LCPS Ashburn scholarship recipients

From left: Millie Pandya, Akshita Panigrahi and Shreya Somayajula.

Three young Ashburn women in the Loudoun County Public Schools Class of 2021 have received scholarships of local and national repute.

Shreya Somayajula, Millie Pandya and Akshita Panigrahi were awarded the U.S. Presidential Scholarship, the University of Virginia’s Jefferson Scholarship, and the Willowcroft Science Scholarship, respectively.

LCPS Interim Superintendent announced Somayajula’s and Pandya’s scholarships at the Tuesday Loudoun County School Board meeting.

Panigrahi’s scholarship was announced in a Loudoun Education Foundation (LEF) press release earlier this week.

Somayajula, a senior at Ashburn’s Stone Bridge High School, is one of 161 high school seniors selected for the U.S. Presidential Scholars program this year.

The program was founded in 1964 “to recognize and honor some of our nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors,” according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Each U.S. Presidential Scholar is able to name their most influential teacher to receive a personal letter from U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

Somayajula selected SBHS English teacher Melanie Stender, who described Somayajula as “a critical and innovative thinker, a sophisticated writer, and a natural leader.”

“Her insights in AP English Language and Composition constantly impressed, while her wit and geniality contributed to a collaborative and positive classroom climate for all,” Stender said in a prepared statement.

Pandya is a senior at Ashburn’s Rock Ridge High School and Leesburg’s Academies of Loudoun. She is one of 38 recipients of this year’s Jefferson Scholarship, a full scholarship to the University of Virginia.

Candidates for the Jefferson Scholarship undergo a multi-tiered selection process. More than 2,100 students were nominated for the 2021 scholarship, with 125 named finalists, per LCPS.

Pandya completed both the Health and Medical Science pathway and the Medical Laboratory Technology pathway during her time at AOL’s Monroe Advanced Technical Academy.

Panigrahi received the $5,000 Willowcroft Science Scholarship, which is awarded annually by the Willowcroft Science Endowment and the Ashburn-based LEF. The scholarship is awarded “to a student who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in the sciences,” according to LEF officials.

Lewis “Lew” Parker, owner of Leesburg’s Willowcroft Farm Vineyards, funds the scholarship. His two daughters participated regularly in science fairs during their time at Loudoun Valley High School in Purcellville.

“...this scholarship is my way of giving back to the school system,” Parker said in a prepared statement.

Panigrahi plans to study engineering and applied science at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall, per officials.

“I’d like to thank Mr. Lew Parker and the Loudoun Education Foundation for making this possible,” she said.

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