Eastlake senior selected for prestigious scholars program

April 5, 2014

By Neil Pierson

New: April 5, 2:25 p.m.

Less than 1 percent of the nation’s high-school seniors score at least 2,370 on the SAT or 35 on the ACT, the most common tests for measuring college readiness.

Eastlake High School senior Nikhil Auradkar accomplished both tasks.

 Nikhil Auradkar

Nikhil Auradkar

Auradkar was one of three local students whose lofty academic achievements earned them the honor of being nominated for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. Skyline High seniors Samantha Krahling and Crystal Liang were also among the 3,000 national nominees, 67 of them from Washington.

The nominees must submit applications in order to be selected as a national scholar – the program choses up to 141 each year. The Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 to recognize the top high-school seniors, and was expanded in 1979 to include seniors “who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts,” its website states.

The scholars are given an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C. in June, where they tour the city, attend multiple ceremonies and events, and receive a medallion.

Additionally, the scholars select a teacher who has been most influential on their studies, and they’re invited to the recognition ceremony as well.

In Auradkar’s case, he might have difficulty choosing one teacher – he cited Eastlake math teacher Christine Everson and science teacher Brian Wikrent as his inspirations.

“Also, just my peers, because a lot of people I associate with are performing at a pretty high level in school, too,” he noted. “A couple of my friends from Redmond High School got the presidential scholar (nomination) as well.”

While SAT and ACT scores are the primary means of evaluating nominees, results in the classroom also matter, and Auradkar had a 3.9 grade-point average last year.

He doesn’t shy away from a challenge either – he’s currently enrolled in advanced placement courses in statistics and calculus, and has previously taken AP chemistry and U.S. history. His list of extracurricular activities includes stints with the Eastlake track and field, tennis and chess teams.

Auradkar said he was humbled to be the only Eastlake High student to receive a nomination. He credits his parents, Uma and Rahul, for keeping him on track, and teachers like Wikrent.

“He made (AP chemistry) really fun, and he got me really interested in chemistry applying to engineering,” Auradkar said.

Auradkar said he’s been accepted to several colleges; most are in California or on the East Coast, but he’s also considering staying close to home at the University of Washington.

“Right now I’m still kind of deciding where I want to go to based on the strength of their engineering programs,” he said.

“I really have a lot of different interests that are in the engineering area. So my goal is to get into a college that is strong in engineering generally, and then just scope in after I start taking classes and find out what I’m really interested in.”

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