INDIA New England News Announces 20 Under 20 Stars List for 2021

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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 2021.

The 20-Under-20 Stars were selected on the basis of their 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 young adults working hard to create a better world,” said Upendra Mishra, publisher of INDIA New England News and its sister publications, IndUS Business Journal, Life Sciences Times, and Boston Real Estate Times.

INDIA New England’s “20 Under 20” List for 2021

Adarsh Sairam Ambati
Adarsh Sairam Ambati

Adarsh Sairam Ambati
12th grade
Archbishop Mitty High School
San Jose, California

A rising senior at Archbishop Mitty High, environmentalism is at the heart of Adarsh Sairam Ambati’s interests. Through scientific research, he has developed devices that are easily accessible and user-friendly that solve real world problems. He received several national and international recognition for his innovations and community service. Ambati founded Gro-STEMs, a non-profit that that focuses on promoting climate change awareness and STEM education for all. The foundation spreads climate awareness through STEM classes and Care Cards. They partner with several local libraries, national organizations including Black Girls Code, and international organizations like Aarti for Girls, a home for abandoned girls, to conduct more than 150 STEM classes and Science Fair Boot Camps. They also have distributed over 550 Care Cards with tips on being more environmentally friendly. Ambati raises funds by growing and selling succulents and has raised about $6,250 to date to support his initiatives. These funds annually sponsor four Aarti students for high school education. Furthermore, Ambati ran a GoFundMe campaign for shelters both in the Bay Area and in India. Gro-STEMs partnered with “Help Indian Hospitals” to help fund oxygen concentrators when India was devastated by the pandemic in early 2021. Additionally, Ambati works with his team to conduct Fire Resource Drives to support shelters during California’s wildfire season. The pandemic could have easily shut down Gro-STEM’s operations, but Ambati’s continued drive to succeed has allowed the organization to not just survive during these unprecedented times but thrive in it.

He’s been awarded multiple awards for his innovations, including International Eco-Hero Innovation Award and Gloria Barron Young Heroes award for his many scientific projects. His contactless vital signs monitor project has been awarded nationally and internationally, including the Davidson Institute Fellowship scholarship and the International Raspberry Pi competition. Ambati has been featured in newspapers, TEDx talks, Raspberry PI magazine, the Guardian, podcasts, and live streams as a young changemaker. Ambati’s body of work not only shows his intellect but also how much he values making connections and building community.

During the summers of 2020 and 2021, Ambati was selected for the Stanford Earth Young Investigator summer internship researching the importance of biodiversity in our planet’s history, one of the 12 selected out of hundreds. He is also conducting epidemiology research on COVID19 mutations at Brandman Lab, Stanford University. Ambati also believes that legislative action is necessary for widespread action, so he personally serves as the Environmental Justice lead of his school’s student-led advocacy club called Mitty Advocacy Project (MAP), a member of the San Jose District 10 Youth Advisory Council, and a Committee Chair of California’s District 18 Congresswoman Anna Eshoo’s Student Board. In these roles, he has introduced multiple environmental policy recommendations locally and statewide.

Sidharth Anantha

Sidharth Anantha
Sophomore
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Sidharth Anantha’s goal in aerospace research is clear: he wants to be a leader in the aerospace industry, revolutionize the technologies, and help to shape the course of humanity. He dreams of a world where personalized aviation is commonplace on planet earth, and humanity has transit hubs in orbit, cities on the Moon and Mars. A rising sophomore studying Aerospace and Computer Engineering at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Anantha is passionate about aerospace engineering and the recipient of the prestigious 1931 Engineering Scholarship. As a freshman at college, he was a research intern at a University of Michigan Aerospace research lab, working on building efficient unmanned aerial vehicle aircrafts. He is also an aerodynamics engineer at MASA, a student-run organization that aims to launch a rocket into space. As a high school student, Anantha completed a summer internship at MIT in Professor John Hansman’s ICAT research group. In 2019, Anantha was accepted into CEE’s Research Science Institute (RSI), and he worked with his research mentor on the SSTOL project, which is a ‘super’ short takeoff and landing vehicle.
Anantha’s passion for helping humanity is also felt on this planet itself. Inspired by watching a blind woman who struggled to navigate her surroundings successfully, as a freshman in high school, Anantha invented “Seeing for the Blind”, a pair of glasses that help blind people navigate their surroundings. After four years of prototyping, this device is intuitive, comprehensive and cheaper than the most advanced products on the market. After winning $11,000 in funding, Anantha created his company, Seeing for the Blind, and then partnered with a local non-profit, Vision-Aid to test and pilot his product with blind people in India. In January 2021, Sid received a US patent for this device (“Wearable Navigation System for the visually blind”), for his invention that has the potential to change lives. Anantha is always motivated by the intellectual challenge and the potential for having a transformative impact on peoples’ lives by solving problems through engineering, and for this work, has been awarded as a SXSW Student Startup Finalist (2020), Research Science Institute Scholar (2019). Presidential Volunteer Service Award (2019). 2nd Place Internationally at The Diamond Challenge (2019), 2nd Place Overall at Massachusetts State Science Fair (2019), the Henry Ford Model I Youth Innovator Award (2018)

