LONG BEACH, CA - Preetam Soundararajan of San Diego with a perfect SAT score won the top award and revolving trophy in the high school category at the 28th annual Indian American Heritage Foundation awards function on April 20. Titash Biswas won the top award in the Middle school category.
The ceremony began with cultural performances by the youth . Classical dances along with a mixture of classical music and Bollywood style performances brightened the evening. Vamsi Mokkapati presented a short Carnatic classical piece while Archana Sivanandam presented a Bharat Natyam performance and Titash Biswas a Odissi Classical dance. Amogha Koka performed Bharat Natyam. Suraj Srivats played the saxophone and Anjli Gandhi presented an upbeat Bollywood dance. At the end of each item, the performers received sustained applause for their very lively performance. Kewal Kanda and Ajmer Singh managed the stage and emceed the cultural extravaganza.
Chief Guest Dr. K.J. Srinivasa, Deputy Consul General of India, San Francisco congratulated all the youth and stressed the importance of having a proper education in life. The keynote speaker Professor Bala Sardesai from UCLA pointed out the historical significance of the event as well as the world footprint India has cemented in the field of education. His speech was very motivational and touched several hearts.
While accepting the award, Soundararajan thanked his family and all the organizers for the recognition and informed the audience that he will be attending Harvard University in the fall.
Inder Singh, Foundation president thanked all the sponsors who provided necessary funding for the continuity of the awards .He particularly thanked the judges – Kavita Puri, Harbir Hayreh, Ajmer Singh, Aparna Hande, Ajay Gupta, Rami Madan, Vineet Puri, Simi Singh, and Vasant Iyer – who undertook the grueling task of evaluating the applicants. He praised his ‘working crew’, his team of volunteers, who have been working hard to make the event a success. He said, “An individual, howsoever brilliant, intelligent and smart, would find it difficult, if not impossible to match the collaborative efforts of an effective team and I am blessed with a team which has been providing selfless service for the cause of our youth.” His team included Abdulgani Shaikh, Ashok Madan, Deepi Singh, Kewal Kanda, V.J. Singh, and Ramjibhai Patel.
The other winners in the high school category were Bharath Mohan , Apoorva Mylavarapu , Priya Kumar, Sneha Chidambaram , Sonul Gupta and Prabhjot Kaur Grewal . The second place winner in the middle school category this year, was Suraj Srivats while the third place winner was Karishma Muthukumar. The fourth and fifth awards went to Amogha Koka and Georgi Thomas respectively. Titash Biswas and Anjli Gandhi won the Visual and Performing Arts awards .
Top awardee Preetam Soundararajan and Simran Grover shared the Outstanding Achievement Award and revolving trophy in community service. Sneha Chidambaram won the Outstanding Achievement Award in Sports. Sneha also received the revolving trophy for excellence in sports. Apoorva Mylavarapu won the Outstanding Achievement Award and revolving trophy in Math, Science and Technology. Vamsi Mokkapati won the award and revolving trophy in Visual & Performing Arts.
The Indian American Heritage Foundation has been recognizing the achievements of Indian Youth, graduating from High and Middle Schools in Southern California for the past 28 years. The Foundation started with eight scholarship awards and now 20 scholarships are given. All the sponsors and donors were introduced through a Power Point presentation by Simi Singh.