Vivek Pokala, Age 14
Schools: Young Genius Learning Center in Saratoga, eighth-grader at Lawson Middle School, Cupertino
- Straight A student at Sam H. Lawson Middle School
- National Junior Honor Society student
- National Junior Speech/Debate League member with Young Genius Bay Area Debate Academy
- Competitive elite soccer player for De Anza Force Soccer Club
- Received “high honors” award for SAT math section from College Board
- Youngest volunteer at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation
- Created a brochure on “running nutrition” for the Palo Alto Medical Foundation which is published on the PAMF website
- Won three rounds at first speech and debate tournament at James Logan High School as a part of Young Genius Speech/Debate Academy.
- Stanford EPGY member
- School soccer player for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade
Key to Awesomeness:
“Vivek is an ingenious and talented young man who likes to explore to innovative ideas and think outside the box,” said Vivek’s dad, VJ Pokala. “He has always had a strong passion for learning and pushes himself to the level of eminence.”
Vivek knew he had a great passion for soccer when he joined AYSO, a recreation soccer program. He had been playing for four years and had excelled in his soccer skills. Vivek wanted to challenge himself and take on “real soccer” so he joined a competitive soccer club called, De Anza Force, said dad.
“De Anza Force has changed my life and the way I play soccer,” says Vivek, adding that his coach, Mike Arzabal, has helped him throughout his seasons of De Anza Force.
“Vivek makes coaches want to be there,” said Coach Arzabal. “Vivek is diligent, selfless, and focused--a list of athletic cliches that all very much apply in this situation. In the time I have been involved with Vivek Pokala, I have known few to come at the game with as genuine and proud of an effort. These qualities lend themselves to consistency and success. He will be, and has been, an asset on and off the field.”
Vivek has a strong interest in learning about health. He had joined a summer program, which met his interest. Dr. Nancy Brown, his mentor, has been an inspirational guide at the summer program. “Mrs. Brown is a mentor I will never forget in my life.” said Vivek.
Vivek is the youngest student to complete the Summer Wellness Education and Training (SWEAT) Program at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and is a promising student, said Brown.
“Vivek applied to and was accepted to our 2012 SWEAT program, a seven-week summer training program for youth interested in health. Because of his age, I paired Vivek with an older student and let him know he could complete fewer of the assignments if he chose to. In fact, the older student did not follow through and Vivek completed his project alone, presenting to a large group of parents, students and PAMF staff at our final meeting 10/20/12.
"Vivek’s final project was a brochure on nutrition for long-distance teen runners – which we plan to have medically reviewed and make available on our PAMF website. Vivek is an amazing young man, one who I know will succeed at anything he sets his mind to, and enriching the lives of anyone lucky enough to touch his path,” Brown said in an email interview.
Vivek also likes to participate in speech and debate at the Young Genius Bay Area Debate Academy, which used to headquartered in Los Gatos and has now moved to Saratoga. Young Genius’ coach Stacy Dawson has guided him to win three rounds at his first speech and debate tournament.
Vivek is also working on an iPhone app with a partner that may be released in late 2013 to early 2014. He also has plans to become a young author and write a book. He was inspired by his 18-year-old cousin who also wrote a book.