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White House Fellowships 10 South Asians are among 108 regional finalists

The White House has selected 10 South Asian Americans among the 108 Regional Finalists for the 2005-06 White House Fellows Program ó one of the nationís most prestigious programs for leadership and public service. The list was announced late last month.

The Regional Finalists are selected from approximately 1,000 applicants nationwide, and represent a broad cross-section of professions including business, education, health care, finance, law, local and state government, and non-profit. Additionally, five branches of the military are represented among the finalists. The South Asian finalists in this yearís list include:

  • Abdul Shukoor Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer, V-Empower, Inc., Bowie, MD
  • Kavita Bali, Graduate Student, London School of Economics, Lompoc, CA
  • Ravin Gandhi, President and Founder, Glenborn Partners, L.P., Waukegan, IL
  • Anjali Jain, Clinical Editor, BMJ Publishing Group, Springfield, VA
  • Vivek Mohta, Visiting Scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northville, MI
  • Thomas A. Neyarapally, Associate Attorney, Frommer, Lawrence & Haug LLP, Mystic, CT
  • Koushik Shiek Pal, Graduate Student, Harvard University, Muncie, IN
  • Anand Kamlesh Parekh, Physician, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Detroit, MI
  • Kavita Krishnakant Patel, Physician, Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar, San Antonio, TX
  • Ramesh Subramani, Physician and Associate Professor, Northwestern University Memorial Hospital, Chicago, IL
In the final cut, only 11 to 19 Fellows go on to receive the award that was founded in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Selection as a White House Fellow is highly competitive and based on a record of remarkable professional achievement early in oneís career, evidence of leadership skills, a strong commitment to public service, and the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute successfully at the highest levels of the Federal government, according to the White House.

Some famous people who have been chosen for the fellowship include former Secretary of State Colin Powell; Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao; Former CNN President Tom Johnson; American Red Cross President Marsha Evans; United Nations Foundation President and former Senator Timothy Wirth; and Senator Samuel Brownback. The nearly 600 alumni of the program have gone on to become leaders in many fields.

The initial 1,000 or so applicants are screened down to a smaller number who then get interviewed by eight to ten regional panels which are composed of prominent local citizens. The regional panels select approximately 30 candidates to proceed as national finalists.

All national finalists are required to undergo comprehensive background investigations to ensure that they qualify for the security clearance necessary for their fellowship work assignments. Every year, the Presidentís Commission on White House Fellowships, which is composed of approximately 30 outstanding citizens who represent a broad range of backgrounds, interests, and professions, selects a class of White House Fellows.

Members of the Commission are appointed by the President; some have served through several administrations and some are former Fellows. During selection weekend, the Presidentís Commission on White House Fellowships interviews finalists at a location near Washington, D.C. After spending selection weekend interviewing, interacting with, and observing the national finalists, the Commission recommends those individuals it finds most qualified for the fellowship to the President for appointment as White House Fellows. Applicants, all have to be U.S. citizens, should not be federal employees unless they are career military personnel, should have completed their undergraduate education and be working in their chosen professions. The winners get first-hand experience working at the highest levels of the Federal government and also participate in an education program consisting of roundtable discussions with renowned leaders from the private and public sectors, as well as trips to study U.S. policy in action both domestically and internationally.

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