Memorial Shell on August 15th from 3-7pm ET and the Hatch Shell is open to public from 2 pm. All are welcome, entry is free.
IAGB is the oldest and one of the leading Indian American organizations in New England. It serves the Indian American communities and strives to foster a strong Indian American social, cultural and community presence in New England.