Lass Aneesha ‘Supergirl’ Nayak of St Aloysius PUC bags Gold at I-Fest for IInd Time

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Lass Aneesha ‘Supergirl’ Nayak of St Aloysius PUC bags Gold at I-Fest for IInd Time

Mangaluru: She has once again added yet another feather to her cap. She was the first Indian to participate at I-Fest (International Festival of Engineering, Science & Technology) held at Tunisia in January, 2017, where she won the gold medal, for her project “Hydrophobicity of Colocasia as a surface protector”. She was then guided by Sadhana P Hebbar, a teacher at Sudana High School, Puttur. And recently she won gold medal, representing India for the second consecutive year at I-Fest 2018 (International Festival of Engineering, Science & Technology), at Tunisia held between March 16th – 24th, 2018. The project was titled “Unearthing the chemical components responsible for the antibacterial components of Plectranthus amboinicus”- and this time she was guided by Nivedita Nithyananda, a Biology lecturer at St. Aloysius PU College, Mangalore. More than 250 projects from 25 countries were presented there.

Prior to these two awards, as the youngest participant at the age of 14, she represented India at I-SWEEEP (International Sustainable World Energy Environment & Engineering Project Olympiad) held at Houston, Texas, USA in April 2016. Among 585 projects from 62 countries she won a bronze medal for India in her category In this lass it shows, no matter what, you must simply continue doing what you do and being you. There’s nothing in the world that can stop you, nothing at all! No doubt she has come a long way. She believes in following her dreams and sends a strong message to our young readers that continue with your passion and not let anything affect your mental stability and inner peace.

Aneesha Nayak seen with St Aloysius PU College Principal Fr Melwyn Mendonca Sj and her Biology Lecturer, Nivedita Nithyananda

Meet 16-year-old “Supergirl” Aneesha Nayak, fondly called as “Anee” by her family members, relatives and friends, an academician pursuing her First year PU at St Aloysius Pre-University College-Mangaluru is a perfect example as to how girls are outsmarting the boys in academic, sports and co-curricular activities. She is all geared up to achieve anything a boy can achieve, and has been judged solely on her intelligence and positive qualities, not on her gender. Women these days have become superheroes, astronauts, scientists and what not. Yes, Females can do anything men can do. Girls can like anything boys can like. And this “Supergirl” Aneesha has proved that feminine gender can fair well and do well too, and not just the masculine gender. Oh well, that’s okay with me. You Go Girl, and keep rockin’!

Raised by a single mother, Aneesha through her smartness, determination and perseverance has made her mother proud, and also at such a young age has brought name and fame to her family, college and above all, her Country. With all the support she could get from her mother, Shaila Bhakta, who is employed at an IT firm in City, Aneesha is a perfect example of a ‘Smart Daughter’, which a mother always looks for. With no funding from the government and only with partial funding from well-wishers and friends, it was Aneesha’s mother who was determined to support her daughter’s expenses no matter what financial hardship she faced- and in the end, her efforts helped in reaching her daughter to greater heights and earn high accolades from all quarters. Last year Shaila {January 2017} couldn’t be in Tunisia to witness her daughter receive the Gold medal, but this year {March 2018} accompanying Aneesha to Tunisia, she was cheering her daughter during the awards ceremony.

Apart from being sharp in academics scoring 92% in her High School Board exams, Aneesha is also the youngest female surfing prodigy who is also sharp in sports as well. Aneesha who is taking surfing to new heights in India and Internationally on being India’s youngest woman has earned many laurels in this sport. Surfing in India has never got the boost it deserves as a sport. Yet, there are many along the coast who compete and win laurels for India- and among these silent sportsmen stands this young lass, Aneesha, who was one among the first four and one of the youngest Indian surfer girls to ever participate in Asian Surfing Championship, 2015.

At the National Surfing events, Aneesha had won 3rd place in Covelong Point Surf classic, 2015 at Covelong, Chennai; Mahabs Surf Classic, 2015 at Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu – 3rd place; Manapad surf Classic, 2015 at Manapad Surf Resort, Tamil Nadu – 2nd in stand up paddling & 3rd in sea kayaking; and Covelong Point Surf classic, 2014 at Covelong, Chennai – 3rd place; among many other laurels. Her participation in Environment Management & Pollution related contests, Aneesha bagged Gold Medal at INSEF (Indian Science & Engineering Fair) National Fair held at Rajkot on January 10th, 2016 in the National level; and in the regional level, she also won Gold medal at INSEF (Indian Science & Engineering Fair) held at Pilikula, Mangaluru on November 22nd, 2015.

Aneesha received Recognition by The Science Society of India, when she had helped her fellow competitors from Rajkot (who couldn’t attend the event) to present their project and helped them win an ‘Honourable Mention Award’ at I-SWEEEP. The SSI (Science Society of India) recognized her gesture as a noble one and highly appreciated her for the same. Aneesha was also featured in International documentaries “Chicks on Boards”-documented by Döerthe Eickelberg; and “Wild Women”-documented by Kopal Goyal. Youngest surfers from India Aneesha Nayak and Sinchana D Gowda, students of Sudana Residential School, Puttur were featured in the documentary by Doerthe Eickelberg, a journalist and surfer from Germany.

