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Two Moravian Academy Seniors Named U.S. Presidential Scholars
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BETHLEHEM TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WLVT) - The U.S. Presidential Scholar Program is so selective that only 161 graduating high school seniors in the country get chosen. In Pennsylvania, just three students were selected this year -- and two of them not only represent the Lehigh Valley, but they also graduate from the same school.

Neil Deshmukh of Macungie and Rhea Malhotra of Allentown are wrapping up their time at Moravian Academy, as they prepare for college in the fall. Lehigh Valley Congresswoman Susan Wild congratulated both students with a virtual ceremony Monday.

"Before even going to college, their resumes are more impressive than most career-level professionals," Wild said during the ceremony.

Both Deshmukh and Malhotra shared their gratitude for the recognition and credited their families and teachers.

"Everything that I've done -- not only for the last four years, but for my entire life -- I've been supported every step of the way," Deshmukh said.

"I now have a platform to make more of an impact and connect with others around the country who are still trying to change the world as we know it," Malhotra added.

Deshmukh will study computer science and business at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). He won the grand prize at last year’s International BioGENEius challenge, and he has also won two top awards at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

He's also designed two apps that use artificial intelligence. PlantumAI helps farmers find and diagnose crop disease, and Vocal Eyes AI helps people who are blind or who have low-vision see by listening to a talking camera.

"I want to grow those. I want to keep on working on projects that work to serve under-resourced un-served communities especially, because even though the technology is out there right now -- it is created, it's not being addressed," he said.

Meanwhile, Malhotra will study biomechanical engineering and economics at Stanford University. She ranked highest in her class with a 4.24 GPA (grade point average). She launched a nonprofit called Synapse Global Science Connections and created the first high school chapter of the Engineering, Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS).

She has worked in labs at Lehigh university and has talked about her research at a TEDEx Lehigh River talk and on her NPR radio show “Teen Scientist."

"In the future, i hope to earn an MD-PhD to potentially launch my own pharmaceutical startup and combine my interest in healthcare, engineering and business to continue to make an impact," Malhotra said.

"The truth is that the future of America is dependent on the young leaders who seek to make it a better place. It is dependent on individuals who are able to translate the gaps in our technology and infrastructure," Wild said. "I'm confident that with the leadership of Neil and Rhea, our future is in good hands."

Wild mailed Deshmukh and Malhotra their Congressional commendations and invited them to her office in Washington after the pandemic passes.