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This column continues to highlight South Asians whose achievements, awards, and laurels have added to the community’s wealth of talent. Here is a brief roundup of a few more go-getters who give an inspiring start to the new year.

It’s hard enough working towards top scores in one exam. But Maruti Didwania’s cumulative scores from eight exams placed at the top in advanced placement math and science courses. And he received nothing short of top honors for his achievement. Didwania was awarded the Siemens Award for Advanced Placement, which includes a $3,000 scholarship for college.

Didwania is currently a senior at University City High School, San Diego. How did he do it? “I was quite surprised when I won,” says Didwania modestly. In fact, he didn’t even expect he would be in the top 24. For him, it was schoolwork as usual with a regular study schedule. Didwania hasn’t decided what career to pursue although he is interested in exploring opportunities in science, engineering, academics, and business.


Mausam Damania was one of thousands who applied, but one of the few chosen to re-ceive the 2003 Alumni Leadership Scholarship awarded by the California Alumni Association. Damani is a sophomore at UC Berkeley, where she is studying both molecular and cell biology, and public health. “I am thrilled … to know that I was competing against so many amazing students and was eventually selected for this honor,” said Damani. Among the many accomplishments that earned her the scholarship are her position on the board of Hindu Students Council, her editing for the Berkeley Scientific Journal, membership in honors societies, and continuous commitment to volunteer work all while juggling commitments to academics and a part-time job.

Established in 1934, the Alumni Leadership Scholarship has become one of the largest and most prestigious scholarship programs in the UC system. Individual scholarship awards range from $1,000 to $5,000, resulting in a total alumni gift of $1 million. The organization believes that the awards are not only a way of helping out their school, but also a way of investing in the future through bright, promising leaders in the upcoming generation.