U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) presented Indian-American student Soham Daga with the Congressional Award Gold Medal, Congress’s highest award for youth.
Meng awarded the 17-year-old Daga with the honor during a special ceremony on Capitol Hill that recognized all 283 Congressional Award Gold Medal recipients from across the country.
To earn the award, individuals must spend two years or more completing at least 400 hours of community service, 200 hours of both personal development and physical fitness activities, and a four-night expedition or exploration.
“Soham is an exceptional young man who worked tirelessly to help others and achieve very challenging goals,” said Meng. “I’m proud of Soham for earning this huge honor, and it’s a privilege to congratulate him.”
Daga – who resides in Meng’s district in Forest Hills, New York – fulfilled his community service by volunteering for Boy Scouts service projects in New York City, particularly in the borough of Queens. He cleaned parks and cleaned and painted churches, senior citizen facilities, and public schools. He also helped install and maintain landscaping. In addition, he spent a summer serving communities in India by organizing medical camps and teaching students.
For his personal development, Daga engaged in policy debate and became captain of his high school policy debate team.
To maintain his physical fitness, he pursued his fervor for cycling and swimming.
For his expedition, Daga embarked – with his father – on a six-day hike on the Appalachian Trail where he learned skills such as camping.
The Congressional Award Gold Medal, a public-private partnership established by Congress in 1979, is open to all youth ages 14 to 23. The ceremony in Washington, D.C. took place this past Thursday afternoon.
Daga is set to graduate from Stuyvesant High School at the end of the month, and plans to attend Princeton University in the fall. He expects to major in financial engineering.
In addition to earning the Congressional Award Gold Medal, Daga was a finalist in the 2014 Intel Science competition (where he met President Obama). He was also honored by the Society of Science. Further, he took part in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair earlier this year where he won first prize for global statistics and third prize for social science and economics research.
Interviews with Daga can be arranged upon request.
See attached photo of Daga and Meng during the ceremony in Washington, D.C. Also pictured: Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens/Bronx).
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