For Urvi Gupta winning awards is not about the name recognition or scholarship money. It’s about connecting to other like-minded students.
“It’s an induction into a community of these individuals that have the same interests,” she said. “Applying for these things, it’s a lot. You have to have another reason. It can’t just be for the money or for the name. It has to be for yourself or to make an impact.”
Gupta, 17, a senior at Seneca Valley Senior High School, is the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships this year. She was named a 2017 Coca-Cola Scholar, for which she will receive a $20,000 college scholarship, a 2017 National Merit Scholar finalist and a 2017 Recognized Carson Scholar. She also received the National Center for Women & Information Technology award for Aspirations in Computing.
She also received a perfect score of 36 on the ACT college-readiness exam, for which she was named a candidate in the 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholars program. For the graduating class of 2016, only 2,235 students out of the about 2.1 million who took the test achieved a 36 composite score on the ACT test, according to an ACT spokesman.
Gupta received her perfect score the second time taking the ACT, an exam that tests students in English, reading, math, science and writing.
“It’s not something that just happens overnight,” she said. “That was really rewarding to see that my long term efforts in pursuing my educational passions really amounted to something that was quantifiable.”
Gupta plans to pursue medicine after graduating from high school, although she hasn’t committed to a school yet. But she’s already gotten her toes wet volunteering at UPMC Passavant Cranberry for the past couple of years. She loves interacting with the patients and hopes her familiarity with hospital life will help her when she gets into it professionally.
Gupta also tutors other students at school and is an active member of Students Against Destructive Decisions.
Minoo Gupta, Urvi’s mother, said her daughter has been a curious and self-motivated child. Even from a young age, Minoo Gupta noticed Urvi was “very insightful and very mature for her age.”
“She chose excellence,” Minoo Gupta said. “We never ever asked her to do this. She chose to do it. Sometimes we have to say, ‘don’t you think this is too much?’ but as long as she’s enjoying herself.”
Urvi Gupta’s teachers praised her motivation, her ability to think deeply and her modesty. Dean Walker, gifted support teacher, said Urvi is an amazing example of “what is possible when genuine curiosity meets intrinsic motivation.”
“Her ability to comprehend difficult concepts is unmatched,” said Amy Palaski, who has Urvi in her AP biology and honors organic and biochemistry courses. “But more than that, it is Urvi’s kindness, compassion and humility that allows her to stand out from the crowd.”
Jim Lucot, AP government and politics teacher, said he’s never had a student as consistent as Urvi Gupta and described her as the “total package.”
“If she gets a test question wrong, I have to revisit my question to make sure that it is fair,” Lucot said. “She is very modest. If you met her, you’d have no idea the caliber that she is.”
She is the daughter of Rajeev and Minoo Gupta.