2023 Scholarship Winners

Champion Energy is committed to supporting our community as we work to power lives and businesses. The Champion Scholars program was created to recognize those that share this commitment. Now in its ninth year, we’re proud to announce that this program has awarded $90,000 in scholarships to 23 deserving students looking to further their education.

This year we received applications from many impressive students across Texas. Applications were evaluated based on academic performance, awards, volunteerism and an essay response to this question: Think about the role of a champion, whether in or out of school, for their peers, family, or community. What are the characteristics and/or values that they exemplify which make them a champion? In your essay, please describe how you are a champion.

We are very proud to recognize the Champion Scholars for 2023:

$5,000 Champion Scholars Award

Lavik Jain is the recipient of the $5,000 Champion Scholars award. He currently attends Centennial High School in Frisco, TX.

Lavik is co-inventor of “SuicideWatch” (projectsuicidewatch.org): a machine learning model which detects suicidal social media posts and then notifies local resources such as mental health nonprofits, police departments, and crisis hotlines to provide assistance to the identified individuals. To date they have connected more than 700 individuals with mental health support partners across the nation, including Texas Health and Human Services and Mental Health America of Dutchess. Lavik and his co-founder have been featured on FOX News, after which many relevant experts including Google Executive, Kelly Gibson, reached out to them to offer support in the growth of SuicideWatch. Their provisional patent application for the technology powering SuicideWatch was recently approved by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office.

Lavik also cofounded an organization at Centennial High School called “Explore. Design. Solve!” [EDS] (exploredesignsolve.org) which focuses on developing STEM-based initiatives that directly impact the local community. Their projects have been featured in local news outlets CanvasRebel and Voyage Dallas. EDS has now grown into an international program with branches established in 17 schools across 3 countries and 9 US states.

Some hobbies Lavik enjoys are playing basketball, soccer, cricket, and volleyball. He also likes to dance to Hindi Bollywood music. During the summer before college, he plans on spending quality time with his family and friends, traveling, reading, exloring, and meeting new people.

Lavik will attend Harvard University where he will major in one or a combination of Computer Science, Physics, and Mathematics.

Quote from Lavik:

Taking the risk of acting upon needed change is the first step toward making my mark on society. That’s why I took a shot at using my skills in AI to bridge the gap between suicidal individuals and the organizations that could help them. That’s why I cofounded EDS, a project-based program empowering other students to explore STEM by taking their own risks. And that’s why, in college, I will continue to channel my strengths toward spearheading even larger initiatives that will contribute to society.



$3,000 Champion Scholars Award

Akaash Kolluri is the recipient of the $3,000 Champion Scholars award. He currently attends William P. Clements High School in Sugar Land, TX.

In 2021, Akaash coorganized a free computer science summer camp for ninety 4th- 8th grade students under Steel City Codes (SCC)—a nonprofit providing free computer science education to students, especially those historically underserved, that has served 7500+ students to date. After camp Akaash became SCC’s Director of Summer Programs which entailed leading volunteers across 11 cities, planning 16 free camps and teaching Java and Python to over 600 students.

Since taking over as CEO of Steel City Codes this year, Akaash has spearheaded various initiatives to further expand SCC’s community. Among these initiatives are his work to expand GirlsHack, SCC's weekly program which aims to teach young women about influential women in computer science, and his recruitment of Spanish-speaking tutors to teach ESL students translated curriculum. As CEO he’s learned the intricacies of nonprofit administration, including: budget allocation, sponsorship solicitation, contracting and management of over 200 volunteers.

In his free time Akaash enjoys baking, especially with friends. One of his favorite pastries to experiment with is macarons. He will greatly miss his friends as well as Houston’s food scene when he leaves for college this fall.

Akaash will be attending Stanford University where he will major in Computer Science.

Quote from Akaash:

In my mind, a champion is a leader that inspires and empowers others to find their voice. I have become a champion by teaching others computer science at SCC. Through sharing my love of computer science with others, Steel City Codes has enabled me to guide others toward success within computer science and help them become champions. Studying computer science in college, I am determined to use my voice to continue to advocate for greater structural accessibility to computer science education. With equal opportunities for all, anyone and everyone interested in computer science can become a champion.

$2,000 Champion Scholars Award

Kanthi Makineedi is the recipient of the $2,000 Champion Scholars award. She currently attends McNeil High School in Round Rock, TX.

This past summer, Kanthi had the opportunity to work with immigrant children at the ASPIRE family literacy program. She worked with many students who went to schools with limited technology and few avenues to develop their interests. Eager to continue helping students with similar hurdles, Kanthi and a friend founded FLY, a career-development program led by high school students who teach leadership, finance, and technology at under-resourced elementary schools.

After months of debate, outreach and curriculum development FLY is now supporting hundreds of students across Austin. Through it all, Kanthi says she most enjoyed getting to know the impacted students – their struggles, their passions, and their individual journeys.

Kanthi will miss her teachers, friends, and family when she moves to Durham for college. She has a special place in her heart for Austin’s vibrant community and can’t wait to become part of the tight-knit and diverse community at Durham. Kanthi describes herself as outdoorsy and loves spending time exploring whether it is rollerblading, paddleboarding, or hiking. In college, she looks forward to learning how to surf and working towards a skydiving license. Kanthi also enjoys experimenting with different mediums of visual arts and learning new instruments.

Kanthi plans to study Economics and Computer Science at Duke University.

Quote from Kanthi:

I believe that champions are leaders with a genuine desire to understand the people they serve. As a nonprofit entrepreneur, I will enable individuals, governments, and corporations to collectively serve the common good. I aim to leverage technological innovation to improve equity in education, especially in countries lacking educational infrastructure. With the support of the Champion Scholarship Award, I will continue to innovate so we can turn education from a commodity into a human right.