Ayush Gundawar knew from the moment he founded LearnForsyth, a free tutoring platform in Forsyth County, in 2020 that he wanted to help others succeed in their education.
Started during the pandemic, the South Forsyth High School senior said the platform was meant to connect students with volunteers to help tutor them through confusing online classes and stressful or difficult times. And in the past two years, it has done exactly that.
Now with the help of 200 volunteers, LearnForsyth has been able to help more than 850 students in Forsyth County and beyond.
It is because of this work and his leadership within the Georgia chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America that Gundawar was recently chosen as one of 161 high school students in the nation as a U.S. Presidential Scholar.
“Our 2022 Presidential Scholars represent the best of America, and remind us that when empowered by education, there are no limits to what our young people can achieve," said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. "Today, I join President Biden to celebrate a class of scholars whose pursuit of knowledge, generosity of spirit, and exceptional talents bring our nation tremendous pride.”
“Throughout one of the most trying periods in our nation’s history and amid our recovery from the pandemic, our students have once again demonstrated their strength and that they have so much to contribute to our country. Thanks to them, I know America's future is bright," Cardona said.
Gundawar was one of just three students chosen in Georgia to be part of the 58th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars who were recognized based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as a demonstrated commitment to community service and leadership.
Of the 3.7 million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 5,000 candidates qualified for the 2022 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT or ACT exams or through nominations made by chief state school officers, other partner recognition organizations and YoungArts, the National Foundation for the Advancement of Artists.
As directed by Presidential Executive Order, the 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars are comprised of one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large, 20 scholars in the arts and 20 scholars in career and technical education.
“When I first found out I made the list, I nearly jumped out of my seat,” Gundawar said. “It was a very exciting moment for me and my family, particularly because of how big of an opportunity the scholar award is. To me, the award isn't just a personal accomplishment; it's a gratifying representation of how making a positive change in your community will always have a ripple effect.”
After founding LearnForsyth, becoming a state ambassador of the Georgia FBLA, serving as a Forsyth County Youth Commissioner and helping Forsyth County Schools to re-design its computer science and business curriculums as a CTAE ambassador, Gundawar said he is looking forward to continuing his work after graduation this year.
He plans to attend the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to pursue a degree computer science.
“Founding LearnForsyth and working as a Youth Commissioner in Forsyth County has shown me that even something as simple as creating an education website can spiral into a learning platform that inspires and excites students across a community!” Gundawar said.
South Forsyth Principal Laura Wilson said she is proud to see Gundawar receive the honor of being named a U.S. Presidential Scholar before graduating and moving on from the county.
“South Forsyth HS is thrilled for Ayush,” Wilson wrote in a statement. “He is an absolutely spectacular young man.”
Created in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program has honored over 7,900 of the nation’s top-performing students. The program was expanded in 1979 to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, literary and performing arts. In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.
The Presidential Scholars Class of 2022 will be recognized for their outstanding achievement this summer with an online recognition program.
A complete list of 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars is available at http://www.ed.gov/psp.