The U.S. Congress handed out its annual Congressional Award Gold medals and at least 20 of the more than 250 recipients were Indian American.

The split morning-and-afternoon ceremonies was held June 17 in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., spoke to the recipients at the early ceremony, offering remarks about the importance of service and community.

Medalists from several states, including Aakanksha Saxena of Arizona; Nihar Varanasi, Juhi Dalal, Avinash Iyer, Supreet Shah, Shimona Srivastava and Mili Patel of California; Sabrina Saintil of Florida; Arjun Kapoor of New York; and Rajat Bhageria of Ohio were recognized by members of Congress in the morning.

The afternoon ceremony was highlighted by minority leader of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who spoke to the recipients on opportunity, imagination and inspiration.

Siri Choragudi of Georgia; Arjun Sridhar of Massachusetts; Avani Pavuluri and Amrita Mojumdar of New Jersey; Rishi Prasad of Pennsylvania; Gopinath Thangada, Karishma Kashyap and Raghav Kalra of Texas; and Nikki Kothari and Suhani Sanghavi of Virginia were among the medalists at the afternoon ceremony.

President and CEO of Youth Service America Steve Culbertson gave the keynote address for both proceedings.

The 267 gold medalists have contributed more than 129,000 hours of voluntary public service to their communities through the Congressional Award program. The annual ceremony serves as a way for members of Congress to recognize the medalists’ leadership in their communities and the improvement in their own personal development and physical fitness.

The achievements of this year’s Gold medalists were recognized by the speaker of the House in the Congressional Record.

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