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Recent MCVTS grad wins coveted Jefferson Scholarship

Recent MCVTS grad wins coveted Jefferson Scholarship

The pandemic has delayed some of the plans made by Avaneen Pinninti of Piscataway, a recent graduate of the Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies in Edison.

But he will be heading to the University of Virginia later this month with a prestigious Jefferson Scholarship.

He had hoped to have his private pilot’s license before he left for college after beginning lessons last year, but the quarantine closed the flight school for several months.

And one of the benefits of the scholarship selection process was to be five days on campus for interviews by faculty and alumni, which had be done remotely because of COVID-19, so he will be seeing the campus for the first time when he moves in.

More than 2,000 students applied for the scholarship, one of the most selective in the nation. Avaneen was one of 119 finalists and one of 32 recipients of the all-expenses scholarship.

When he began looking at colleges, he sought an outstanding engineering program, a diverse student body, and interest by the student body in a broad range of subjects. He will major in computer science but also hopes to take courses in law and politics.

“I honestly wasn’t sure of my chances in general,” he said of being admitted to U.Va., much less of winning one of the coveted scholarships. “But I thought, ‘Why not apply?’”

He said the small student body at the Edison Academy, one of the five campuses of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools, fostered an atmosphere of collaboration and problem-solving that will serve him well in college.

“The small population of the school puts you in a situation where you have to sit down and find common ground to solve a problem,” Avaneen said. “It puts you in a situation where you have to think more critically, think outside the box.”

“This is a great accomplishment for Avaneen,” said Edison Academy Principal John Jeffries. “This opportunity will open many doors for him in the future, as he will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of special programming with his cohort during his time at U.Va.”

The son of Sreenivas Pinninti and Lakshmi Anmala, both IT professionals, Avaneen has a 10-year-old sister, Apoorva.

During his time at the Edison Academy, Avaneen majored in electrical and computer engineering, posting an excellent academic record. He was a member of Junior State of America, Future Business Leaders of America, the Technology Student Association, the National Honor Society, and the varsity soccer team.

An avid debater, he was Junior State lieutenant governor for the Mid-Atlantic region, where he oversaw activism, fundraising, expansion, the summer program, and debate events.

He placed first in the 2019 Future Business Leaders State Entrepreneurship Competition and was a member of the 2019 Technology Student Association national first-place team.

In addition to receiving the full cost of attending the university for four years, Jefferson Scholars benefit from enrichment programs sponsored by the foundation, including travel abroad, career networking activities, an outdoor challenge program, and a leadership speaker series.

The Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District, the first full-time county vocational school district in the nation, has campuses in East Brunswick, Edison, Perth Amboy, Piscataway, and Woodbridge, offering 34 career majors. The Perth Amboy Campus, the Edison Academy and the Woodbridge Academy have been named National Blue Ribbon Schools. The Edison Academy also was singled out as one of the nation’s best public high schools – and the best in New Jersey -- by U.S. News & World Report.