Sivani Arvapalli
12th grade
South Windsor High School

An optimistic, hard-working leader, Sivani Arvapalli works hard to spread smiles around her community and finds happiness while helping others. She was named CT’s top volunteer of the year by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards in 2018. At her school, Arvapalli is president of the Interact Club, vice president of the Model UN Club, tech captain of the Science Olympiad Team, co-founder of TILE club, Co-chair of the South Windsor Advisory Board in her town, and the Red Cross blood drive committee chair. Recently, Arvapalli received the George Eastman’s Young Leader Award from her school for her strong leadership in school, her community, and her high academics in challenging courses along with extensive involvement in extracurricular activities.

Arvapalli is a leader in the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization Power of Peace group (POP). She led fundraising of over $180,000 to fulfill their mission to help socioeconomically and medically underprivileged children both locally and internationally. She helped manage communications, logistics, and operational teams as host of community events, talent shows, professional music performances, and 5k runs.

Arvapalli is also the co-founder and marketing and outreach director of South Windsor FIRST. She encourages STEM among middle schoolers in South Windsor by introducing them to the FIRST Lego League. She helps build relationships between teams, connect students to other teams, and provide resources that will help students learn more about the different aspects of FIRST Lego League. She organized and hosted the first regional event with hundreds of attendees in the local middle school, currently working on a larger event in the local high school. She also mentors over 40 kids in FIRST Lego League learning about robot design and core values. She was named by FIRST as a New England Dean’s List Winner. Other awards she has received include a 4-time Presidential Volunteer Service Award recipient, a Multiplying Good One in a Million Award, Finalist for the United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP), the best delegate for Model UN in 2021, and a 2021 Connecticut Winner of the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing. She is a research assistant at Yale University and helped with a research project at the University of CT.

Image of Ganesh Danke
Ganesh Danke

Ganesh Danke
12th grade
Chelmsford High School
Chelmsford, MA

Ganesh Danke is a bright and kind individual who values helping others through mentorship, equity, and innovation. He is a High Honors student at Chelmsford High School and has excelled in challenging courses at the Honors and AP Level. He is an active member and mentor within the Science, Robotics, and Math teams at his school and has placed highly in competitions. He and his FIRST Robotics team received Safety Awards in the FRC Massachusetts Regional and State Level competitions, and Chairman’s Awards in the FRC Massachusetts and New England competitions. They then competed in the international FRC competition in Detroit, MI. Danke is passionate about social entrepreneurship and has created projects to better his community through TiE and DECA. He competed in the TiE Young Entrepreneurs Business Competition in 2020, where he tested and developed an electric bike-sharing service to address the issue of public transportation in Suburban to rural communities. Through the DECA Business Competition, he created two other social enterprises through the start-up business plan category to combat food insecurity. He won 7th place at DECA Regionals for Project Clean Plate in 2020 and won 2nd place at both the Regional and State Level Competitions for Project Clean Crate in 2021, while also qualifying for the international competition. He also showcased his idea at the UMass Lowell Difference Makers Competition in 2021 and was awarded 2nd place for Project Clean Crate. Danke combines his dedication to community service with his passion for computer science to create applications and projects that benefit his community, such as his Bird Finder, First Aid Finder, and Community Helper applications. He has independently taught himself computer science, created impactful community-focused projects, and interned at MITRE for the past two summers to defend against cybersecurity threats. He has been incredibly proactive in his community, especially for the past 11 years through Boy Scouts. As the Senior Patrol Leader, he led and participated in many service projects, mentored others 1:1, and created weekly programs for over 60 individual scouts such as service projects, outings, and camp-outs. Ganesh has in-depth experience working on large, complicated projects and is currently working on his Eagle Scout Project to create paved paths that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, at the new Native Plant Park at Mill Road, Chelmsford.

