UpakarIndian-American Scholarship Foundation

2013 Scholarship Announcement

July 29, 2013


Community college award unveiled for deserving Indian-American students

Upakar Foundation today proudly announces its 2013 scholarship awardees. This year’s five recipients: Aiman Syeda of West Henrietta, New York; Parteek Singh of Yuba City, California; Rini Sinha of Pflugerville, Texas; Sarwat Siddiqui of Staten Island, New York; and Tamara Layden of Milwaukie, Oregon. The class of 2017, including Upakar’s first-ever community college awardee, joins fourteen other Upakar scholars who will be renewed for the 2013-14 school year.

“Welcome to the Upakar family, class of 2017,” Executive Vice President Nirupma Rohatgi said. “We are proud to support these five students over the next four years and beyond. Reading their stories and learning about their hopes and dreams gives just a glimpse of Upakar’s contributions.”

Upakar was founded in 1997 in the Washington, DC metropolitan area to combat the stereotype that every Indian-American child can afford a four-year college education. According to 2012 data, one in twelve Indian-Americans lives below the poverty line, which is an annual income of barely $23,000 for a family of four.

“Upakar has remained true to its core mission for sixteen years: promoting academic excellence in the face of financial challenges,” Treasurer Nithya Nagarajan said. “Other organizations have come and gone, but Upakar continues to promote the next generation of Indian-American leaders. The cost of higher education is rising, the need is growing, and Upakar is in it for the long haul.”

Upakar has awarded 123 scholarships to students born in India or who have at least one Indian-born parent. The scholar must be a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder. Financial need is determined by family adjusted gross income (AGI). Scholars must have attained a raw high school grade point average above 3.6. Finally, as long as a scholar’s grades exceed 3.3 in college, Upakar will renew the scholarship for four years.

“Upakar is proud to expand its reach through the community college scholarships,” President Jyotsna Gupta Jalil said. “As Upakar enters its second fifteen years, it must evolve to meet the needs of future scholars. We look forward to supporting our best and brightest as they pursue higher education.”

Biographies of this year’s five recipients are below:

Aiman Syeda of West Henrietta, New York was the valedictorian of her high school class of 450 students. She received numerous community service awards and was a member of the French Honor Society. Aiman will be attending the Rochester Institute of Technology to pursue a career as a physician’s assistant.

Parteek Singh of Yuba City, California graduated in the top three percent of his high school class. He started a chapter of the National Honor Society at his high school and volunteered for the Red Cross and UNICEF. Parteek will be attending the University of California, Davis to study biochemistry.

Rini Sinha of Pflugerville, Texas earned a 4.0 grade point average in high school. She held leadership positions in the school newspaper and Business Professionals of America and was involved in a mentoring program. Rini will be attending the University of Texas at Austin to study mechanical engineering.

Sarwat Siddiqui of Staten Island, New York excelled educationally in high school, earning a 4.0 grade point average. She overcame the destruction of her home by Hurricane Sandy to achieve academic honors. Sarwat will be attending Fordham University to study neuroscience.

Tamara Layden of Milwaukie, Oregon compiled a 4.0 grade point average in high school. She worked for the Audubon Society of Portland in pursuit of her ambition to become a conservation biologist. Tamara is Upakar’s first-ever community college scholar and will be attending Clackamas (Oregon) Community College to pursue an Associate of Arts degree.

Applications for the 2014-15 academic year will be available this fall. The submission deadline for all scholarships will be no later than May 1.