Hotchkiss School awards King Constantine medal to Priyanka Kumar
Posted: 11 September 2019
Priyanka Kumar (Hotchkiss ’19, Harvard ’23) was recognized during an all-school meeting at Hotchkiss School for her strong spirit of service and awarded this year’s King Constantine Medal.
Amy Rasner, assistant director of admission, said that Priyanka’s “involvement in our community is extensive, reaching across disciplines, generations, and experiences. She is compassionate and engaged, and meets the myriad demands on her time head on methodically and tenaciously, we have every confidence her impact will continue long after graduation.”
At Hotchkiss, Priyanka co-captained the Math Team and Math Club; founded Girls Who Code, was editor-in-chief of Spectrum, a literary arts magazine; co-headed the Diversity Council and the Republicans Club; and, led other campus activities, including organizing a student event for National Gun Safety High School Walkout Day.
Off campus, she was program director of the STEM Garden, a non-profit that helps young students build confidence and interest in science, technology, engineering and math. She was a General Electric Fellow, and she participated in university research, using 3D printing to create human skin for burn victims at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and working on a program to differentiate between cancerous and non-cancerous cells at Stanford.
Her deep interest in serving others stemmed, in part, from a childhood pledge. “My best friend taught me the value of service in my community,” explains Priyanka. “After she passed away, I have made it my mission to dedicate my life to service in her name by making the world a better place one contribution, one smile, and one cause at a time, just as she taught me. I got involved with the Diversity and Inclusion committee following the MLK Day and September protests in 2015 and 2016 on campus where I saw the need to improve student life for diversity and inclusion. I wanted to do my part in making sure other students feel like they could be part of this community just like I wanted.”
She said her most most meaningful impact has been her work with the STEM Garden, which she created to help students in STEM with the assistance of a grant from Stanford’s AI4ALL. “It has been such a great experience getting to tutor kids and run classes and workshops across the country. I will never forget when a third-grade girl once came up to me and said that she finally felt like she had the right to be good at math and science,” she said. “That is what I hope to teach these kids: they can do anything they put their minds to.”
Round Square coordinator David Thompson is happy to see Priyanka being recognized for her commitment to service. “It has been exciting for us as a school to make the King Constantine Award part of the annual calendar for St. Luke’s. The student heads approach the evaluation of the nominations and interviews with the finalists with great care, sincerity, and professionalism. This has been a good example of how Round Square helps us re-affirm our values, and gives us a framework to recognize student initiative.“