Tanvi Gahlot

Tanvi Gahlot
10th grade
Westborough High School
Westborough, MA

Tanvi Gahlot at Westboro High School has excelled and honed her project management skills. As Vice President of Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) club at her school, she has organized events, created advertisements and contacted teachers and organizations for STEM events. She excelled in the Cornell’s Biomedical Engineering Course in 2021, and explored the possibilities of biomedical engineering in neuropsychology, tissue engineering, and the applications for the future.
As a Junior reporter for the ISW Esandesh newsletter, she suggested different topics such as exploring different career options and she interviewed many ISW members who are leading entrepreneurs on how they achieved their success and the advice they had for others on how to follow in their footpath and the skills they are looking for hiring a new person. Gahlot is also an active member of the ISW’s India Youth Group (IYG). As part of IYG, she participates in various community service projects including the IYG Humrahi Senior Citizen events, planning the Children’s Room at the ISW India Day and helping organize the annual Showcase India programs. On her own, she put together 55recaps of the last 12 months of ISW activities during the lockdown in 2020, showcasing its events. As the General Secretary of IYG, she planned innovative items during its first post-COVID event and helped contact the team of 20 volunteers. Gahlot was the ISW emcee for two virtual events for the festival of Navratri & Diwali and oversaw announcing the performances. As the Registrar for the ISW Summer Camp, she handles inquiries, was a tech help for 15+ online classes happening every week and managed the enrollments and volunteers.

Simi Gandhi

Simi Gandhi
10th grade
Phillips Academy
Andover, MA

Simi Gandhi is a singer and actress who actively performs Massachusetts. Beginning her performing arts journey in 2018, and from her first performance, Gandhi has always aimed to tell a robust story. Storytelling has always held an important place in her heart. The passion that seeps out of her while performing is evident and fills the room beautifully. Her stage presence is uniquely hers and incredibly strong. Growing up, Gandhi seldom saw the South Asian community being represented on the screen and stage. In her performances, she aims to inspire children of color to sing, act, dance, and most importantly tell their own story amid it all. Gandhi is a versatile performer, and enjoys singing musical theatre repertoire, art songs in German and French, and in choirs. She has performed in the Central District Jr. Festival Choir twice and with the Handel and Haydn Society. Additionally, Simi has sung as Lydia Deetz from Beetlejuice in Phillips Academy’s popular Musical Theatre Cabaret, and performed as Belle from the Broadway Musical “Beauty and the Beast” for the Friends of the Indian Senior Citizen Society. In 2021, Gandhi portray an “Out of My Dreams” Soloist in Oklahoma!, which ran at the Hanover Theatre in mid-August. Later in the summer, she was involved in a production of The Addams Family through The New England School of Performing Arts. In 2019, she earned a scholarship from the Northborough Southborough Music Association to study voice privately under Heather Holland. In the Fall of 2020, Gandhi portrayed Robin Starveling in Phillips Academy’s production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.
Currently, Gandhi sits on the board of the Phillips Academy Music Association (PAMA). She is heavily involved with her schools’ theatre, dance, and choral departments and has so much fun singing and acting with her friends every day. Besides actively becoming a true triple threat, Simi loves to read and works hard to keep exceptionally high marks. She enjoys hiking with friends and running her non-profit “Give Back With a Snack” along her twin sister. “Give Back With a Snack” aims to reduce food waste while helping community members in need.

