Aimen Syeda of West Henrietta, New York and Sarwat Siddiqui of Staten Island, New York are among a group of five students to have been named the recipients of the Upkar Foundation scholarships which are given out each year to American students of Indian origin.
Aiman Syeda was the valedictorian of her high school class of 450 students. She received numerous community service awards and was a member of the French Honor Society. Aiman will be attending the Rochester Institute of Technology to pursue a career as a physicianâ€™s assistant.
Sarwat Siddiqui excelled educationally in high school,, earning a 4.0 grade point average. She overcame the destruction of her home by Hurricane Sandy to achieve academic honors. Sarwat will be attending Fordham University to study neuroscience.
Upakar was founded in 1997 in the Washington, DC metropolitan area to combat the stereotype that every Indian-American child can afford a four-year college education. According to 2012 data, one in twelve Indian-Americans lives below the poverty line, which is an annual income of barely $23,000 for a family of four.
â€œUpakar has remained true to its core mission for sixteen years: promoting academic excellence in the face of financial challenges,â€ Treasurer Nithya Nagarajan said. â€œOther organizations have come and gone, but Upakar continues to promote the next generation of Indian-American leaders. The cost of higher education is rising, the need is growing, and Upakar is in it for the long haul.â€