17-year-old Dubai student in top 50 Global Student Prize 2023 shortlist


A UAE student has been named in the top 50 Global Student Prize 2023 shortlist. Seventeen-year-old Vansh Gadhia, who studies at Dubai College in the UAE, was selected from almost 4000 applications from 122 countries.

The annual Chegg.org $100,000 award is given to one exceptional student who made a real impact on learning, the lives of their peers, and on society beyond. A Kenyan native, Vansh Gadhia, is committed to fighting inequality and has outstanding achievements in international debating, speaking, mathematics, and coding competitions.

The Varkey Foundation partnered with Chegg.org to launch the annual Global Student Prize in 2021 to create a platform that celebrates the efforts of extraordinary students. The prize is open to all students at least 16 years old and enrolled in an academic institution or training and skills program. Part-time students, as well as students enrolled in online courses, are also eligible for the prize.

Vansh’s achievements

When he was diagnosed with short-sightedness and required glasses as a 10-year-old, it sparked a thought in young Vansh’s mind about how Kenya’s underprivileged children could afford such glasses.

After coming across an NGO called Lions Club International, which was doing eye testing for the underprivileged was available, Gadhia approached Al Jaber Opticals for help manufacturing free glasses. Throughout the project, they tested 63,000 Kenyan children from rural parts of the country and provided 500 free frames with tailor-made lenses.

For the last two years, Vansh has been a member of the Old Books for New Eyes initiative, set up by his sister, Khushi Gadhia, whom he mentors. The initiative aims to provide old and used storybooks to underprivileged children across Africa to enhance literacy over the continent. He has played an important role in sorting over 25,000 storybooks into various categories and packing them into boxes that were then shipped to Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Gadhia also started a project that applies machine learning to identify individuals at high risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes in Kenya. He has found a correlation between Type 2 Diabetes and some tribal ethnicities and is now studying to understand the underlying reasons for such patterns. Vansh founded the Computer Science Society at Dubai College to enhance his peers’ skill and exposure to computer science. The society enrolled more than 80 students actively participating in discussions, projects, and competitions such as Hackathons.

History of Global Student Prize

UAE students have a history of excelling in the Chegg.org Global Student Prize, with two being featured in the top 50 shortlist last year: Amiteash Paul, a 19-year-old Biology student at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), and Maya Bridgman, a 17-year-old Canadian student at Dubai College, who went on to make the top 10. In 2021, UAE student Lamya Butt, currently studying at Stanford University, also went on to make it to the top 10.

Last year’s winner was Ukrainian teenager Igor Klymenko, a 17-year-old student from Kyiv, Ukraine, who moved to the countryside at the start of the Russian attack to finish his final year of high school. Sheltered in the basement of his new home, Igor completed his studies while refining the mine-detecting drone he had been working on for eight years. He was selected as the winner of the 2022 Chegg.org Global Student Prize from over 7,000 applications from more than 150 countries.

The first winner in 2021 was Jeremiah Thoronka, a 21-year-old student from Sierra Leone, who launched a start-up called Optim Energy that transforms vibrations from vehicles and pedestrian footfall on roads into an electric current. With just two devices, the start-up provided free electricity to 150 households comprising around 1,500 citizens, as well as 15 schools where more than 9,000 students attend.

The top 10 finalists of the Global Student Prize are expected to be announced in August this year. The winner, who will be announced later in the year, will be chosen from the top 10 finalists by the Global Student Prize Academy, made up of prominent individuals.


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