His résumé already included a near-perfect score on the ACT, 15 Advanced Placement classes and a summer publishing research into neurological conditions, but now a Baton Rouge Magnet High senior has added a highly competitive college scholarship to the list.

Jay Iyer is one of 150 selected from 99,403 applicants from across the country to receive a $20,000 scholarship from the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. The foundation said Iyer not only showed superior leadership, service and academics, he is “a change agent, positively affecting others in the community.”

Jay and another senior at Baton Rouge Magnet High, Ju-Woo Nho, learned earlier this year they were regional finalists for this honor.

“We believe that identifying these young leaders throughout the country and encouraging their passion for serving others not only empowers the students, but also lifts up those around them.” said Jane Hale Hopkins, president of the foundation.

Jay, who wants to become a doctor, credits his achievements in part to his closeness to his grandfather, who died in February 2019 of a rare neurological disease. Jay said he vowed to spend his life trying to find cures for rare diseases like the one that killed his grandfather.

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Last summer, he worked as a research assistant on a team of neurological scientists based at UCLA. Iyer’s work centered around Huntington’s Disease, also a neurodegenerative disorder. He pored over large datasets, ultimately identifying more than 2,000 proteins associated with the disease. A paper he wrote on his work was judged as one of five best-written presentations at this year’s Research Science Institute, or RSI.

Jay has taken 15 Advanced Placement courses, earning top scores on all but four of the concluding exams in those classes. His résumé lists more than 50 academic awards and honors just since ninth grade. The summer between ninth and tenth grades, he took the ACT college placement exam for the first and only time. He earned a 35 out 36.

In September, he was named as a National Merit semifinalist. In December, he was accepted into Harvard University, which he plans to attend.

And earlier this year he was named one of eight seniors from his high school named as candidates for Presidential Scholar, an annual honor administered by the US Department of Education. Candidates have been identified as the top 40 seniors — half boys, half girls — in their respective states, based on ACT, SAT scores and nominations by State Departments of Education. The winners are honored with a reception at the White House with the President.

The Coca Cola Scholars foundation is a non-profit organization that works on behalf and at the direction of the soft drink company. It provides scholarships worth more than $3.4 million annually to about 1,400 students.


Email Charles Lussier at clussier@theadvocate.com and follow him on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier.