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Building the next generation of South Asian leaders in US

New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) The Washington Leadership Program (WLP), the premier leadership development program for young South Asian Americans, has started its sixth year with ten more summer scholars who will intern Capitol Hill.

This summer’s class looks just as exceptional as past classes with students from Harvard, Yale, University of Pittsburgh, and North Carolina State University. They will work with Members of Congress and advisers in the Obama Administration, said a WLP press release.

Each year, the WLP selects ten top-notch South Asian American students for the opportunity to intern in congressional offices and federal agencies on Capitol Hill. In addition to the internship, participants attend special meetings and events to fully expose them to the South Asian American political diaspora.

The WLP was founded in August 2008 in memory of publisher and philanthropist Gopal Raju, who sponsored a program that placed over 170 students in Congressional internships over 15 years. Alumni of Raju’s program created the WLP seeking to honor his legacy and continue this vital program for the community.
Some of the other notable alumni the WLP are Sam Arora, WLP 2002, and Maryland State Representative, Jimmy Soni, WLP 2004, who is the Managing Editor of the Huffington Post, Neil Kataria, WLP 1998, who owns one of the largest venture capital firms in DC, and Rashmi Murthy, WLP 2002, an oncologist at Baylor Medical Center.

“Whether in elected office, law, or entertainment, our alumni have gone on to do great things,” said Harin Contractor, chair for the WLP.

The WLP has succeeded over the last six years through a fully volunteer board made up of alumni of the program. They have over 25 events for the summer scholars and conduct intense trainings, workshops, and seminars from political and policy leaders in the community.

The program is just kicking off the 2014 Scholars of WLP already have exclusive meetings lined up with Assistant Secretary of State, Nisha Desai Biswal; former White House advisor Sonal Shah; Faiz Shakir who is a senior advisor to Senator Harry Reid; a dinner with Congressman Ami Bera and Congressman Mike Honda, as well as Judge Sree Sreenivasan.
The ten selected this year are: Areeba Kamal, interning at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders; Batul Contractor, interning at USAID; Kaushik Rao, interning with the Department of Labor; Meera Patel, interning with Congressman Ami Bera; Krishnan Sethumadhavan, interning with Congresswoman Grace Meng; Christina Lalani, interning at the World Bank; Vidhaath Sripathi, interning for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand; Priya Sundaresan, interning with Congressman Mike Honda; Ernest Rajakone, is interning with Congressman Joe Crowley and Nisha Deolalikar, interning at the Department of Labor.

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