2023 Milken ScholarsPhoto 16 of 21
Thanks to Riya Singh, salutatorian at Townsend Harris High School in Flushing, students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are less isolated. As president of the school's No Buddy Left Behind club, Riya leads more than two dozen volunteers in building relationships with students at nearby P255Q, a school focused on children and teens on the spectrum. The club holds holiday parties and game nights, raises funds, and pairs volunteers with P255Q students as pen pals. Volunteers visit P255Q daily to help students with math, writing and in-person conversation. No Buddy Left Behind, which has grown significantly under Riya's leadership, also educates the Townsend Harris community about ASD via schoolwide seminars and electronic leaflets.
Riya is a QuestBridge National College Match Recipient and AP Scholar with Distinction. She received the Quest for Excellence New Americans Award and is a member of the National Honor Society, New York State Science Honor Society, Robotics/Engineering Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society, and ARCHON, the National Honor Service Honor Society. Riya developed a website on women's empowerment during the Girls Who Code summer immersion program, attended NASA's Minority University Research and Education Project Aerospace Academy, and studied climate change in the Columbia Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics Coding Bootcamp. As multimedia editor of The Classic, a student-led publication at Townsend Harris, Riya oversees a team of contributors and works on all aspects of video production from concept to execution and promotion.
Riya serves as an assistant coach for her former middle school debate team, building students' confidence in public speaking and teaching members about finding credible sources, recognizing bias in evidence and formulating strong arguments. The team now consistently ranks in New York City's top 10 and competes in city and state tournaments. Riya judges monthly competitions and state championships for the New York City Urban Debate League, providing detailed feedback to competitors after each outing.
Riya will study computer science at Yale and plans a career in artificial intelligence.
All photos should be credited to "Milken Family Foundation" unless otherwise noted.