Against all odds

To say that Samarth Kalra’s academic journey has been challenging is an understatement. He grew up in Pathankot, a small rural town in northern India where 24/7 electricity and Internet access is still a dream. A lack of both resources and finances prevented him from participating in science and technology enrichment activities. To all outward appearances, Samarth was limited by his circumstances.

But the challenges did not deter Samarth from pursuing his passion for science and technology. He made a brave decision in 9th grade to leave his family and live independently in the city of Chandigarh to avail of better opportunities. Here, he affiliated himself with Panjab University’s physics department where he worked on an upgrade project for CERN’s Compact Muon Solenoid. Samarth was the youngest member on this team of brilliant minds, and he wasted no time imbibing their knowledge!

In 11th grade, Samarth had to return to Pathankot. Remarkably, he decided not to give up on the project in Chandigarh. So, every weekend Samarth would take a 10-hour long bus journey from Pathankot to Chandigarh, making sure to be back in his hometown in the early hours of Monday morning to go to school.

Samarth’s efforts have not been in vain. He was accepted to Vanderbilt University, USA on a full scholarship! He advises prospective applicants to be positive, work hard and take the time to write essays that are personal and compelling.

– Samarth Karla, Vanderbilt University

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