Arth Joshi

Arth Joshi
10th grade
Lexington, MA

Arth Joshi is a passionate filmmaker who has received national and international recognition for his short films. At the age of eight, he began to teach himself filmmaking and film editing, and he later took training at the New York Film Academy. Joshi has conceptualized, written, edited, directed, and composed music for seven short films with three more projects underway. Three of Joshi’s creations made in 2020 were selected in eight prestigious film festivals globally, finalists in 3 and the winner in one festival in the best short documentary category. These include the Youki international Film Festival, where out of 2652 submissions from 111 countries, only 80 works of young filmmakers were selected. Currently, he is working with a team of animators and co-actors from around the world on an independent project as a vocalist, animated background design artist, and voice actor for one of the main characters of a Scott Pilgrim animation project. He also just finished the shoot for a concept trailer where he plays lead character of “Ian” in a potential web series. He hopes to grow up to tell compelling stories in his own way and have a positive impact on the world around him. In summer of 2021, he underwent Advanced Film Makers training at the School of Creative and Performing Arts in NY with teachers from NYU Tisch – a schools boasting alumni such as Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, and Ang Lee.
When asked what he wants to do with his films, Joshi says “films will allow me to impact the world in a positive way… I want to experiment, change and create new types of cinema.”

Srisahith Korandla

Srisahith Korandla
12th grade
Nashua High School South
Nashua, NH

Srisahith Korandla is the co-founder of Sound: the Alternative Fire Extinguisher (SAFE), a startup company working on developing acoustic-based fire extinguisher solutions for wildfires and residential fires. SAFE has competed and won the International Conrad Challenge Spirit of Innovation Prize, 1st place in States at the DECA Business Growth Plan competition, and the International Diamond Challenge Gore Innovation Excellence award. SAFE was also selected as one of 15 teams for the Sparkteen accelerator, a YCombinator-affiliated startup accelerator, and has raised preliminary funding for prototype development.
An active and enthusiastic leader, Korandla is the President of the Student Senate, Captain of the Granite State Challenge Trivia team (a televised trivia team that competes against more than 16 other New Hampshire teams), and the Vice-President of the Science Bowl Club. In 10th Grade, Korandla was recognized as a Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) (an organization dedicated to developing future leaders) Scholar by his high school. Korandla is also a member of Boy Scout Troop 261; he is the Senior Patrol Leader (SPL), and previously served as the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader (ASPL). He serves his community by volunteering at food drives and community service projects. He is currently working on his Eagle Scout Project, where he is building a learning trail near an elementary school and senior living community. He is also a member of the IANH Youth Group, and serves as the Head of Event Reporting, and previously served on the executive board. There, he helps plan and run community festivals and volunteers at events such as educational bees and soup kitchens. He works at the Nashua Kumon Center as an instructor, where he tutors students in Math and Reading. In his free time, he loves weightlifting, hiking, and brushing up on his trivia skills.

Sagar Koul

Sagar Koul
12th grade
Mansfield High School
Mansfield, MA

As co-founders of The Koul Project, Sagar and Sahil Koul co-created this non-profit organization to implement community service projects for organizations like Neonatal Intensive Care Units and specialized medical nonprofit groups that provide healthcare for premature newborn babies and children with the clubfoot birth defect. They have led many projects and initiatives for the organization, including their Kid Kits initiative with the NICU at the St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center and their initiative with the local Cedar Hill Pediatrics where they donated 80 children’s books to boost their youth reading program.

Sagar Koul is the President of the Mansfield High School Class of 2022 and Executive Member of the MHS Student Council. He was an intern for the Joe Kennedy For MA U.S. Senate Campaign and was actively involved in campaigning for his district’s congressman in a call center to reach registered Massachusetts voters by collecting information regarding voter support, interest, and availability for standouts and political events. Koul is the Southeast Regional Student Advisory Council (SERSAC) Representative for Mansfield High School, where he represents students from Mansfield High School, participates in discussions, and shares information to and from MHS, as well as debating statewide education issues and advising the Board of Elementary & Secondary Education on these issues. Koul is also a Model Senate Participant, and drafted and presented an assault weapon ban bill that was passed at their district model senate competition. Koul is an active member of the Hindu American Foundation and participated in HAF’s Annual Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill where he met with various legislators and their staff to discuss the present issues regarding the human rights of Kashmiri Hindus.

