Student Scholarship Award recipients

India Association of Minnesota (IAM), each year, grants Student Fellowship Award to Minnesota based High School students. This scholarship recognizes graduating students who demonstrate leadership & community involvement within the Asian Indian Community

We received several applications representing a diverse group of young smart and talented students who we feel will represent our community well in the years to come. The selection committee has taken careful consideration in reviewing this year’s impressive and diverse pool of applicants. We thank all the applicants for their participation and wish all a bright future.

Here are 2015 Award Recipients...


amrita mohanty tapan priyanka ishita Vishwa
Tarunika Anand Amrita Mohanty Tapan Jasthi Priyanka Shetty Ishita Kamboj Vishwa Patel

Tarunika Anand


Tarunika graduated from Woodbury High School in 2015 with Summa Cum Laude honors and the National Honors Society’s Senior with Distinction award. As a National Merit Finalist, AP Scholar with Distinction, three-time National Honors Society Letter recipient, and two-time Key Club Letter recipient, Tarunika has shown her commitment to academics and service throughout her high school career. In addition to school-related service activities, she has been a Youth Leader at the Minnesota Children’s Museum, and volunteered at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Center, St. Paul Children’s Hospital, and SILC. Tarunika has been a youth ambassador and volunteer coordinator for Be the Match of the National Marrow Donor Program for five years, and a U.S. ambassador for a non-profit school in India called Gurukulam for four years. She was recently named as the official Sponsorship Coordinator and Social Media Manager for Gurukulam. At SILC, Tarunika created and directed her first professional fundraising event called United Through Dance, which raised enough funds for a year’s worth of tuition for fourteen students at Gurukulam. Tarunika has continuously grown her passion for the arts, as a piano player of ten years, Bharatnatyam dancer of thirteen years, and trained singer of eight years. Her acclamations include being a two-time winner of the MMTA State piano contest, earning a Superior Rating for Piano Solo in the Minnesota Federation Festival for seven years, completing her dance solo debut or “Salangai Pooja” in 2013, and performing for “tpt Minnesota”. She explored medicine by researching the Meta-Analysis of MRSA with the guidance of Dr. Edward Kaplan from the University of Minnesota. Tarunika will be attending Emory University in Georgia as an Oxford Scholar with a half-tuition scholarship. She hopes to pursue a liberal arts education as a pre-med student with an English and Creative Writing major and East Asian Studies minor.


Amrita Mohanty

amrita mohanty

Amrita graduated as one of the top students at Woodbury High School with the honor of summa cum laude with distinction. In addition, she was named student of the trimester at her high school and held a position on the school district’s youth advisory council. She was president of Woodbury High School’s National Honor Society which is one of the school’s largest organizations. Additionally, she was president of the non-profit organization Schools4Schools which raises money for a school in Uganda. For the past two years she has been named an Intel International Science and Engineering Fair finalist and has been named a Minnesota Scholar of Distinction in Science and a Minnesota Scholar of Distinction in Social Studies. Amrita traveled to Peru last summer through the U.S. State Department American Youth Leadership Program where she was able to research global food security issues. As a musician, she participated in the Minnesota All State Orchestra as a first violin. Amrita worked as a young reporter for Minnesota Public Radio and wrote about her parents’ immigration from India. Her story aired nationwide on the radio during the segment All Things Considered and is published on the MPR website.

Amrita participates within her Indian community by volunteering at events and accompanying cultural acts with her violin. Amrita excels in athletics, participating on her high school’s soccer team as well as on the Twin Cities Fire Soccer Club competitive team. Along with volunteering at Woodwinds Hospital and the Science Museum of Minnesota, she has been able to work in a research lab at the MN Stem Cell Institute. Through her research she has earned many accolades such as the Minnesota Academy of Science STEM Communicator Award and the American Academy of Neurology Neuroscience Research Prize.

Amrita will attend Harvard University this fall


Tapan Jasthi

tapanTapan is a White Bear Lake High School graduate, class of 2015. Throughout his school years, he showed excellence in academics and actively participated in and out of school activities.
He is actively involved in his community and has shown positive leadership within his school. He spends much of his time volunteering at many school funds and events for the national honor society, student council and ambassadors. Tapan has actively involved on his school’s math team and debate team. He also has played trombone in the school concert, jazz and pep band. Outside school, he played piano for eight years.
In his senior year, Tapan has been his student council president and organized many projects to benefit his school and community. He is respected by his peers and mentors and was voted to be the Homecoming King of White Bear Lake High School this past year.
In the community, he has volunteered his time to Boy Scouts and received their highest rank "Eagle Scout". Outside of school, he volunteers at the front desk in Saint John’s Hospital and also plays piano for the residents at the Ramsey County Care Center. He also has been an active volunteer and naturalist at Tamarack Nature Center.
Tapan has involved in SILC (School of Indian Languages and Cultures) for the past eight years and volunteers at many events within the Indian community.
In addition to outstanding involvement, he has been a top academic student and has been placed on A-Honor roll all four years. He is also a graduate of the UMTYMP (University of Minnesota Talented Youth Math Program) program. Tapan has earned nearly 40 college credits through AP classes, CIS, PLTW, PSEO, and UMTYMP. Next year, he will be attending University of California, Berkeley where he will study Math and Science.  



