Indian-Americans among “20 under 20” honorees
(Left) Ahalya Ramgopal, 17, The Paideia School.
For a quarter-century, Atlanta INtown has focused on hyperlocal news that helps to strengthen community bonds. One way they achieve that is by picking 20 high-achieving students who give back to the community.
“These 20 students,” as the paper notes, “have accumulated thousands of hours of volunteer time, traveled to other countries, created nonprofits, and worked with the underprivileged as part of their service.”
In 2019, Atlanta INtown’s “20 Under 20” list includes the following Indian-American students: Ahalya Ramgopal, 17 (top left), The Paideia School; Anup Bottu, 16 (bottom left), The Westminster Schools; and Roshni Shah, 17 (bottom right), Woodward Academy.
Ahalya Ramgopal has been a tireless advocate for refugees in the Atlanta community since she was 14 when she began volunteering at the International Rescue Committee. As a volunteer, she teaches English, civics and history to newly arrived refugees to help prepare them for the citizenship test. During her junior year, she interned in the IRC Communications Department, working on social media advocacy and marketing. As the only high-school intern, she won the Intern fundraising competition at the end of the fall semester, raising over $750. In total, she has worked over the 500 hours for the IRC. She also volunteered for the Jon Ossoff campaign to try and enact change through Congress. “During my first summer volunteering with the IRC, I worked with a young man in his 20s from Iraq. We worked together through the class for two-and-a-half hours; I taught him new words through drawing photos on the whiteboard or acting them out. When the verb singing came up, he told me that he in fact, was a winner of Arab Idol!”
Anup Bottu (left), 16; Zander Kasabian, 17; and Daven Yadav, 16 The Westminster Schools: These three Westminster juniors created START, Inc. (Science to Action Road Trips), a nonprofit that offers experiential learning opportunities to students who might not otherwise receive them. Instead of the traditional method of teaching, Anup, Daven, and Zander embrace hands-on learning and ask kids to connect math and science with their own lives, building positive connections between science and fun in their brains. Last year, they took 70 students at Scott Elementary to Sky Zone where they bounced on the trampolines and embraced Newton’s laws of physics. The group looks to build on that success this year with five field trips – involving more 320 elementary school students – to places like SkyZone and iFly, making science come to life for the students they work with. Daven said it has been “heartwarming” to see how excited the young students are to connect having fun with learning about science. “The fact that kids can learn for fun fascinated and continued to drive my passion for my volunteering,” Zander said. Anup described meeting a mischievous student at Scott Elementary who had trouble with tests, but was passionate about learning. Anup recognized that the student’s desire to learn was being squashed by punishment and said it gave him a clear view of the current educational system he hopes to correct.
Roshni Shah serves on the My Mind Matters leadership board, an organization that helps high school students that are struggling with mental challenges, and volunteers regularly with The Nicholas House, which provides dinners to women who are domestically abused, and at Northside Hospital. For the past four years, Roshni has worked with Blessings in a Backpack, which provides meals to underprivileged children. She also makes time for the local Indian community, teaching culture and dance to young Indian children. “My most memorable moments come during my time at The Nicholas House and as a volunteer at Northside Hospital. The Nicholas House gives me an opportunity to have a small impact and help the women and children there with something as simple as cooking and serving dinner. At Northside Hospital, my job was simply to transport patients out of the hospital. Although from an outside perspective it seems like a routine task, it gave me the opportunity to talk to the patients and brighten their day in any way possible.”
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