A Lucknow boy has secured 100% scholarship worth at least Rs 2 crore to pursue a course in engineering in computer science and physics at the University of Pennsylvania - an Ivy league university rated among top 8 universities of the world.
“It is an overwhelming feeling to win a scholarship ... And that too from a coveted university like Pennsylvania,” Lakshay Sharma told Hindustan Times on Tuesday.
Like thousands of students, Sharma took admission into a training institute in Rajasthan’s Kota to get into the coveted Indian Institutes of Technology. But he soon shifted his goal post and decided to compete for admission to universities across the world and not just in India.
He then set about the task of building his profile for admission to a top-ranked university in the United States and was mentored by Sanjeev Pandey. An alumnus of City Montessori School in Gomti Nagar, Sharma said he has been preparing for the admission process since he was in Class 10.
“When I was in grade 10, I had the good fortune of coming into contact with Sanjeev Sir, who advised me on applying to US universities. He became my mentor and guided me in my preparation for the standardised tests needed for admission to the most selective universities. He gave me especially rigorous training for the ACT,” the 17-year-old said.
Striking a balance between academics and the application process is key to his success, Sharma claimed while explaining the application process, which he said is very holistic and involves writing up tons of essays, to universities in the US.
“I had to complete my application to the US universities while simultaneously preparing for 11th and 12th grades, studying for the JEE and other competitive exams and participating in international Olympiads such as International Junior Science Olympiad (IJSO) 2015, and the International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA) 2016,” he said.
Sharma managed to “strike a fine balance” between all these by dividing his time well.
“Consequently, I won a gold medal in the IJSO 2015, a bronze medal in the IOAA 2015, achieved All India Rank 13 in the Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana (KVPY) and also got full scores in the standardised tests like ACT, all three SAT subject tests and all three AP exams.”
Sharma secured a perfect 800 score in three SAT subject tests (physics, chemistry and mathematics II), an ACT composite score of 35 out of 36, TOEFL score of 115 out of 120.
“We are proud to have identified, groomed and polished this gem for the world. Lakshay has proved his ability to compete with the best minds across the world,” Pandey, his mentor at USA UnivQuest, said.
Sharma enjoys gazing at stars since his childhood and the fascination has evolved over the years into a passion.
“I enjoy the beautiful sights of galaxies and nebulae in the eyepiece of my telescope, especially the Orion Nebula with its gossamer tendrils and vivid colours,” he said.
He also plays the synthesiser and loves to participate in quizzing competitions.
“Playing the synthesiser helps me relax and refresh my mind whenever I get exhausted after studying, and I particularly enjoy playing Bollywood songs on the keyboard. Quizzing is a way for me to sharpen my scientific instincts and speed, and it becomes particularly enjoyable when the competition is tough,” he said.