“The documentary was all about women surfers across the world. Four girls including Sinchana and Aneesha, a girl from Afghan and Indonesia telling the world how difficult it is to be a surfer in these ‘stereotyped’ countries,” said Aneesha. Explaining about how they met Doerthe and how the idea was conceptualized, Aneesha said, “It all happened during the surfing event at the Covelong Point Surf Classic, when me and Sinchana met Doerthe. She questioned us about the obstacles we faced while pursuing our passion for surfing. When we shared our experiences, she was saddened to learn about the mindset in Indian society towards girl surfers. To educate world about these issues, she conceptualized a film on girl surfers across the world. The Afghan girl had to cover herself fully to surf and it was so hard for her. The documentary was set to depict the odds faced by Indian women surfers, educate more women to come forward and urge them to make a foray in the male-dominated sports “

Funding is one of the biggest problems that the surfers are facing nowadays. Also, it has become a reason why many surfers are choosing other sports over surfing in India. Surfing prodigy, Aneesha said, “There is not enough support for the surfers as most of the people are focused on mainstream sports, if there will be more support for the surfers then India can achieve a lot in surfing. The surfing sport can be made much more popular in India with the help of a movie, It was a surfing movie in the U.S. that helped in making surfing popular in the country, and it is an excellent manner to promote sports in any country, India should also try to make one movie on surfing as it might get much more people interested in surfing.”

Following are the excerpts from the exclusive interview with Aneesha Nayak:

Q: How was your reaction when you won the Gold at the I-Fest once again?

A: I felt ecstatic! Representing the country and winning gold for it once itself is a great privilege, this time I felt very humbled and honoured to do it again.

Q: Whom do you owe your success in this I-Fest, and why?

A: I owe my success to my guide, Nivedita Nithyananda because without her none of this would be possible. Right from the conception of the idea to the printing of the poster, she has been by my side without fail.

Q: Regarding your project, how did you conceive the idea for the project?

A: Constant brainstorming sessions with my guide every evening after classes led to the conception and hypothesis of this project.

Q: Did you come across any challenges during the project?

A: We had to approach many laboratories to conduct our work, all of which was possible only after class hours. We did face a monetary setback which otherwise would have been a smooth journey had we received some funding.

Q: How did you manage funding for your travel?

A: I was able to procure a good amount by blogging on Steemit and the rest from crowdfunding. Therefore, I was able to look after my travel expenses.

Q: What is the future for this project?

A: We plan to continue our work as the results were very impressive. We’ll be further working on it on hopeful grounds that we will receive some funding from the general masses.

Q: How does it feel to represent India at the I-Fest, and also at the surfing events?

A: I feel very proud. I feel overwhelmed, especially, when I see the National flag fluttering and listen to the National Anthem. To me, representing India means a lot. Representing the whole country and its citizens is such a pressurized situation to be in but at the same time one of the most beautiful feeling too.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

A: There are so many things I need and want to learn, improve and change about myself. I hope to strive and achieve the same. I believe everyone to be good, no matter how many faults they may carry, I always focus on the good. It’s good but at times it’s harmful to self.

Q: What do you have to say about St Aloysius PUC and your tutors there?

A: I have received immense support from the Principal, the Vice Principal & the Department of Biology. In general, St. Aloysius PU College provides a very conducive environment for personal and professional growth of the students.

Q: What are your future plans after graduation?

A: I would like to achieve a balance between my surfing career and my love for science. Therefore, a course in biological sciences is what I will be opting for.

Q: Tell us in brief about Surfing career?

A: I started surfing at the age of 12 and by the support I’ve received from my mother {Shaila Bhakta} I have been able to progress in this sport. I have participated in many surf events for the last few years and have been going on training tours, nationally and internationally. I am a member of Mantra Surf Club, Mulki, where I’ve received great encouragement and support from the whole team. I want to be a Professional surfer, and my priority will always be surfing and studies is just for a backup. Although people want me to make a career with the help of education because I’m good at it but my soul gets completed when I’m on my surfboard,” she added.

Q: What is your biggest inspiration?

A: The thing with me and inspiration is such that I get inspired by each and every person I meet. Everyone inspires me in their own ways.

Q: What would be your message to budding surfers?

A: This is not only directed to budding surfers but also to all the youth out there who have found or are yet to find their passion. I believe in following your passion to stay happy.

Team Mangalorean wishes this Budding Scientist and Upcoming Surfer all the success in her endeavours. You Go Girl!


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1 Comment

  1. Congratulations to Ms. Aneesha Nayak on her outstanding research work in Biology. She has indeed made her family, her Institution, her state
    Karnataka, and her country India proud.

    Yes, sadly government funds do not come easily to those gifted with talents and skills because in India, everything requires politics – someday, Aneesha too will be given an MP recognition, and funds will flow automatically from the government.

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