Priyanka Shetty

priyankaPriyanka graduated with Honors from Eden Prairie High School and was one of the three selected Commencement speakers at her graduation. She held several leadership positions in her activities. She was voted the Captain of her Speech team both her Junior and Senior Year. She also made it to the State Tournament for Speech, qualified twice for NIETOC, a national speech tournament and participated in NCFL, another national speech tournament. She was also the Event Coordinator Officer of her school’s Youth In Government Club. She was a National AP Scholar and a member of the National Honors Society. Along with her school accomplishments, she also participated in many other activities. She has been a Bharatanatyam dancer for the Sanskriti Dance School for the past years, and just completed her Arangetram. She has also played piano for the past eleven years. One of her biggest passions is volunteering. As a Girl Scout, she has completed her Girl Scout Bronze Award, where she organized a drive for the local humane society, her Girl Scout Silver Award, where she helped create free technology classes at her local library for senior citizens, and is completing her Gold Award currently. She has been working with the SEWA-AIFW organization, and is the founder of the SEWA Youth Volunteer Group and has recruited youth to help with a variety of events held by SEWA. She will be attending Brown University in Rhode Island this fall, planning on pursuing a degree in Cognitive Neuroscience with an emphasis on Linguistics and following the pre-med track.



Ishita Kamboj


Ishita Kamboj graduated from Wayzata High School with National Honors Society recognition in May 2015. In high school, she participated in policy debate, competing in varsity debate as a team Captain during her senior year; she received multiple state and national awards for her accomplishments in debate, including winning the MN Novice State Championship in 2012 and gaining a bid to the National Tournament of Champions in 2014. She also has been working in a Department of Surgery lab at the U of M, where she studies the neuro-immunological consequences of methamphetamine on HIV+ drug abusers. Her research was evaluated by US Navy, Army, and Air Force science professionals at the National Junior Science & Humanities Symposium in 2015, and was chosen among the top 8 presentations from submissions throughout the US and Europe.
Outside of these educational activities, Ishita has served as a Youth Camp Leader at the Hindu Mandir for the past several years, and has been dancing ballet, tap, and jazz for 15 years. She also enjoys martial arts, and has a Black Belt in Karate. Within her interest areas, Ishita has devoted a significant amount of time into teaching and volunteering. She has taught karate, speech & debate, writing, and STEM subjects for elementary and middle-school children, as well as volunteered for the MN Microscopy Society, North Suburban Summer Academy, and organized a clothing drive to send clothes to slums in New Delhi, India. She was awarded the Gold Presidential Service Award twice during high school for devoting over 250 hours to service in one year.
This fall, Ishita will attend the University of Minnesota’s College of Science & Engineering. She will pursue a major in Materials Science & Engineering with a plan to go into engineering management and policy in the future



Vishwa Patel


Vishwa is a 2014 graduate from Wayzata High School, and an upcoming sophomore at St. Olaf College. While at Wayzata, she has taken 6 AP classes which have granted me the AP Scholar award and have also had the privilege of being on the National Honor Society. Since graduating in 2014, she completed her first year at St. Olaf College where she was one of 200 freshmen and sophomores nominated for the Emerging Leader Award where St. Olaf recognizes outstanding leadership efforts through nominations from the campus community.
In life, her passion for helping others has always motivated her. From helping out within the Oncology and Pediatrics center at the Fairview Medical Center in Maple Grove during her high school years or currently being a guest services greeter at the Maple Grove Hospital. Since 2010, she has been a group 0 and now a group 1 leader at the BAPS Temple where she teaches young girls ages 3-9 about the Hindu culture, religion and the language Gujarati. Even her passion for dance and knowledge of various Indian classical dance styles of Bharatnatyam and Kathak has allowed her to help, by choreographing traditional dances for young girls to perform at the festivals at BAPS Temple. At college, she is also a TRIO Mentor where they write letters to high schools students every week and provide academic and personal support and guidance to help them get into college. Vishwa's service in high school has allowed her to achieve the Presidential Volunteer Gold Service Award for completing over 250+ hours of service.

She hopes to continue to pursue a Biology major and follow the pre-med track at St. Olaf and medical school in the future and that her drive and passion for helping others continues to escalates.




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