Perfect SAT Scorer Gets Top Heritage Award
Long Beach, April 29, 2012
: In a glittering ceremony at Hilton Hotel, Long Beach, Nehaly Shah of Riverside with perfect score in ACT (SAT) won the top award and revolving trophy in the high school category at the 26th annual Indian American Heritage Foundation awards function. The award has been instituted by Sanjiv Chopra in memory of his father Kishan Gopal Chopra and was presented to the winner by Uma and Avadhesh Agrawal, a prominent businessman and event co-sponsor. Ashok Madan and his wife Manju presented the revolving trophy “Profiles in Excellence” instituted in memory of Ashok’s parents, Thakar Singh and Shanti Rani Madan. Ashwin Ramaswamy of Irvine won the top award in Middle school category. Dr. Awtar Singh who instituted the award and a revolving trophy in memory of his late wife, Teji Singh, presented the award and trophy to the winner.
The second place winner in high school category was Maansi Shah of Palmdale while the third place winner was Sulekha Ramayya of Rancho Palos Verde. The next six winners were Rohan Rastogi of Irvine, Meera Midha of Huntington Beach, Neera Shah of Riverside, Abinaya Thenappan of Cerritos, Gautam Soundararajan of San Diego and Labdhi Sheth of Norwalk. Incidentally, five of the awardees, namely Meera Midha, Mansi Shah, Gautam Soundararjan, Neera Shah and Nehaley Shah were also the winners in the middle school category in 2008. The second place winner in the middle school category this year, was Megan Kotrappa while the third place winner was Kanhai Shah. The fourth and fifth place winners were Megan Phansalkar and Kirti Kumar respectively. Sneha Krish won the Visual and Performing Arts award instituted by Mollie Rachna Singh in honor of “Teachers, parents and family.”
The top awardee Nehaly Shah and her sister Neera Shah jointly won the Outstanding Achievement Award and revolving trophy in Math, Science and Technology instituted by Dr. Mani Bhaumik in recognition of the “most important numeral ZERO invented in India.” Gautam Soundararajan of San Diego won the Outstanding Achievement Award and revolving trophy in community service instituted by Dr. Rajesh Kadakia in memory of Maniben Manilal Kadakia. Labdhi Sheth and Shyamolee Desai shared the award in Visual & Performing Arts and will keep the revolving trophy for six months each. The award and trophy has been instituted by Kumar Jawa of India Sweets and Spices, in memory of his father, Jiwan Dass Jawa. Anand Panchal of West Covina won the Outstanding Achievement Award in Sports instituted by Jack Khangura in memory of his wife Rajinder Khangura. Anand also received revolving trophy for excellence in sports instituted by Dr. M.C. Gupta of Corona in memory of his father Shri RBL Gupta. Other sponsors who attended the annual event and presented awards to the young winners included Hotlier Sunil Tolani, IT professionals VJ & Simi Singh and Dr Satinder Bhatia. Donors Vas Arora, Munish Makkar and Nishat Ahmed also presented the awards.
The Indian American Heritage Foundation has been recognizing the achievements of Indian Youth, graduating from High and Middle Schools in Southern California for the past 26 years. The Foundation is the leading Indian American organization in the USA to publicly recognize, reward and celebrate excellence of the community’s best and brightest graduating students in Southern California. Dr. Rajen Anand who has been part of the Heritage Foundation for a long time and is currently heading nutrition agency of USDA was the chief guest while Dr. M.C Gupta long time sponsor of the event, delivered the keynote address.
The Foundation started with eight scholarship awards and now twenty scholarships are given -- nine academic excellence awards ranging from $2000 to $500 in the high school category, five ranging from $500 to $100 in the junior high/middle school category, four of $500 each for Outstanding Achievement Awards in math and science, sports, community service, visual and performing arts in high school category and one of $250 in visual and performing arts for the middle school category. Applicants with perfect score in SAT and Quiz also get $100 each.
To qualify for the awards, the applicants must have GPA equal to B or higher, at least one parent of Indian origin, and be a graduate from a Southern California school. For high school category, GPA and SAT were evaluated at 70 percent while extra-curricular activities and quiz on India and Indian Americans were each evaluated at 15 percent.
The annual event has been made possible with the committed support of some well meaning people from the community including Ashok & Manju Madan, Dr.Awtar Singh, Dr. M.C & Usha Gupta, VJ & Simi Singh, Dr. C. R. Viswanathan, Harbhajan Singh Samra, Jagdish Khangura, Kumar Jawa of India Sweets & Spices, Dr. M.L. Bhaumik, Mollie Rachna Singh, Dr. Rajesh Kadakia, Sanjiv & Renu Chopra, Dr. Satinder–Ranjit Bhatia, Uma-Avadesh Agarwal and BU Patel. This year, businessman Sunil Tolani also became a co-sponsor. Three donors, Munish Makkar of Ambala Cash and Carry, Vas and Kusum Arora and Nishat Ahmed supported the event. All the sponsors were introduced through a Power Point presentation by Simi Singh and Ranjit Bhatia, both co-sponsors along with their spouses.
In the entertainment program, Labdhi Sheth, Shyamolee Desai and Sneha Krish – all winners of Visual and Performing Arts awards – presented five dance items. Mosami Shah, mother of an award winner and a professional singer sang two songs to the delight of the audience. Sneh Krish got long and loud applause for her first item while many people in the audience wanted Mosami to sing more.
Inder Singh, Foundation president thanked all the sponsors who provided necessary funding for the continuity of the awards program. He particularly thanked the panel of judges – Raman Chadha, Sunil Agrawal, Harbir Hayreh and others – who undertook the grueling task of evaluating the applicants. He praised his “working Crew” -- team of volunteers -- who have been working hard to make the event a success. He said, “An individual, howsoever brilliant, intelligent and smart, would find it difficult, if not impossible to match the collaborative efforts of an effective team and he is blessed with a team which has been providing selfless service for the cause of our youth.” His team included Abdulgani Shaikh, Ashok Madan, Deepi Singh, Dr. Mallappa Yerasi, Kewal Kanda, Aparna Hande, Bobby Kumar, Amrit Bhandari, Dilip Butani, Ajmer Singh, Rajinder Dhunna and Yash Singh.