Commencement is right around the corner – and San Jose State University President Mohammad H. Qayoumi has announced the top three graduates who will be honored at the ceremony.
Great news for the Davidson College of Engineering: mechanical engineering senior Killol Acharya has been named one of two 2012 Outstanding Graduating Seniors. It’s a high honor given by President Qayoumi to only two out of the many thousands of undergrad students eligible for graduation this year.
The award recognizes academic excellence and overall achievements. Says Acharya, “I am extremely honored and humbled to receive this award. SJSU provides students with exceptional leadership and service opportunities alongside rigorous academics and relevant, real-world learning.”
Being an overachiever is second nature to Acharya. Raised in southern India, in Auroville, a small international township with a population of 2,000, Acharya learned the values that formed the foundation of who he is today – an ardent believer in the culture of service and social responsibility.
“My mother has always expected me to do my very best, says Acharya. “That unceasing expectation has been a silent, but most potent driving factor in my pursuit of excellence.”
Acharya moved to the United States four years ago to pursue his dream – a bachelor’s degree program at SJSU, with a concentration in mechatronics. “SJSU is one of about 12 universities offering mechatronics in an undergrad program,” he says, “I was also seeking an affordable education because I rely on financial aid to help pay my college costs.
“In addition, I was attracted to the rich diversity among the student body, similar to what I’d experienced in Auroville,” continues Acharya. “All of the above, plus the added perk of SJSU’s location in Silicon Valley – a hotbed of technology – helped clinch my decision. And I’ve never regretted it,” he adds.
Acharya hit the ground running at SJSU – getting immersed in several internships and numerous extracurricular activities, all while staying on top of his studies and working part-time. His efforts did not go unnoticed – he achieved high academic honors along the way – Dean’s Scholar, President’s Scholar, Baron Student Leadership Award, and membership in the Pi Tau Sigma National Honor Fraternity for Mechanical Engineers.
ME Professor Fred Barez, who has been Acharya’s academic adviser and mentor since his freshman year, is a number one fan. Says Barez, “I am so proud of what Killol has accomplished during his four years at SJSU. He has so many fine attributes that arm him for a lifetime of success – he’s smart, friendly, creative and a teamplayer.
“Because of his background, he is particularly focused on community-based projects and making a difference in people’s lives. As an advisor, it’s gratifying to see Killol take ideas we’ve discussed, run with them, and bring these ideas to life with innovative results. For instance, he led three students in creating a robotic guide dog for the visually impaired. I know with certainty that Killol has a bright future ahead of him – and it’s been a joy for me to have had a part in his journey.”
Acharya credits Dr. Barez for helping shape his academic success at SJSU. “He encouraged my involvement in Project Enable, motivated me to get top grades, and kept me informed of scholarship opportunities because he was aware of my financial difficulties. I am deeply grateful to him.”
Another admirer, Katherine Casey, engineering outreach assistant, who worked with Acharya when he volunteered for the Engineering Ambassador Program (EAP), is impressed with his commitment. “Killol has served others with a deep commitment to community and leadership,” she says. “He served as the Robotics Club liaison with EAP, and inspired K-12 students by demonstrating robotics projects and conducting hands-on activities to engage them in engineering education. Killol has certainly earned this award.”
Killol will represent all undergrads when he stands on the platform alongside other honorees, the president, and faculty leaders during the Commencement ceremony in Spartan Stadium. However, he won’t be saying good-bye – he plans to pursue a master’s degree at SJSU. Stay tuned to more from this outstanding student.