WASHINGTON: A 17-year-old Indian-American student has been presented with the prestigious Congressional Award Gold Medal, which is Congress' highest award for youth in the United States.
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 Congresswoman Grace Meng.
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, a media release said.
The Congressional Award Gold Medal, a public-private partnership established by Congress in 1979, is open to all youth ages 14 to 23.
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 Barack Obama. He was also honored by the Society of Science.