IASF Awards 18 Graduating Seniors At Annual Banquet
The India American Cultural Association (IACA), held its 12th annual graduating seniors banquet at the Hilton Atlanta North East, on June 6. The function was organized by Dr. Suvrat Bhargave, chairman of the India American Scholarship Fund (IASF), and Dr. Anuj Manocha, with the support of Dr. P. Ravi Sarma, founder and past chairman of IASF, and other IASF committee members. The chief guest and keynote speaker was Suchita Vadlamani, co-host of Fox 5's, Good Day Atlanta.
Dr. Manocha welcomed all and gave a brief history of IASF. The fund was established in 1993, under the chairmanship of Dr. Sarma, to serve the educational needs of the Asian Indian community, he said. Over the past 11 years, it has awarded over 135 college scholarships, totaling over $125,000 to high school seniors who would be attending an accredited four-year college and university. It has thus lived up to its motto, "Honoring excellence in learning", he added. "The awards are one-year and four-year scholarships that are based on financial need, academic merit, SAT score, extracurricular merit and community service. The ?Best Essay' winners are also awarded one-year scholarships," he said.
The ?Class of 2004' he said, was an exceptional group of highly talented young men and women by any measure. Choosing 18 awardees out of 50 applicants was a Herculean task. The ?Class of 2004' included three valedictorians, two salutatorians and over half of the seniors placed in the top 10% of their class. In addition, 11 students scored over 1500 and 25 scored over 1400 on their SAT scores. The national SAT average is only 1049 and the Georgia average 984. The average of the applicants of the IASF was 1354.
In his brief address, Dr. Ravi Sarma complimented the current IASF team of locally born and raised generation for doing a superb job in vigorously managing the fund and raising it to a new level, proved by the fact that in its 12th year a record amount of $30,000 has been handed out in scholarships. He concluded by exhorting all to donate generously to the Fund.
Dr. Suvrat Bhargave, in his address, described IASF as a jewel in the crown of IACA's diverse outreach activities. ?IASF is a perfect example of people of different backgrounds exchanging ideas in a rare spirit of camaraderie and open communications in furthering the cause of education in the community', he said.
IACA president Paddy Sharma appealed to the Indian community to unite and help the younger generation excel in all walks of life. She advised the "Class of 2004", to "take all the good values of the country you or your parents came from to the country you are now living in and do your best in whatever you set out to do."
Vadlamani greeted and handed a gift bag to each member of the ?Class of 2004'. She lightened up the proceedings with her amusing recollections of college days. When she was moving to University of Chicago, like other solicitous parents, her parents too worried whether or not she would be fed, keep warm in Chicago's cold winters, have comfortable room in the dorm, and so on. Her father even hired a Ryder truck to move all her stuff to the dorm! "It was as if I was moving to China!" she chuckled. On a serious note, she had some words of advice and inspiration for the senior graduates, "Be true to yourself. Be positive. Be bold and walk on untrodden paths. (I was hoping to do Science and be an attorney but ended up being a broadcaster!) Be cultural ambassadors. Be proud of your rich culture and heritage and share it with fellow-students, professors and peers. Involve yourself in community activities. Reach out and give back. Soar upwards and upwards." she concluded amid loud applause.
Amit Momaya, son of Mukesh and Meena Momaya, a recipient of ?The P.V.Jagannathan Rao, M.D. Memorial Award' for 2003, presented by the Ravi Sarma family, expressed his gratitude for the award which has helped him study at the Duke University. Amit is a second year student in Bio-Medical Engineering, and also editor of the Duke Engineering magazine.
?The Class of 2004', like the late President Reagan, can proudly assert, "We have every right to dream heroic dreams."
-By Mahadev Desai
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