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Six Young Indian Americans Among 2024 Knight-Hennessy Scholars at Stanford University

Six Young Indian Americans Among 2024 Knight-Hennessy Scholars at Stanford University

  • They are joined by one student each from India, Sri Lanka and Kenya.

Six Indian Americans, as well as one from India, Sri Lanka and Kenya, are among this year’s Knight-Hennessy Scholars at Stanford University. The 2024 cohort of 90 new scholars, is the largest to date and comprises students from 30 countries who will pursue degrees in 45 graduate programs across all seven graduate schools at Stanford. 

Indian American scholars include Ank Agarwal, Wasan Kumar, Aneesh Pappu, Krishna Pathak, Isha Sanghvi, and Kritika Singh. They are joined by Rahul Penumaka of Hyderabad, India; Kavindya Thennakoon of  Dehiowita, Sri Lanka; and Khushi Malde of Nairobi, Kenya. 

Knight-Hennessy Scholars is a multidisciplinary, multicultural graduate fellowship program spanning all seven schools at Stanford University. Knight-Hennessy scholars receive up to three years of financial support to pursue graduate studies at Stanford while engaging in experiences that prepare them to be visionary, courageous, and collaborative leaders who address complex challenges facing the world. Scholars are selected based on their demonstration of independence of thought, purposeful leadership, and a civic mindset.

Ank Agarwal

Ank Agarwal, from New Haven, Connecticut, is pursuing an MD and a PhD in cancer biology at the Stanford School of Medicine. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a bachelor’s degree in biology. He also played guitar in several bands and founded Ank Guitars, a company that crafted custom instruments for professional musicians and individuals with mobility challenges. At Johns Hopkins, he won the Woodrow Wilson, Hodson Trust, and Unsung Hero awards for his research and efforts to tackle disparities in prisons and in children’s education.

Wasan Kumar

Wasan Kumar, from Skokie, Illinois, is pursuing an MD/MBA at Stanford School of Medicine and Stanford Graduate School of Business. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and minors in public policy and global Asian studies. He aspires to improve healthcare quality and costs by designing new technologies and influencing health policy. He has worked on developing computational tools to improve clinical trial recruitment for rare diseases, reduce rates of hospital readmissions, and increase early diagnosis of congenital cardiac conditions in low-resource settings. His writing on health economics has been featured in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine and has influenced policy action at both federal and state government 

Aneesh Pappu

Aneesh Pappu, from Pullman, Washington, is pursuing a PhD in electrical engineering at Stanford School of Engineering. He graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in symbolic systems and a master’s degree in computer science. As a Marshall Scholar, he earned a master’s degree in machine learning from University College London and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Cambridge. As a researcher at Google Deepmind, he worked on privacy for AI, and as a policy analyst at the Ada Lovelace Institute, he published research on auditing social media platforms for compliance with the U.K. Online Safety Bill. He is a recipient of the Stanford Centennial Teaching Assistant Award and is a Coca-Cola Scholar.

Krishna Pathak

Krishna Pathak, from Washington, D.C., is pursuing a JD at Stanford Law School. Raised in the suburbs of Indianapolis, Indiana, he graduated from Indiana University with a degree in public policy. Most recently, he served on the National Security Council staff at the White House, where he advised senior U.S. officials on foreign, economic, and technology policy; directly engaged in bilateral diplomacy with foreign governments; and traveled to support presidential visits both in the United States and overseas. Before working at the White House, he supported Members of Congress in the U.S. House of Representatives on issues in national security and foreign affairs.

Isha Sanghvi

Isha Sanghvi, from Fremont, California, is pursuing an MD at Stanford School of Medicine. She graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and a minor in social entrepreneurship. While at USC, she co-created Secure Remedy, a social enterprise that developed a wearable medication pouch to prevent medication theft for individuals experiencing homelessness and chronic health conditions. Motivated by her time as a California peer counselor for Los Angeles residents experiencing sexual violence, she joined the Valera Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital and co-led a study documenting the stories of women who sustained traumatic brain injuries from intimate partner violence. She was recognized as USC’s Class of 2023 university valedictorian and Brittingham Social Enterprise Labs’ Social Impact Scholar.

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Kritika Singh

Kritika Singh, from McLean, Virginia, is pursuing an MD at Stanford School of Medicine. She graduated summa cum laude from Northeastern University, majoring in bioengineering and minoring in chemistry. She completed her doctor of philosophy at the University of Oxford and the National Cancer Institute focusing on the use of ultrasound as a therapeutic modality that can be widely adapted in both high- and low-resource settings. She founded a nonprofit organization, Malaria Free World, which engages in peer-to-peer education and has worked to empower others by founding the Northeastern University Global Health Initiative. She has also explored the healthcare business as co-founder of a stealth biotechnology company spun out from Massachusetts General Hospital. Kritika is a recipient of the Goldwater Scholarship, Truman Scholarship, and Rhodes Scholarship.

Rahul Penumaka, from Hyderabad, India, is pursuing a master’s degree in translational research and applied medicine at Stanford School of Medicine. He earned his medical degree and bachelor’s degree in pharmacology from Imperial College London. He researched gallbladder cancer biomarkers in Thailand that aided clinical decision-making for patients receiving chemotherapy. He served in student government, leading efforts to address the impact of COVID-19 on medical education. As an academic doctor in the U.K.’s National Health Service, he has worked for the last two years to enhance the care of stroke and heart failure patients. He was awarded distinctions in medicine and clinical practice and the Sancta Maria Lodge Scholarship for academic excellence.

Kavindya Thennakoon, from Dehiowita, Sri Lanka, is pursuing a PhD in developmental and psychological sciences at Stanford School of Education. She graduated from Wellesley College majoring in anthropology and cinema studies and was chosen as the student commencement speaker. She then earned a master of science degree in learning, design, and technology from Stanford, where she was a Dean’s Fellow. She is a play designer and researches early childhood education with a focus on understanding how foundational skills like self-awareness, empathy, and metacognition can be built and measured. She is the co-founder of Tilli, a play-based learning tool that builds eight foundational cognitive skills before a child’s 10th birthday. Before this, she worked as a learning researcher at Google for Education. She is a recipient of the Queen’s Young Leaders Award and Stanford’s EDGE fellowship.

Khushi Malde, from Nairobi, Kenya, is pursuing a master’s degree in learning, design, and technology at Stanford Graduate School of Education. She graduated from the University of California (UC), Berkeley, with a bachelor’s degree in data science and business administration. She founded a nonprofit, Technology and Entrepreneurship Ladder, through which she provides entrepreneurship education opportunities to students in Kenya. Since graduating from UC Berkeley, she has been leading the global growth team at Lumiere Education, providing research opportunities to high school students from more than 60 countries. She is a recipient of the Education 2.0 Outstanding Leadership Award, the UC Berkeley Campus SPOT Award, and the Cal Alumni Leadership Award.

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