Sahil Koul

Sahil Koul
12th grade
Mansfield High School
Mansfield, MA

As co-founders of The Koul Project, Sagar and Sahil Koul co-created this non-profit organization to implement community service projects for organizations like Neonatal Intensive Care Units and specialized medical nonprofit groups that provide healthcare for premature newborn babies and children with the clubfoot birth defect. They have led many projects and initiatives for the organization, including their Kid Kits initiative with the NICU at the St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center and their initiative with the local Cedar Hill Pediatrics where they donated 80 children’s books to boost their youth reading program.
Born with clubfeet (both feet turned inwards), and undergoing surgery to straighten his feet 3 weeks after birth, Sahil Koul has led the fundraising efforts of the non-profit and spearheaded The Koul Project’s partnership with Hope Walks, an organization devoted to ensuring children born with clubfoot walk and lead healthy lives. Through this partnership, Koul worked towards providing less fortunate kids with the same treatment that he received so that they too can walk, run, swim, jump, play, and more importantly, have a meaningful life.
As Founder and President of the Mansfield High School Film Club, Koul helms weekly meetings where members analyze and discuss films seen by the group the week prior. He also writes screenplays and performs readings with club members. Koul has written screenplays that have gone on to compete in worldwide screenwriting competitions, such as the Outstanding Screenplays Shorts Competition. As a member of the USA Under-19 East Zone Cricket Team, Koul was selected and competed for the East Zone region cricket team at the Under-19 National Championship held in Houston, TX.

Akash Kumar

Akash Kumar
12th grade
Shrewsbury High School
Shrewsbury, MA

Akash Kumar is a rising senior at Shrewsbury High School. He has an avid interest in artificial intelligence, especially machine learning, and its applications to solve real world problems. From childhood, Kumar has been drawn to programming, which has led him and his team to the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) state championship at Worchester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) four times and capped the FLL years with a second-place programming award for his sequencer program. As a freshman, his project, which used deep convolutional neural networks to classify images, progressed to the Massachusetts Science and Engineering Fair (MSEF). As a sophomore, his team of two created a system for the automatic sorting of recyclable materials, reducing cross-contamination at the recycling center. The system utilized a multi-camera setup along with deep learning to implement the sorter. This project progressed to MSEF and earned a nomination to the International Science and Engineering Fair. Throughout his high school career, Kumar has been a core member of the school robotics team, leading the vision control software development effort. He has been inducted into both the National Honors Society and the National Math Honors Society. He has competed in multiple hackathons, notably placing 2nd in the Social Track at Metrohacks IV, held at Harvard University. The project provided a mode of communication for those with ALS by allowing them to communicate using only eye movements. Kumar’s desire to deep-dive into STEM has taken him to the AwesomeMath summer camps at Cornell and Computational Physics at Brown. In the summer of 2021, Kumar was accepted to the prestigious MIT Beaver Works Summer Institute, where he learned about synthetic aperture radars and developing radar control and imaging software.

Kumar gets satisfaction by imparting his knowledge to others, in turn helping them succeed. He has used this passion to conduct a Lego robotics bootcamp, raising funds for the education of underprivileged children. He has completed over 100 hours of volunteer service at Sewa USA, a faith-based, humanitarian, non-profit service organization that specializes in disaster relief and rehabilitation work, where he was a Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) intern. In the summer of 2020, he offered two six-week courses in python and scratch, raising funds for Sewa USA. Kumar was a key member in organizing and conducting Sangeetotsav, the capstone project of Sewa Boston Chapter’s LEAD program. This event raised $10,000 for Sewa USA’s many community service projects. Teaching courses on robotics, python, and math as part of volunteering made Akash realize the joy of imparting knowledge, and this will continue to be an important part of his life.

Shraddha Sunil Lulla

Shraddha Sunil Lulla
Freshman
Boston University (College of Arts and Sciences)
Boston, MA

