Student Spotlights: In Conversation With Sanjana Velu

Can you tell us about the Coca-Cola Scholarship?

I was able to earn a scholarship sponsored by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation called the Coca-Cola Scholarship. They give out 150 scholarships a year to students all across the nation, who are very active in their communities. The scholarship targets those dedicated to making a difference for those around them. There is a long application process with different elements as you progress, like interviews and essay responses. Recipients are given $20,000 scholarships to use towards their education which is definitely one of the coolest parts. You also become a big part of this huge network, right after I got in I was receiving emails from past Coca-Cola scholars. The connections I’ve made through this entire process have been more valuable than the money itself. Recipients also are invited to a networking event, this year it’s from April 13 to 16 in Atlanta, Georgia. 

What was your initial reaction when you found out you had received the scholarship? 

I was actually on the staircase going down the lunch. I got the email and immediately freaked out; I was so excited. When I was looking at the bios of people that had gotten it the year before, they had done amazing things. I did not think I was going to get that far and every time I got to the next step I would tell myself that I just got lucky. To win just left me in such shock. I could tell I made the people around me, especially my parents proud. 

Overall how do you feel about your experience, and what can you take away from it?

The experience is very validating, especially to know that my work and everything I’ve done throughout my high school career is valued. It makes me feel like I’ve really made a difference. Obviously, I know I did a lot to get here, but being gifted money for later in my life and seeing it in writing is so special. It definitely very competitive. I think a lot of it comes down to what you’ve done, but also how you portray yourself. You could do a lot of amazing things but if you don’t prove yourself as a very genuine, passionate individual about the things that you do, then you’re not going to get [recognition] at the end of the day. They’re looking for people who have been very involved, but also actually cared about the impact you make. I am grateful for the opportunities that I have earned throughout this whole process.