Tag Archives: #civicengagement

Student Run Ecosystem Answers All College Related Questions

What AP courses should I take? APUSH? AP Calculus AB or BC?

What should I do during the summer? A summer program, research, or an internship? 

What is EECS at Berkeley really like?

What are the different career choices in the Biotech field?

What is the college culture like at Columbia?

This endless barrage of questions start running through the minds of every high school student on the first day of 9th grade. We’ve seen similar questions plague our peers, who are also stressed about the ins and outs of college.

We knew that there had to be something we could do to find and share the right answers to these endless questions. In order to solve this pressing need for college mentorship and resources, we founded Leap2College. 

Leap2College is a student-run free platform to help high school students navigate the challenging process of college admissions. We hope to build a community of mentors, provide a comprehensive library of resources, and build an ecosystem of support and lifelong friendships.

We strongly believe that guidance from the right mentor can be vital in choosing the optimal path. We have an amazing group of enthusiastic college students and graduates who have studied at the nation’s top-ranked universities – Stanford, Harvard, UC Berkeley, UCLA, USC, UPenn, CMU, and Columbia to name a few. They are excited to give back to their community and provide high school students with invaluable advice that they wish they had received during their earlier education.  Their advice has led to real change in the lives of the students they’ve helped. Here’s some mentee feedback that highlights how useful mentorship has been for them:

“My mentor was extremely knowledgeable and easy to speak with. He answered all our questions in great detail and the session was very helpful. He guided us in the right direction and gave us very useful feedback about major selections, and other questions that we had.”

“My mentor gave me lots of great advice about college and she was willing to take the time to answer all of my questions, regardless of whether they seemed frivolous or not… She’s perfect!”

“My mentor was able to help me with so much from essays to my resume… she was amazing”

“With my mentor’s help, I was able to decide which clubs I wanted to do. The entire session was pretty good overall!”

In addition to mentorship, our platform provides a comprehensive list of key resources that would benefit any high school student, including information about preparing for SAT/ACT and AP Courses. We have also consolidated a list of scholarships, research opportunities, summer programs, and much more.

Last but not least, we run an interview series where college students and mentors share personal stories of their journey in high school.

Leap2College is accelerating off the ground and we can’t wait to share the untapped knowledge with all of you. If you are an inquisitive high school student with any questions about the college process, please sign up as a mentee at leap2college.org

If you are a college student or graduate and would like to help the community, please sign up to be a mentor at https://www.leap2college.org/mentors.

To keep up with us and to stay updated, follow us @leap2college on all social media platforms.


Utsav Kataria is a sophomore at Lynbrook High School with a strong passion for CS, math, public forum debate, and volunteering. He co-founded Leap2College to empower, motivate, and support high schoolers in their journey to college.

Sejal Rathi is a junior at Lynbrook High School. She is extremely passionate about math, computer science, and enjoys teaching and participating in various competitions. She co-founded Leap2College to help high schoolers navigate their path to college.

Mother’s Wisdom: A Civic Leadership Panel

Ding Ding TV, in partnership with India Currents and Civic Leadership USA (CLUSA), presented the next panel in a series to create a dialogue around how average citizens evolve from their roles as parents to civic leaders. In a panel moderated by Jeff Chow, Associate Vice President at Morgan Stanley, on September 27, 2019,  the attendees of the event and the speakers explored education as a means for entering current community activism. The panelists were Nancy Alvarez , College Access Family Liaison at East Palo Alto Academy; Pragati Grover, former Board member for the Saratoga School District and Team4Tech Operations Manager; and Anjali Kausar, former Board member for the Cupertino School District and current CEO of the Cupertino Chamber of Commerce.

Emcee Vandana Kumar

Three impressive women, mothers, and immigrants are bound together by their thread of passion for education. All three happened upon this mutual interest through their own children. Alvarez, who came from Mexico twenty two years ago, found herself advocating for her children who had been placed in an ESL (English as a Second Language) class. Her children were regressing and falling behind because they were in ESL. She proposed that her decision to pull her kids out of the class eventually benefited them; she has one student at Stanford and one at UC Merced and continues to advocate for the next generation of under-resourced students at East Palo Academy. 

Similarly, Anjali Kausar and Pragati Grover, began working in their children’s classroom and discovered that the teachers faced many difficulties. In order to be proponents of change, both became board members for the school district in their region. Kausar came from Africa thirty years ago and found it hard to navigate the school system. It was when she became entrenched in the school that she found not only a means to support her children but also her identity as an American. Grover shared this sentiment and stated, “One should give their time, not their money” and that “I want to give back because this is my community.” As immigrants, they both found their sense of belonging and identity by being a part of the school system and having a voice in their communities. 

Once the panelists left the stage, we were graced by storytelling through the art of Bharatanatyam by Nirupama Vaidhyanathan. She came with a narrative that continued the message woven throughout the discourse of the night–a narrative of resilience, passion, and social activism. Her first performance was a journey in time to her ancestors who took part in the Salt Satyagraha with Gandhi. Her grandfather protested against the salt tax imposed by the British and had exchanges with other revolutionaries on the caste system, sanitation, and other barriers that Indians were facing under colonial rule.

Vaidhyanathan’s second piece was based on a Tamil poem by Sugathakumari. The poem encapsulated the evils of pollution on the environment and was interspersed with the Indian myth of Shiva churning the ocean to drink the poison created by the evil on Earth. It was clear by the end of the performance that this forum had left an impact on every person in the room.

In a day and age in which civic engagement may seem like a fruitless task, it was wonderful to see engaged and empowered women of color take the stage. One can only hope that the next generation can embody the tenacity of the three women who spoke on the panel. Keep checking in with India Currents to see when the next panel discussion will be and how you can become an engaged leader in your community.