If he wins, the youngest Indian American biomedical engineer wants to contribute for education of children in Afghanistan
By Tannistha Ganguly
Indian American Tanishq Abraham, the youngest biomedical engineer to graduate at 15 and now a PhD candidate at University of California Davis, is in the Top 50 finalists for the $100,000 Global Student Prize.
The international prize is sponsored by the London-based philanthropy organization ‘The Varkey Foundation’ and US-based ‘Chegg.org’, a philanthropy division of Chegg.
This is the inaugural edition and is the sister prize to the $1 million Global Teacher Prize, awarded since 2015. The 50 Global Student Prize finalists come from 30 countries, ranging in ages 17 to 30 years old.
They were shortlisted from more than 3,500 applicants from 94 countries.
“It’s humbling to see that my love for learning and overcoming challenges have inspired others. I am very excited and honored to be one of the Top 50 finalists,” said Sacramento, California, resident Abraham said after hearing the big news.
“Our finalists this year have a made a huge impact in areas from the environment to equality and justice, from health and wellbeing to education and skills, from youth empowerment to ending poverty,” said Lila Thomas, head of Chegg.org.
To be announced at an awards ceremony in Paris in November, the winner will be chosen by the Global Student Prize Academy on the basis of their academic achievement, impact on their peers, and how they make a difference in their community and beyond.
In the last 10 years, overcoming barriers and challenges, Abraham has inspired many around the world through his exemplary educational and scientific achievements at a young age, according to a media release.
Recently, a Madras (India) high court judge used Abraham’s life story and quoted his TEDx talk given when he was 9 years old. The judge said “people should go to university and college when they are ready, not when they are old enough to go,” to win a case for a 16-year-old who was denied college admission.
Abraham’s invaluable contribution to inspiring many students globally, in education and in the area of biomedical engineering research at remarkably young age, was recognized by the Global Student Prize selection committee.
If he wins the Global Student Prize, as he is working to complete his PhD research due to underfunding, he understands what’s it’s like and would like to share part of his award with students who are underfunded to pursue their higher education, the release said.
He will also primarily use the funds to complete his research and travel to international conferences for the purpose of sharing knowledge and promoting learning.
With the recent humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan, Abraham would like to contribute some part of the funds to education of the children there.
“Thank you to all at Varkey Foundation and at Chegg for giving a platform like this to students like me to pursue our passion and change the world in little ways we can,” he said.
“Tanishq Abraham is one of the world’s most remarkable child prodigies,” according to his profile on the Prize’s website. “By six years old, he was taking courses in high school chemistry, physics and biology.”
At 10, he graduated high school with a perfect GPA, and at 11, he graduated junior college with three Associate Degrees. By 15, he earned his biomedical engineering degree with summa cum laude from University of California, Davis, in just two years.
He is now a graduate student in the later stages of the PhD program in biomedical engineering at UC Davis. Abraham plans to become a medical doctor as well as a research scientist – and looks likely to reach his goal at a young age.
However, it hasn’t all been easy. Along the way he faced bullying and unsupportive teachers – and he initially struggled to find professors who would allow him to sit in on or take their courses.
He is the youngest ever member of Phi Beta Kappa. And he has already contributed to scientific research, having co-authored a 30-page chapter in the book Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning in Pathology at the age of 16.