Seniors Navya Kancharla and Srushti Talluri nominated as US Presidential Award Candidates

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Srushti Talluri

Because of their dedication and passion through high school, seniors Navya Kancharla and Srushti Talluri have been nominated as US Presidential Award Candidates.

In late January, Dougherty Valley seniors Navya Kancharla and Srushti Talluri were named U.S. Presidential Scholar Award candidates. The award is nomination-based and highly selective, with only one student in every 8,000 high school seniors becoming a candidate. Out of the approximately 3.6 million seniors across the country, only 121 students are chosen as Scholars for excellence in academics, 20 in arts and 20 in career & technical education.

Senior Navya Kancharla has committed to Duke University through the early decision process. Kancharla’s hard work and ambition, combined with her love for the medical field, have facilitated her position as a U.S. Presidential Scholar candidate.

Kancharla’s passion for the medical field was discovered well into high school through internships, volunteering, and research.

“A lot of this passion came from shadowing,” Kancharla explained. “I would go to see doctors just be amazing at what they do. [They had] these very personal relationships with parents, and that really inspired me to be in their position one day.”

Kancharla has already started to follow in their footsteps through some of her most memorable volunteering experiences.

“My favorite volunteering experience was helping out at a hospice,” Kancharla said. “I spent a lot of time just sitting next to patients during the last moments of their lives. That was something really personal to me, and I think it was really interesting.”

Not only has Kancharla shown her empathy by working directly with patients, she has also expanded her efforts to help others by working on her own research papers.

My biggest piece of advice is that you should just do what you want to do in the moment … don’t do it because someone else is telling you to.

“I’m looking at a research paper on inflammatory bowel disease. The current way to detect inflammatory bowel disease in patients is colonoscopies,” Kancharla explained. “But those are [very] expensive and invasive procedures. So the research I’m working on now is a non-invasive, less expensive procedure of essentially getting the same results.”

Through her research paper, Kancharla has also learned other valuable skills that she believes will help her in her future career path.

“I got to learn the whole research process, learning how to draft a manuscript, important lab skills, [and] data analysis,” Kancharla said.

Though Kancharla’s dedication to the medical field can be seen across many of her major experiences and activities, she hasn’t always been sure of her future path.

“I’ve always been really interested in science in general,” Kancharla said. “But I feel like I wasn’t one of those people that just knew [from early on] that I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up. I think I kind of discovered my passion for medicine in high school.”

According to her long-time best friend and fellow senior Viraj Shivadevini, Kancharla picked up many of her medicine-related activities as she got older. “She really picked up her passions in sophomore and junior year where she started doing various internships and clubs like that,” Shivadevini said.

In the midst of her fellow sophomore peers working on research, internships and summer programs, Kancharla did recall feeling “behind” when compared to her peers in terms of academic rigor. However, from her early years of high school, Kancharla chose her own path.

“Throughout high school, she maintained her route and followed what she wanted,” Shivadevini added.

In the summer of her sophomore year, Kancharla recalls working at a summer camp where she was the only person of Indian origin. From helping the children at the summer program become healthy citizens of the world by exposing them to diversity to creating character-building educational programs, Kancharla has found a passion for helping others.

“It was the best two months of my life. It was like revisiting childhood. Reflecting on it, I feel like it was one of the biggest factors that made me a successful person and a student,” Kancharla remembered.

Though this particular experience of working at a childrens’ summer camp didn’t feel like the right step at the time, in hindsight, Kancharla believes it was important in developing a part of herself.

“I learned a lot of real-world skills, in a sense … It was definitely a big part of my whole story,” she said.

To reassure current and future high school students with uncertainties about the future, Kancharla pulls from her own past experiences and doubts.

“My biggest piece of advice is that you should just do what you want to do in the moment … don’t do it because someone else is telling you to. Don’t think you’re going to regret every mistake or every choice you make,” Kancharla said.

Senior Srushti Talluri has had an insuppressible interest in the medical field and being a doctor. Her activities consist of shadowing and volunteering at clinics, partaking in research, and growing her nonprofit “HeartsThatServe.”

“I was one of the people that came up with the idea for this project that we started a little over a year ago. It’s a multi-pronged approach. We raise money through multiple events and use the funds to facilitate our operations,” explains Talluri.

The organization’s operations range from clothing and food drives to fundraiser events. HeartsThatSave’s latest operation is working toward menstrual equity for rural women starting in Southern India while simultaneously destigmatizing the conversation about periods in the communities.

“We basically are working towards achieving menstrual equity for rural women starting in Southern India, and then also just decreasing the period poverty associated with that,” adds Talluri.

Through her organization, HeartsThatServe, Talluri finds confidence and a sense of purpose – further solidifying her passion for helping others. This desire to be a helping hand to those in need has been Talluri’s motive for becoming a healthcare professional.

Aside from her extracurricular activities, Talluri carries a welcoming and kind personality.

Senior Arnav Surpur adds, “If I need her to explain a concept to me, she’s always willing to do it and she always explained it in a careful, meaningful, methodical way.”

Due to her stellar personality to her passion for helping others, Talluri has been rightfully nominated for the U.S. Presidential.

Talluri dedicates a heartfelt message to current Dougherty Valley students stating, “All we can do is try to be the best version of ourselves that we can. So again, if you’re doing your best and you’re confident in yourself, there should be no room for doubt.”