Junior Arya Gujarathi earns the title of Sunshine State Scholar for his achievements in mathematics and science

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Breanna Gordon

Junior Arya Gujarathi works on math problems during his study hall period in preparation for the math competition season. He was recently chosen as a Sunshine State Scholar for his accomplishments in mathematics and science.

Jessie Gesund, Arts & Leisure Editor

Trigonometry, integrals and derivatives decorate the white board in preparation for the upcoming math competition. One student steps up to the board ready to take on the challenge. He looks over the problems thoroughly and then solves them with ease. Rigorous classes like Advanced Placement Calculus BC and Statistics challenge students to solve equations beyond the common Algebra or Geometry class. Individuals who truly love math typically pursue their ambitions and reach ahead to the highest levels of achievement, whether it be over a 100% on a test or a first place distinction in a state math competition.

Arya Gujarathi, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, has been selected out of all of Broward County as a scholar in the Sunshine State Scholars program, a forum for 11th grade students to showcase their academic excellence in specific areas of study. Selected from Broward County students in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM), Gujarathi showcased his achievements in mathematics.

“My math teacher, Mr. [Chung-Chiang] Feng, highly recommended me [to enter],” Gujarathi said. “There was a point system rubric that he told me to fill out; he said I had the most points more than anyone at this school, so he nominated me for the school.”

For his application, Gujarathi was asked to submit an essay on what he dreamed to be or what his dream career would be.

“I’m highly considering getting a degree in Aerospace Engineering, so I wrote my essay on what I wish to do with Aerospace Engineering,” Gujarathi said. “A major point of my essay was that in the case that Earth becomes uninhabitable, we could make sure we have explored other planets and have found other environments for which humans can live.”

Gujarathi was born in Coral Springs and moved to Parkland when he was six. At Park Trails Elementary School, he was placed in the Gifted and Talented program, where he was given advanced content and learned at an accelerated pace.

At Westglades Middle School, Gujarathi was enrolled in Element of Mathematics: Foundations (EMF), an online curriculum catered to advanced-level math students. The course allows students to complete and master Pre-Algebra, Algebra, Geometry and Precalculus before they begin high school.

Gujarathi is currently in AP Calculus BC, which is an equivalent to both first and second semester college calculus courses. He has previously taken AP Calculus AB and AP Statistics. AP and other high-level classes made Gujarathi stand out among MSD and Broward County Sunshine State applicants. However, Gujarathi does not just take the classes for college credits and awards; for example, he enjoys math for its dual simplicity and complexity.

“Math is very discrete; there’s either a right or a wrong and there’s nothing really left to interpret,” Gujarathi said. “Other subjects [in school] are more subjective and there’s a gray area, and I prefer black and white.”

Alongside his high-level math classes, Gujarathi is a Tutoring Chair for the Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society (MAO) and also competes by serving as one of four students on the calculus team. He competes in competitions with his team in the calculus category, securing second place in a recent regional competition.

Aside from being his math teacher, Feng has guided Gujarathi throughout his time in high school and for the Sunshine State Scholars application. He has done this for students in the past, as he is always looking for opportunities for them to earn achievements and succeed.

“I had Mr. Feng in my sophomore year and I also have him this year; he’s always trying to help me to decide on what courses I should take, what would look best for college, and what would benefit me the most,” Gujarathi said. “I would definitely say he is a mentor and is always trying to help me be the best person I could possibly be.”

With one person chosen from each school, Sunshine State Scholars selection is highly competitive. Feng created a list with the MSD Math and Science department that scored and gave points to students according to a list of qualifications, which include a list of courses taken, extracurriculars and competitions. With Gujarathi having a high amount of points, he was a front-running candidate for the nomination.

“I am proud of him not only for his accomplishments, but also [because he is] a great person who is very respectful, humble, and always willing to help others in either science and math,” Feng said.

Outside of school, Gujarathi takes Taekwondo classes at Peak Performance in Tamarac. Having been in classes for nine years, he has achieved a black belt. He also enjoys volunteering at the Parkland Library.

Additionally, Gujarathi has been serving in the Youth Ambassador Program for the City of Parkland this past school year. As a treasurer, he has attended city events and will be conducting a service project.

“We all, [the ambassadors,] do mostly the same work,” Gujarathi said. “Some of us are sending emails or some of us may be leading meetings.”

Upon being selected for his academic accomplishments, Gujarathi will travel to Orlando from Thursday, April 13 to Saturday, April 15 to be honored and to connect with other Sunshine State-selected Scholars from Florida. Accompanied by his family, Gujarathi will be able to meet many STEM-specialized employers and network with university representatives.

“I’m definitely considering a lot of the Florida schools, so I hope to gain some information about what programs are available, but also about some internship opportunities, specifically internships while in college,” Gujarathi said.

With a passion for math and aerospace engineering, Gujarathi plans on taking Multivariable Calculus with the University of Florida. He dreams of going to college to study engineering and hopes to run for president of the Math Honor Society in the upcoming school year.