SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — The challenge covered multiple aspects of Avinash Rajasekaran’s life and it’s exactly why the Shawnee High School junior took it on.
U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan recently awarded Avinash a bronze medal Congressional Award. The bronze is the third highest award a student can earn. Students have to accomplish a series of tasks to get the honor.
“It was pretty important,” he said of accomplishing his goal. “I felt like it was improving on a bunch of different aspects in my life, not just one thing.”
To get the award, Avinash had to complete 100 hours of community service. He has volunteered at Lima Memorial Health System, working 50 hours over the summer, and then four-hour shifts once a week during the school year. Avinash cleans rooms in the emergency room and transports patients to radiology.
“I feel like I was learning more about the hospital environment and making some of the work easier for others,” he said.
Another requirement is 50 hours of physical fitness. Avinash accomplished this on the tennis court. He plays second singles for Shawnee and plays at Westwood Tennis and Fitness Center. Avinash has played since the fourth grade, starting after watching his dad and professionals play.
“I watched matches when I was younger and really enjoyed it,” he said. “So I tried it and have played ever since.”
The award also requires 50 hours of personal development. For Avinash, that comes through playing the violin. He’s played since the fourth grade.
Students must also take an exploration trip to a national park and write about it. Avinash went to Yosemite National Park in California.
Avinash learned about the award program through Youth Group for Indian Culture, a Dayton-based program he has been involved with for five years. He recently graduated from it. The group first teaches students about their Indian culture and then gets them involved in volunteering and other projects. A recent project included painting a gazebo in Dayton.
“I have met a bunch of new people and made new friends,” he said. “I have learned about my culture and it has prepared me well for college.”
Avinash received the Congressional Award and medal last week in front of his parents and school officials. It was his first time meeting Jordan.
“It was definitely cool,” he said.
Avinash is a member of the school’s Science Olympiad and Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics and Science (TEAMS). Both groups compete against other schools. He has a 4.2 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society.
“I work pretty hard on it,” he said of his schoolwork. “My parents push me to work hard. They taught me that if you work hard early, later on everything will come easier to you.”
Avinash plans to study something related to science or technology possibly at Case Western University. Medicine is a possibility. Science and math have always been his strongest subjects.
“They just come easy for me,” he said. “I understand the way things work the way they do.”