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This year’s Albert Dorman Honors College (ADHC) freshman class has already set records. The group is 43 percent female, includes 13 New Jersey Medical School students and boasts an average SAT score of 1475.

Aside from these fantastic figures, the incoming class is noteworthy for its geography. A sizable number of students are coming to NJIT from outside New Jersey, some from as far away as California.  

Let’s meet a few of ADHC’s newest out-of-state students.

KRISTEN ABRAHAM

Hometown: Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Major: Chemical Engineering

An AP Scholar with Distinction who graduated in the top 5 percent of her class at Cumberland Valley High School, Kristen Abraham decided to come to NJIT because of its strong engineering program, affordable cost and commitment to seeing its students succeed.

“I knew I wanted to attend NJIT during my first visit to the campus, when I saw firsthand the overall sense of community and school pride among the students and faculty,” said Abraham, who would like to be a math or chemistry tutor and get involved in the university’s chapters of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the American Chemical Society.

She also hopes to be an Honors Ambassador and explore other service opportunities, to build on her past civic engagement that includes being a Big Sister and volunteering for Feed My Starving Children, a Christian nonprofit that sends nutritious meals to hungry children worldwide.

While Abraham has garnered many accolades — National Honor Society and the Dauphin County Medical Society Alliance Award for Excellence and High Achievement in Science among them — she is most proud of her induction into her high school’s Hall of Fame for Mathematics, “due to all the time, effort and dedication I put into my math classes,” she noted. “Although it can be difficult, math has always been my favorite subject. Receiving this award was proof that hard work definitely does pay off!”

Being away from home, Abraham will certainly miss her parents (her father works in IT and her mother in transfusion medicine) and older brother (a doctoral student studying counseling). Fortunately, she won’t be too far from family — her cousin, Matthew Varghese, is also an Honors College freshman.

Fun Fact About Kristen: She studied Mandarin and Kung Fu and earned a yellow belt.

Honors student Kristen Abraham

DONALD ANDREWS

Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky

Major: Industrial Engineering

Donald Andrews, whose mother is a high school English teacher and father a geologist and research manager, is the first of all the children in his generation in his close-knit extended family (he has a younger sister and brother) to start college. He learned about NJIT while searching for engineering schools and knew it was the place for him after visiting the campus during his senior year at Henry Clay High School.

“I loved the urban campus, the size of the campus, the diversity and the resources available to students,” Andrews remarked. “I also got recruited to join the men’s volleyball team, so NJIT was the perfect combination of academics and athletics.”

He brings with him a stellar record from Henry Clay, where he earned a 4.9 weighted GPA, held a leadership position in the school’s Model UN Club, took 10 AP classes and was named both a National AP Scholar and an AP Scholar with Distinction. He also received the Henry Clay High School Faculty Cup, which is voted on by the entire faculty to recognize an outstanding graduating senior.

“When I got the award, I was told that the vote was nearly unanimous, which blew me away because my graduating class was made up of over 550 students,” said the National Merit Scholar. “That made the Faculty Cup the ultimate compliment, because I received such a strong education at my high school.”

At NJIT, Andrews wants to become involved in on-campus tutoring and the student chapter of Engineers Without Borders. And as for the Honors College? “I am really excited to meet a group of inquisitive, motivated people who come from different places and have different interests.”

Fun Fact About Donald: He is a two-time state semifinalist in doubles tennis.

Honors student Donald Andrews

KARTHIK BUDHARAJU

Hometown: Alexandria, Virginia

Major: Biology/Accelerated Seven-Year Medicine Program  

Karthik Budharaju first learned about NJIT through several colleagues of his parents who attended the university for graduate school (his mother is a software engineer and his father a communications engineer; his sister is studying data science and information technology). After seeing the campus and receiving a scholarship and acceptance into the Honors College, he chose to become a Highlander himself.

“When visiting the campus, I enjoyed the atmosphere and was impressed by the college’s emphasis on undergraduate research,” remarked Budharaju, a former research intern at Uniformed Services University/Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he co-wrote an abstract about transmembrane proteins that is awaiting publication in the next edition of “Molecular Biology of the Cell.”

This past May, at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, he co-presented findings concerning the natural processing of misfolded proteins and its implications in the pathogenesis of diseases such as Alzheimer’s. He and his partner placed fourth out of more than 100 in their category. “The experience was incredibly valuable, as I was able to present my research and learn about the groundbreaking investigations of my peers in so many facets of science,” he said. “Participating in this event affirmed my decision to make research a priority when deciding on and entering college.”

Budharaju has also realized noteworthy achievements overseas. While at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, he was selected from among the entire student body to attend a two-day leadership conference in Iceland in March 2016 on energy conservation. He then visited India that summer to shadow a gastroenterologist.

A National Merit Finalist, with a 1570 SAT score and 11 AP courses to his credit, Budharaju is excited to immerse himself in the advanced curriculum and challenging coursework of Honors-level classes. He also looks forward to performing community service and joining the Biology, Biomedical Engineering and Pre-Health Societies and other student clubs.  

Fun Fact About Karthik: He is a debate and spelling bee winner, and a black belt in karate.

Honors student Karthik Budharaju

ANNA WADHWA

Hometown: Fremont, California

Major: Biochemistry/Accelerated Seven-Year Medicine Program

Being accepted into the accelerated seven-year medicine program was what clinched Anna Wadhwa’s decision to attend the university, “especially because NJIT has a great biomed department with big-college opportunities and personalized small-college touches. Along that line, I had gotten the chance to have dinner with [Honors] Dean [Louis] Hamilton and Ms. [Lois] Chipepo when they visited California, and I really valued that opportunity because it showed me that NJIT will truly care about me as both a student and an individual.”

Still, moving across the country and being so far from her family will be tough, confesses Wadhwa, whose mother is a medicinal chemist and father an electronics engineer, and who is a big sister to 5-year-old twin girls. Another adjustment will be the weather: “It doesn’t even snow where I live in the Bay Area!”

Wadhwa’s background includes leading and coaching Science Olympiad teams during high school, completing a research internship at University of California Santa Cruz, and being named a National Merit Scholarship Finalist. She also received Mission San Jose High School’s Tower Award upon graduation for her outstanding contributions to the school and her class. “I was honored to receive the award this year, and I’m especially proud of it because I feel it serves as overarching recognition for all of the individual accomplishments I’ve had during high school,” said Wadhwa, who was her class valedictorian and scored a 1590 on her SAT and a 36 on her ACT. 

Additionally, Wadhwa is a gifted pianist, earning Grand Champion status in the Greater Bay Area Piano Competition, and receiving the Freemont Symphony Orchestra’s Young Composer Award for an original piano composition. She’s played the instrument for 13 years and has been teaching elementary-school children in beginning piano theory and performance since last summer.

She hopes to put her piano prowess to good use at NJIT for an a capella or musical theater group. She also wants to engage in biomedical research on campus, and is eager to interact with and learn from her fellow Dorman Scholars. 

Fun Fact About Anna: She memorized all the bones in the body for her seventh-grade biology class and still remembers most of them.

Honors student Anna Wadhwa