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Turlock teen starts scholarship fund at Stan State
Ashish Thakur
Turlock teen Ashish Thakur recently established a Science Foundation Scholarship, donating a gift of $10,000 to Stanislaus State which will help up to 40 students from underserved backgrounds pursue their education in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program (Journal file photo).

From playing sports to singing in choir, Turlock has provided 15-year-old Ashish Thakur with a myriad of opportunities, shaping him into the person he is today. At Stanislaus State, youth-geared programs Thakur has participated in since age six sparked in him a love for the sciences, inspiring him to tutor high school students, host computer coding camps and even work to increase awareness for childhood diabetes. Now, the high school junior is giving back to the university in a big way.

Thakur recently established the Ashish Thakur Science Foundation Scholarship, donating a gift of $10,000 to Stanislaus State which will help up to 40 students from underserved backgrounds pursue their education in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program. He advocated for financial support from local business groups, physicians’ offices and community leaders in order to raise the funds, determined to make a difference in the community that has become so important to him.

“My family and I moved to Turlock in 2006, making it the only home I’ve ever really known,” Thakur said. “I’ve received so much from this community — especially California State University, Stanislaus — and I feel like now is really the time for me to give back because I’m appreciative of all it’s done for me.”

As part of the International Baccalaureate program at Modesto High School, Thakur is an accomplished student, even skipping his sophomore year. Beginning in first grade he regularly attended workshops, classes and projects at Stanislaus State, like the HiMap mathematics program, the Central Valley Writing Project and multiple other summer writing programs. Thakur also often found help from university faculty members on STEM research projects.

In giving back to the school that has provided him with so much, Thakur said he chose the Family Nurse Practitioner Program because it will help not only students who benefit from the scholarship foundation, but also the individuals they eventually care for. In addition, he didn’t want anyone’s financial burdens to hold them back from achieving their dreams of becoming a nurse.

“I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to advance their education further, and shouldn’t be limited by a possible disadvantaged background — especially careers that are so integral to helping those around them,” Thakur said.

Thakur has also worked to advocate for health education and access to healthcare in the region, joining forces with faculty members in the College of Science at Stanislaus State to pursue science research. Along with his sister Shivani, Thakur and Stanislaus State Biology professor Mark Grobner worked on a radiofrequency thermal ablation model for surgical application in vein therapy and health. Shivani’s paper on their research was published in the scientific journal, The American Surgeon.

Thakur knows that the same opportunities made available to him at Stanislaus State can benefit others as well, and hopes to raise awareness and visibility for those programs amongst local K-12 students. Walnut Elementary School and Turlock Junior High School will both also benefit from Thakur’s scholarship foundation next month, when he presents five students at each campus with $100 scholarships.

“I feel proud that I’m able to find a way to give back to a community that has already given so much to me, and an establishment I feel is really beneficial to the education of this area,” Thakur said.