UpakarIndian-American Scholarship Foundation

2010 Scholarship Announcement

July 29, 2010


Non-profit provides scholarships to Indian-Americans, unveils new web presence

The Upakar Foundation today announced the recipients of its 2010 scholarship awards. This year’s five awardees are Megha Shah of Danbury, CT, Neel Shah of Burlington, MA, Vikas Shahi of Norwalk, CA, Partik Singh of Solon, OH, and Henna Vohra of Harvey, IL. These new Upakar Scholars complement the 15 other Indian-American students who will be renewed for the 2010-11 academic year.

“On behalf of the Upakar Foundation, I congratulate this year’s scholars on their outstanding high school achievements,” Upakar President Nirupma Rohatgi said. “We hope that, with Upakar’s financial and mentorship resources, we can enable them to reach new heights in their chosen profession. Upakar wishes them continued academic and extracurricular successes in the years to come.”

The Upakar Foundation was established in 1997 to address the “model minority” stereotype that allIndian-Americans can afford a college education. Although the community has the highest per-capita income in the United States, around 12% of Indian-Americans live below the poverty line.

Upakar’s mission statement is to “help Indian-American students realize their educational goals by providing annual scholarships that acknowledge academic excellence and consider financial need.” The scholarship program, now in its 12th year, has nurtured excellence in all fields by helping 108 Indian-American students from 30 states to attend college.

“The Upakar Foundation is the first organization of its kind in the Indian-American community,” Upakar Treasurer Nithya Nagarajan said. “It serves as a one-stop shop for talented young scholars to obtain financial aid, internship opportunities, and mentoring. Upakar does not consider family background, residency period, or university rank, so our scholars truly are the best and brightest.”

Upakar scholarships are restricted to students born in India or who have at least one parent who was. The student must be either a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder, and he or she must be enrolling in a four-year undergraduate program at a U.S. college or university. Applicants must demonstrate financial need based on family adjusted gross income, and as part of Upakar’s commitment to target the best and brightest, a cumulative unweighted grade point average above 3.6 is required. Finally, as long as a scholar maintains a cumulative GPA above 3.3, Upakar will renew the scholarship for all four years.

“Upakar selects its scholars based on financial background and personal achievements in high school,”Upakar Vice President Jyotsna Gupta Jalil said. “We are very proud of our high-achieving scholars. Many have been in the United States for less than ten years, and some are the first members of their family to go to college.”

Below are the biographies of this year’s recipients:

Megha Shah of Danbury, CT was recognized as an Advanced Placement Scholar and made the Honor Roll for her academic achievements. Among her pursuits are traditional and modern Indian dance, math tutoring, and volunteer work for the Danbury Public Library and Regional Hospice Center. Megha will be attending Rutgers University and intends to major in pharmacology.

Neel Shah of Burlington, MA has lived in the United States for four years; English is his fourth language. He was involved in the community through volunteer work for the Burlington Public Library and assistance with police training, and in school he served as president of the Multicultural Club and treasurer of the Robotics Club. Neel will be attending Northeastern University and plans to major in engineering.

Vikas Shahi of Norwalk, CA was the valedictorian of his 500-person class. He set a record by running over 1,000 miles in 14 weeks, contributing to all-league honors in cross-country and track and field. He also participated in marching band and jazz ensemble, sang for Soor Sarita, and volunteered at two local temples. Vikas will be attending the University of California, Los Angeles and intends to major in biology.

Partik Singh of Solon, OH was honored as an Advanced Placement and National Merit Scholar for his academic credentials. He was published in Poetic Power Anthology, finished in the top 20 nationwide on a French exam, and wrote a commentary on the original version of Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince. Partik will be attending Case Western Reserve University and plans to enter the pre-med program.

Henna Vohra of Harvey, IL finished high school near the top of her class and boasts excellent academic credentials, earning her the distinction of Athletic Scholar. Her extracurricular activities included speech team, sports writing, National Honor Society, and Students Against Violence Everywhere. Henna will be attending the University of Illinois, Chicago and has not yet settled upon a major.

Scholarship applications for 2011 will be available in January, and the submission deadline will be May 1. To make a donation and learn more about Upakar, please visit our newly remodeled website.