Indira Puri ’12 is, in a word, extraordinary. As a student at Durham Academy, she was a National Merit Finalist, was inducted into Cum Laude as a junior and was named one of North Carolina’s two U.S. Presidential Scholars for 2012.
In February, the Stanford University senior earned one of school’s most selective recognitions — the J.E. Wallace Sterling Award for Scholastic Achievement.
The award honors the top 25 graduating seniors in the School of Humanities and Sciences for their efforts and academic achievements throughout their undergraduate education.
But Stanford’s Sterling Award also bestows an extra perk upon each recipient — and it’s one that makes the award truly unique. Each awardee has the opportunity to name the high school teacher or mentor who was the most influential in guiding them during the formative stages of their academic career, and Stanford then invites that mentor to the award luncheon so they can be honored in person.
For Puri, that person was Kathy Cleaver. On Saturday, DA’s co-director of college counseling “flew to California for lunch” courtesy of Stanford’s travel arrangements to celebrate Puri’s achievement.
“Every single high school person that was there, you just felt incredibly honored to be among these incredibly, incredibly accomplished kids and their professors,” Cleaver said. “But to have a student think back to who was their mentor in high school who really helped them get to where they are now is quite a remarkable thing for Stanford to do.”
During the award ceremony, Cleaver thanked Stanford for “recognizing the beauty, grace and fierce determination of this inspiring young woman … her brilliant mind is coupled with a deep understanding and empathy for others.”
Puri thanked Cleaver for being there for her, no matter when she was needed. "Mrs. Cleaver has a gift for seeing the potential in every student," says Puri, "it was my great fortune to have her guidance and support."
Puri will graduate from Stanford with a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences with honors in Economics, and a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Math.