In a first, Kavitha Gopal, a student from the Indian Institute Technology, Madras won the President of India Prize. Kavitha is now a graduate with a B. Tech degree in Computer Science and Engineering, is currently working at Google India, Bengaluru, as a software engineer. On Monday, she created history by becoming the first girl student ever to win the coveted prize, The Hindu reported.

Kavitha’s score was a CGPA of 9.95. She also receives two other honours — the Bharat Ratna M. Visvesvaraya Memorial Prize and the B. Ravichandran Memorial Prize for the highest CGPA in B. Tech CSE.

This is the first time that the President of India Gold Medal has been given to a girl student. Only male students had been winning the prize for years at the institute. Thus ending the long male-dominated legacy of the prestigious honour.

“I enjoyed my course work and worked diligently,” said the engineer who received the prize and medals from Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Institute’s 56th convocation. She had also participated in extracurricular activities included the international collegiate programming contest of the Association for Computing Machinery.

Talking about the excitement of having received such a huge honour, she said to The News Minute, “It’s a dream come true to be graduating from IIT Madras. I have some thrilling plans for my future and it involves coding.” Kavitha was interested in computers and coding when she took up the subject in her 11th class.  “I moved to Kendriya Vidyalaya, Kalpakkam, after studying in the Atomic Energy Central School in Anupuram until 10th. In KV, I was exposed to Computer Science and programming languages as part of my 11th class syllabus and there’s been no looking back ever since,” she says.

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“I scheduled my days to include both academic prep and other interests. I used to play basketball in school and in college too, I played the sport as part of the National Sports Organisation (NSO),” she adds.

Talking about encouraging more women to take up STEM, she added, “I hope that more women take up computer science if they develop an interest for it. My batch had only 10 girls out of 60 students and this says a lot about the ratio of girls and boys taking up the subject. But we need to realise that the future is computer science — think Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning etc.”

Feature Image Credit: Jagran Josh

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