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10 NRIs in race for White House Fellowships

WASHINGTON, March 11 2005

Ten South Asian Americans, most of them of Indian origin, are among 108 regional finalists for the 2005-06 White House Fellows Programme - one of the US' most prestigious programmes for leadership and public service.

The regional finalists are selected from approximately 1,000 applicants nationwide, and represent a broad cross-section of professions including business, education, healthcare, finance, law, local and state government, and non-profit. Five branches of the military are also represented among the regional finalists.

The list was announced late last month.

The South Asian finalists in this year's list include:

*Abdul Shukoor Ahmed, chief executive officer, V-Empower, Inc., Bowie, MD;

*Kavita Bali, graduate student, London School of Economics, Lompoc, CA;

*Ravin Gandhi, president and founder, Glenborn Partners, L.P., Waukegan, IL;

*Anjali Jain, clinical editor, BMJ Publishing Group, Springfield, VA;

*Vivek Mohta, visiting scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northville, MI;

*Thomas A. Neyarapally, associate attorney, Frommer, Lawrence & Haug LLP, Mystic, CT;

*Koushik Shiek Pal, graduate student, Harvard University, Muncie, IN;

*Anand Kamlesh Parekh, physician, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Detroit, MI;

*Kavita Krishnakant Patel, physician, Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar, San Antonio, TX;

*Ramesh Subramani, physician and associate professor, Northwestern University Memorial Hospital, Chicago, IL.

In the final cut, only 11 to 19 fellows go one to receive the award that was founded in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Selection as a White House fellow is highly competitive and based on a record of remarkable professional achievement early in one's career, evidence of leadership skills, a strong commitment to public service, and the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute successfully at the highest levels of the federal government, according to the White House.

Some famous people who have got this fellowship include former secretary of state Colin Powell, secretary of labour Elaine Chao, former CNN president Tom Johnson, American Red Cross president Marsha Evans, United Nations Foundation president and former US senator Timothy Wirth and US Senator Samuel Brownback.

The nearly 600 alumni of the programme have gone on to become leaders in many fields.

The initial 1,000 or so applicants are screened down to a smaller number who then get interviewed by eight to 10 regional panels, which are composed of prominent local citizens. The regional panels select approximately 30 candidates to proceed as national finalists.

All national finalists are required to undergo comprehensive background investigations to ensure that they qualify for the security clearance necessary for their fellowship work assignments.

Every year, the President's Commission on White House Fellowships, which is composed of around 30 outstanding citizens who represent a broad range of backgrounds, interests, and professions, selects a class of White House Fellows.

Members of the commission are appointed by the president; some have served through several administrations and some are former fellows.

During selection weekend, the President's Commission on White House Fellowships interviews finalists at a location near Washington, DC. After spending selection weekend interviewing, interacting with, and observing the national finalists, the commission recommends those individuals it finds most qualified for the fellowship to the president for appointment as White House Fellows.

Applicants all have to be US citizens, should not be federal employees unless they are career military personnel, they should have completed their undergraduate education and be working in their chosen professions.

The winners get first-hand experience working at the highest levels of the federal government and also participate in an education programme consisting of roundtable discussions with renowned leaders from the private and public sectors, as well as trips to study US policy in action both domestically and internationally.(IANS)

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