Life isn’t a competition for Sai Maddali. But you could understandably think that competition is his life.
Throughout his time at Northview High School in Johns Creek, Ga., the Georgia State University Presidential Scholar of the Class of 2021 was always seeking out that next challenge, the next achievement.
“Northview is a really competitive school, with all the negative and positive effects that go along with it,” said Sai. “My time in high school was spent trying to win the next competition, to get the next award or recognition, to put another line on my resume.”
“I look forward to taking part in the entire college experience at Georgia State: a good balance of the hard work and competition, along with the social and the downtime.”
If personal history is at all predictive for an incoming freshman, then the “downtime” component of that balance will be the one Sai needs the most help mastering.
Grades, internships, and extracurricular activities, Sai competed in all of them. Sai’s intended course of study at Georgia can be found at the nexus of these areas.
Sai plans to study computer science and programming, as well as pursue an interdisciplinary program with the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Institute. Opportunities outside the classrooms at Northview sparked his interest in these disciplines.
During his freshman year, Sai joined the Northview Techno Titans, the school’s competitive robotics team. For three years, he worked with his teammates to engineer and program 100-lb robots to compete in sports with other schools’ robots. After the teacher who led the robotics team left Northview, it fell to Sai and his teammates to raise the money they needed to continue competing. So, they developed a sponsorship plan, solicited local businesses and organizations to sponsor the Techno Titans, and raised $50,000.
Sai’s interest in computer programming also grew out of competitions sponsored by the Future Business Leaders of American (FBLA), whose Northview High School chapter Sai served as president of his senior year. Each year at the FBLA National Leadership Conference, the organization hosts competitions in a wide range of disciplines. Sai participated in their Mobile Application Development and Website Design competitions his last two years of high school. At 2017’s competition in Anaheim, CA, Sai placed fifth nationally in mobile app development and fourth nationally in website design.
He somehow also found time to mentor other students through the TiE Atlanta Young Entrepreneurs program. In his freshman year, Sai got involved with the organization, participating in a regional competition for creating a company concept and business plan for it, then presenting them to a group of mock investors. After winning the region, and then placing first nationally, Sai continued in the following years to mentor other TiE students and help them prepare for competition.
Summers were no less busy. He interned for an Atlanta startup one summer and then earned a sales internship for Rigor, the largest startup in Atlanta Tech Village, the next year. For the following summer, he was asked back by Rigor to serve as product manager intern.
In computer programming and entrepreneurship, Sai found disciplines he was passionate about. Meanwhile, he had benefitted from day-in, day-out lessons in the value doggedness and hard work.
When it came time to choose his college, Sai had a clear choice.
“The Presidential Scholarship allows me to provide for my own education and take pride in not putting financial stress on my parents,” said Sai. “Georgia State has the types of programs I wanted and offers the flexibility to allow me to pursue my own interdisciplinary course of study. Though I had great opportunities with other schools, the choice was easy.”
It seems probable that Sai will continue to track down competitions to pour his academic and extracurricular passions into. As a Panther, he’ll have no problem finding them. Achieving the downtime and balance he has expressed interest in might prove to be a whole new and challenging ballgame, however.