Bloomfield Hills Schools seniors Morgan Cook, Akshara Karthik, Abigail Kendal, and Jaanaki Radhakrishnan have been named as semifinalists in the prestigious Coca-Cola Scholars program. Semifinalists are among the top 2% of more than 68,000 applicants and these students are out of 45 Michigan students to be named semifinalists. Cook, Karthik, and Kendal attend the International Academy (IA) and Radhakrishnan attends Bloomfield Hills High School.
Karthik found out about the Coca-Cola Scholarship through the IA, particularly students from the Class of 2020 who had applied before. “I think my achievements, service experiences, and significant involvement in my school community are what made my application stand out,” said Karthik.
“They mostly focus on leadership and service, so I listed my activities inside and outside of school,” said Radhakrishnan. “You also need to do an academic profile, but mostly they are looking for people who show a commitment to leadership and service in their schools and communities.”
As semifinalists, the students all submitted a more detailed application with three short and three long essays as part of the regional portion of the scholarship. “For me, the most difficult essay posed the question: ‘If you could participate in only one of the activities you have listed on this application, which one would you keep and why?’,” said Cook. “Being a music student of 14 years, I immediately decided on my piano playing. However, I found it more difficult than expected to put into words my relationship with the piano and what music has meant for me in all of my years studying, listening, performing, and competing. In my head and my heart, I know exactly how it has helped shape me into the person I am today. Yet, it was a challenge to accurately explain this.”
Another important component of the application is the letter of recommendation. Kendal asked IA Biology Teacher Suzanne Monck to provide additional insight into the scholarship qualifications. Kendal said, “Since junior year, Mrs. Monck's class has allowed me to explore my passion for science beyond the confines of the classroom. As part of my Extended Essay, a required research project in the IB curriculum, I researched how single nucleotide polymorphisms can be used to create ethical and equitable personalized genomic medicine technologies. Mrs. Monck supervised me throughout the course of this project and has supported me on an academic and personal level over the past few years. She has truly transformed my high school experience!”
Students who go on from the regionals will be part of an interview process which will determine the scholarship finalists. “Personally, I feel that becoming an awardee of the Coca-Cola Scholarship would not only be gratifying but also serve as motivation and inspiration to continue leading a life enriched by service!,” emphasized Karthik. Students will be notified by the end of January if they advance to the next round.