Shraddha Sunil Lulla has been described as a bright, engaged learner, who is dedicated to helping others in any capacity. An exemplary AP student, Lulla received countless awards even as a senior for her contribution to multiple student government positions, including the Principal’s award, Weston Health Advisory Council, High School council, AP Psychology award and numerous awards for her contribution to science. She is a National Honors Society Member and National Music Society member, as well as a member of the school’s jazz choir and concert choir. Lulla has been singing all her life- and in fact, sang the Barney song at age 9 months even 3-word sentences were spoken. She received the Kindness Award as nominated by her cohort of seniors at Weston High and has earned the Presidential Volunteer service Award for 2 consecutive years for this activity. Lulla received her Girl Scout Gold Award in the fall of 11th grade, the highest award that a girl scout can achieve for their work towards helping their community. She stuck with her group and group leader achieving some of the best goals at serving the community for the past 11 years starting 1st grade.
Lulla was so fascinated by her love of learning about probiotics in high school that she researched it further starting in 10th grade. Her research was accepted for publication in 11th grade, and finally was published a scientific paper with her as first author- rarely heard of for high schoolers, “A Study of Caenorhabditis elegans’ Dietary Preference for Bacterial Probiotics versus Escherichia coli” She and her co-founding team at Weston High School’s Biobuilder Team have worked on a research that has also been accepted as a publication article to appear in Science in fall of 2021.

Image of Naila Moloo
Naila Moloo

Naila Moloo
10th grade
Elmwood School
Ottawa, ON

Moloo sheds light on the fact that you can do whatever you put your mind to, regardless of age. She has consulted for the United Nations where she created a program for girls in Nairobi, Kenya to increase digital access to technology, talked at conferences by Zappos and Microsoft, spoken on nearly 10 podcasts, designed a fusion-propelled rocket, placed 2nd nationally at the Canada Wide Science Fair where she decreased cellular screen time in teens by 2 hours per person per day, and is the bestselling novelist of “Chronicles of Illusions: The Blue Wild” which was released when she was 14 years old.
Moloo is currently building transparent and flexible solar cells in a lab, and her hope is to create accessible and efficient panels that can be placed on one’s window, car, or even be used in smart clothing. She is interning at Pond Biomaterials as the youngest working member, where she is developing her own bioplastic from duckweed. She hopes to have this commercialized by fall 2022. On top of this she is writing a sequel to my novel, crafting a children’s book series on emerging technologies, and recently finished a 6-week intensive sustainability program at Stanford University where 30 people were invited globally. To increase her outreach to young people, Moloo is the co-host of The Curiosity Podcast, a show aimed at equipping future changemakers with the skills they need to thrive.

Sanya Nadeem

Sanya Nadeem
7th grade
JMS
Walpole, MA

During the COVID-19 pandemic, 12-year-old Massachusetts National Scripps Spelling Bee champion Sanya Nadeem felt terrible for those who were enduring so much hardship, especially in India. Using her love of teaching to give back to the community, she started conducting online classes for the kids in her neighborhood. Nadeem taught a total of 120 classes for 45 students (ages 7-12) over 12 weeks, covering 4 subjects in 2020-2021: Spelling/Vocabulary, Poetry, Geography, and Book Club. She also included some fun educational games. Nadeem created a Google Form for enrollment, created lesson plans for all subjects and all age groups, allocated kids into groups, assigned homework and followed up with all parents via email with weekly updates on classes, and spent close to 250+ hours on the overall fund-raising initiative over the 2020-2021 summers. She raised a total of $3,700, $1,800 in 2020 and $1,900 in 2021, in charitable donations from these summer online classes for the American India Foundation [AIF] to aid the underprivileged in India during the pandemic. Nadeem also wrote a letter to the AIF CEO about her fund-raising initiative. Her initiative and letter (along with the CEO’s reply) was featured in the AIF newsletter last year, circulated to 30,000+ people.

Nadeem published 2 articles in Sharon/Walpole Advocate and the Boston Globe on ‘missing sports in the pandemic’ last year. And her poetry on ‘Climate change’ was selected in the Cambridge Science Festival 2021. Her Girl Scout troop earned the Bronze award last year for putting in 150+ hours of community service and for creating a kindness video to spread awareness to her school district.

