15-year-old alumnus receives prestigious award at Vatican

15-year-old alumnus receives prestigious award at Vatican

Photo Credits: TAJI ABRAHAM / COURTESY

Tanishq Abraham awarded for outstanding achievement in STEM fields

In 2001, the International Association of Culture and Voluntary Work created the International Giuseppe Sciacca award sponsored by the Vatican, which distinguishes individuals who have contributed in the fields of science, arts, technology and humanitarian work. In addition to individual awards given out to individuals that excel in their specialties, an overall winner, Vincitore Assoluto, is chosen by the association. Over the past 17 years, the winner of the Vincitore Assoluto has been someone who has exemplified educational and moral excellence.

On Oct. 27, 2018 15 year-old UC Davis alumnus Tanishq Abraham was awarded the Vincitore Assoluto award. Abraham, along with his parents and his 12-year-old sister, Tiara Abraham (who also won an award), took a trip to the Vatican to receive their honors.

“There were many different categories for the awards like science, math and music and my sister actually also won an award for music,” Abraham said. “The absolute award is chosen from different categories, which is what I was nominated for and won.”

The ceremony takes place at Pontifical Urbaniana University and is attended by over 550 guest including awardees and their families, government and military officials, dignitaries and press from around the world.

Last spring, Abraham graduated from Davis with a degree in biomedical engineering. In the fall of 2018, Abraham began his higher education studies and is now pursuing a Ph.D. at UC Davis. During his two years at Davis as an undergraduate, Abraham participated in the annual make-a-thon, researched artificial cells in a campus laboratory, presented his research at multiple conference and published a literature paper. Abraham was honored as the Absolute Winner due to his inspiring determination to contribute to scientific advancement at such a young age. Abraham has influenced people around the world with his passion for science and humility.

“After graduating Davis and [having] summer break I was rotating in labs and this past fall, I completed my first quarter as a grad student at Davis and its been going really well […] it’s been exciting to get to work on projects again,” Abraham said. “I received an email in April notifying me that I had gotten a reward called the Giuseppe Sciacca award […] I was honored to receive the award, and my family and I were invited to receive the award at the Vatican in late October. It was super exciting because it was my first time visiting the Vatican, and I got to meet a lot of distinguished people at the ceremony.”

Also awarded in the youth category was Abraham’s younger sister, Tiara, a 12-year-old music prodigy. Tiara started her musical career at the age of five and has performed in multiple world-renowned concert halls such as Carnegie Hall and Musikverein (Vienna, Austria). Tiara is the youngest member of the UC Davis University Chorus and hopes to follow in her brother’s footsteps and pursue higher education at Davis.

Following the award ceremony, the Abraham family attended mass inside St. Peter’s Basilica along with the Pope and 300 cardinals. In addition to their time in the Vatican, the Abraham’s were invited to visit a bollywood set in Greece by bollywood producer Ravi Dhariyal who is another recipient of the Sciacca award.

“I got to meet some really cool people from around the world and it was an honor to be a part of the ceremony and receive the award from the Cardinal,” Abraham said. “Keep working hard and follow your passion and [know] that you are having fun doing it.”

Written by: Sneha Ramachandran — features@theaggie.org