Abhay Nadipuram, upper right, with his brother, Dr. Santhosh Nadipuram,
and parents, Drs. Mukund and Nagarathnamma Nadipuram, seated. (Kate Elliott photo)

A former Wartburg College student body president and his family have created a distinctive scholarship to encourage civic engagement in Washington, D.C.

Abhay Nadipuram, a 2010 graduate from Waterloo, and his parents, Drs. Mukund and Nagarathnamma Nadipuram, have established the Nadipuram Washington D.C. Experiential Learning Scholarship for students interested in civic engagement and political science. 

The $2,500 scholarship will help second- or third-year students complete an unpaid internship or field experience with a government or nonprofit entity in the capital by covering out-of-pocket expenses. 

“It’s a joint effort between myself and my parents to give back to the school that gave me a lot,” Abhay Nadipuram said, “while at the same time making sure that the money is going toward something tangible that will directly benefit students.”

“He is very motivated to do public service,” said his father, who recounted how Abhay raised $20,000 as an 11 year old to help the Waterloo Fire Department buy an infrared camera. “He is keenly interested in making Iowa a better place. I admire him for that.”

“I came from India 33 years ago, and we are blessed to be physicians and live in a country like the United States and a state like Iowa,” he added. “If this can help students at Wartburg, it’s our way of giving back.” 

Abhay Nadipuram graduated with a degree in political science. He was student body president during his senior year and vice president the year before. He spent a summer in Guyana as a co-recipient of a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant, providing villagers with the wherewithal to sew mosquito nets to ward off malaria. 

He interned in Washington for Sen. Charles Grassley during the summer of 2008, helping with administrative efforts in response to the flooding in Northeast Iowa. He returned to Waverly as a field organizer for the presidential campaign of then Sen. Barack Obama. 

“I learned a lot about the political system,” Nadipuram said, “and I was able to apply the knowledge I received in the classroom from (political science professors) Dr. (Dani) Thomas and Dr. (Bret) Billet.”

Nadipuram graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law in May 2013, interning at a Washington law firm during a summer break. He is now an associate attorney for the Cedar Rapids firm of Lederer Weston Craig.

“It’s expensive to get the type of opportunities in Washington that I had,” Nadipuram said. “I’m in a very fortunate position to be able to do this. There’s a saying, ‘If not now, when?’ Everybody chooses when to apply that. This is something my family wanted to do.” 

“Abhay and his family's generosity, which is especially impressive at such a young age, creates a great experiential learning opportunity for young people with a passion for public service at the center of national policymaking in Washington, D.C.,” said Thomas, who was Nadipuram’s adviser at Wartburg.

Nadipuram said his law school professor Willard “Sandy” Boyd also influenced him. Boyd, a former dean of the College of Law and president of the university, started a nonprofit center at Iowa.

“He taught us a lot about philanthropy, and how it’s important as an alum to give back and to find creative ways to help our institutions,” Nadipuram said.

Students can apply for the scholarship during the current Winter Term at a time to be announced by the political science faculty. The initial scholarship will be awarded for a May Term or summer 2015 internship or field experience. The Nadipuram family will be involved in the selection process.