Medha Pal

Medha Pal
12th grade
Wilmington High School

Medha Pal has achieved excellence as an Odissi dancer along with academic achievements. Trained under Nandini Ghoshal in India, and her mother Mouli Pal, Pal has performed extensively. In addition to dancing, she is also active as a volunteer, fundraising for Intrahealth International’s (a non-profit organization based in Chapel Hill, NC dedicated to working with developing countries to improve their public health capabilities) COVID-19 Frontline Health Worker Fund. The funds raised was used to provide more than 6,000 masks to health workers in Uganda and Kenya, allowing health workers to continue to provide vital health services to their communities. During the months of lockdown in 2020, Pal volunteered her time for Upasana Odissi Noontime events, which brought together individuals and artists internationally to heal through movement and daily interaction during lockdown. Pal has won multiple awards, including from such places as The Great India Festival 2021 Ottawa, UCon Sanskriti Aradhana 2019, GE Talent Award 2019 and Billerica Adventure Corps 2019.
At Dover-Sherborn High School Musical, Pal worked with the director Scott Walker to incorporate authentic cultural elements to the Broadway musical version of The Secret Garden, sharing knowledge of Indian culture, dance and costuming to enhance the production. Pal also worked with the students/actors to choreograph and teach the movements.
Apart from being a dancer Medha also teaches, mentors and enables young dancers to confidently perform the challenging dance form. This recognition will encourage her to continue this effort and become a valuable member of her community.

Sanjana Pulaparthi
11th grade
Westborough High School
Westborough, MA

Sanjana Pulaparthi is a rising junior at Westborough High School. She was a LEAD Intern of the 2020-2021 batch of Sewa Boston Chapter. She’s a passionate advocate of volunteerism and service and believes that everyone can contribute to society. She’s a recipient of the Presidential Service Gold Award as well as the Girl Scouts Silver Award for service. She’s a youth member of Westborough city council and a city coordinator for the climate activism group called Earth Uprising. She’s also a member of NHS through Westborough High School.
Along with these, Pulaparthi teaches Bollywood dance classes to young kids with all the proceeds going towards supporting nonprofits. The year before, she was able to donate $1000 to a nonprofit organization, Samarthanam, which supports visually impaired people in India. This year, she was able to raise about $10,000 to sponsor surgeries for children suffering from cleft and palate conditions. Pulaparthi placed second at the Arizona State Brain Bee and placed first (national finalist) at the NSF regional brain bee (Massachusetts) in 2021. She placed first at the NSF regional essay writing contest 2021 as well. She’s won multiple Bollywood dance competitions as a participant and as a choreographer/coach, including Sewa Boston’s Nrityameva Jayate solo competition (winning 1st place as a performer), Sewa Boston’s Nrityameva Jayate group competition (1st place as a choreographer), and was a Dance pe Chance Bollywood dance national finalist performer.

Navin Ramesh

Navin Ramesh
10th grade
Central Catholic High School
Lawrence, MA

Navin Ramesh is a rising sophomore at Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, MA who is fascinated by STEM and innovation; in addition to service, he has a keen interest in emergency preparedness, medicine, justice, and education. Along with his sibling, he is a lead youth volunteer in the CT, MA, Northern New England Region of the American Red Cross in the disaster and biomedical service branches, where he is CPR, First Aid, and AED certified. A graduated top cadet, element and platoon drill leaders of the Lowell Student Police Academy and a lead volunteer in the U.S. Office of the Sudanese American Medical Association (SAMA), Ramesh works with SAMA’s executive director and board to support humanitarian efforts and UNICEF partnerships, as well as to effect additional medical trainings in hospitals serving the most impoverished parts of Sudan. Ramesh is a youth council member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FEMA’s youth council, serving as representative for YPC Region 1 (New England). The YPC’s work has recently been highlighted by Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-01), Second Gentleman of the United States Douglas Emhoff, and FEMA National Administrator Deanne Criswell. Ramesh’s service and civil work has been highlighted by the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Creative Expressions contest.
Ramesh loves experimenting and has won seven annual Science Fairs. As a dedicated three season student-athlete, he has played ice hockey, tennis, and run cross country for over 10 years. His ice hockey team has won the League Championships, tournaments, and silver in the State Finals. He has been MVP for several seasons in tennis, and his team has won two cross country EAA State Championships.

Ranjana “Jaanu” Ramesh

Ranjana (Jaanu) Ramesh
11th grade
Central Catholic High School
Lawrence, MA

Ranjana (Jaanu) Ramesh, a rising junior at Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, MA, combines her inimitable love for biology and public policy with her passion for giving back by exploring human health, equity, and education-focused aspects of public service. Along with her sibling, Ramesh is a lead youth volunteer in the CT, MA, Northern New England Region of the American Red Cross in the disaster and biomedical service branches, as well as a graduated top cadet, element and platoon leader of the Lowell Student Police Academy and a lead volunteer in the U.S. Office of the Sudanese American Medical Association (SAMA). A youth council member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FEMA’s youth council, a capacity in which she works to increase preparedness and equity in communities at a local and national scale, Ramesh is an R1 national delegate and has attended the 2021 National Summit from Washington, D.C. Her service and civil work has been highlighted by the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Creative Expressions contest.
Deeply creative, Ramesh and her sibling created and published a e-magazine, The Happy Herald – Spirit, for over seven years and they are working to develop a website to publish their written work, as well as to record the Spirit editions for the visually impaired.
Her greatest desire is “to leave the world a bit better, whether by a garden patch or a redeemed social condition, and to know even one life has breathed easier because [she has] lived,” as Ralph Waldo Emerson has written.

Avan Prerak Shah

Avan Prerak Shah
12th grade
Phillip’s Academy Andover
Andover, MA

In middle school, Avan Shah became interested in visual effects in digital media and started using online resources to further his knowledge and creative skill. His Instagram (@effxcts), where he posts video edits primarily of sports highlights, became wildly popular with over 35k followers in just a few short years. Since then, he became founder and CEO of Effxcts LLC, providing freelance services for clients seeking visual effects for their social media content. His client list now includes Bleacher Report, NBA on ESPN, the Dallas Mavericks and Duke Men’s Basketball. He has expanded his video editing skills to 3D graphics and computer-generated imagery, recently creating several promotional videos and the album release trailer for the well-known Harlem-based rap group A$AP Mob. He hopes to expand his video editing proficiency in college and continue the growth and success of Effxcts LLC for the years to come.

Shah is also an author of a book that he wrote in the 5th grade, translating many of his grandfather’s favorite fables while growing up in India from Gujarati to English. He created colored illustrations corresponding to each story, and then published his book, “Walks with my Dada” on Amazon.com. His entrepreneurial spirit was evident even back then as he set up a website for the book, a social media page and initiated a marketing campaign which included book readings locally, and speaking engagements at North South Foundation (NSF) and a summer camp in Atlanta. He sold over 250 copies of the book and donated all the proceeds to NSF.

Elizabeth Zheng

Elizabeth Zheng
11th grade
Upper Dublin High School
Fort Washington, PA

Elizabeth Zheng is a first generation American, a passionate activist and an internationally recognized artist. In the first grade, she ran into a pot of boiling water which left her with a scar on the left side of her cheek. Because of this, she was subject to bullying and racism at her school. However, these experiences have led her to become a stronger person, and she is motivated to promote safe environments for everyone. Zheng’s art has been recognized by Scholastic Art and Writing, Celebrating Art, The Adroit Journal, The Daphne Review, and several other publications

Zheng has been a refugee activist for 3 years, and she spends much of her time creating artwork and donating to those in need. She is an artist for Artolution, a global not-for-profit that raises awareness through collaborative art making. Artolution has served over 6,000 participants living in refugee, displaced, or underserved communities. She paints murals with diverse communities in times of social turmoil/conflict in New York City. In late August, she worked on a new project in NYC with Joel Artista.

Zheng is also a blogger on UN Voices of Youth, where she creates illustrations and writes articles on their page and social media. She is the co-founder and campaign director of her 501(c)3 nonprofit Hands On Youth America. Her nonprofit matches high school students with limited opportunities to local companies for internship, volunteer, and co-op opportunities. This way, students can gain experience in fields they want to pursue outside of the classroom. So far, she has connected with Johnson & Johnson, UHS inc., and Merck Animal Health and has reached over 300 students across two high schools. She is also the founder of her local nonprofit, Scars2Love. She individually creates and donates her Bags of Love to children who are burn survivors to help lessen the burden on them and their families. She also advocates for refugee rights through international agencies such as ADRA and UNICEF. Zheng recently won ADRA’s international art competition; she donated her €200 prize to buy school supplies for students in Slovakia to help ADRA’s efforts. She also works closely with UNHCR; she was chosen out of 1000 people worldwide to be a Global Young Champion. She meets with UNHCR leaders to discuss possible solutions to implement change and help get the youth involved. She is also a YOUNGA global delegate, meeting with celebrity activists and leaders to help uphold UN Sustainability goals.

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