This story by Cory Hopkins first appeared in the Office of Undergraduate Education newsroom.
Aerospace engineering and physics major Yashvardhan Tomar has been selected to receive the 2022 Love Family Foundation Scholarship. The $10,000 scholarship is awarded annually to a Georgia Tech graduating senior with the most outstanding academic record. It represents one of the highest academic honors given to an undergraduate student. Winners are selected by the associate and assistant deans of all six colleges.
"Sometimes I still have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not in some particularly dreamy state after overdosing on bouts of hyper-surrealist poetry," said Tomar about winning the award. "With around 3,500 to 4,000 graduating students, each more accomplished than the other, it is undoubtedly a very humbling experience to be chosen for this grand honor."
Yashvardhan knew at an early age that he wanted to be a leading aerospace engineer and space scientist. "The reason was plain and simple — as reasons are when one is seven — I had a deep, consuming fascination with the manifold charms of the deep, alluring cosmos," he said. He also knew that Georgia Tech could provide the pathways for success in his academic career.
Eager to begin his college career, Yashvardhan chose to start a semester early at Georgia Tech by joining the first Summer iGniTe program. Students in the iGniTe program start their first semester at Tech during the late-short summer term. The early exposure and familiarization with the culture and resources at Tech gave him a more concrete sense of what he wished to accomplish through his undergraduate education. Within just his first two years at Tech, he had two first-author publications in peer-reviewed journals, became the youngest teaching assistant in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering Department to teach weekly recitations, and was honored by the Vertical Flight Society with the highly prestigious Charles C. Crawford Fellowship — given to the top five undergraduate students from universities around the world contributing to the field.
Graduating with two majors, according to Tomar, was never the original plan. "It was only after taking some astrophysics courses, sheerly out of interest and an innate longing to understand the magic of the universe at its most fundamental level, that I started considering the possibility of pursuing two fields of study in earnest." Coming from a different education system, Yashvardhan started with almost no transfer credit, which meant he had to pack his semesters to complete both degrees within a four-year time frame — all while still finding time for research, teaching, volunteer work, and a somewhat unexpected love, poetry. "I was invested in the Poetry@Tech society at Tech all through my years here. I can affirm that one of the best things to happen to me was meeting Ilya Kaminsky and receiving his mentorship in refining my craft."
"I wish there were words sincere enough in the language to aptly convey how grateful I feel to the Institute — the administration, the college deans, and the members of the award committee — for choosing me, among so many promising candidates, for this high honor; to my department chairs Stephen Ruffin, Graeme Kennedy, and Michael Schatz for investing their faith in my candidature; to all my research mentors for always holding a lantern on the path forward; to my peers and family for always keeping me strong and resolute through testing times. And of course, I convey my most earnest gratitude to the Love family for bringing this glad, glad moment to life for me!"
After graduating, he plans to rush home and meet family — who he hasn't seen in over three years. Later this summer, he will begin a Ph.D. program in theoretical astrophysics at Caltech.