When Aadi Kulkarni '18 received a phone call last month with news that he was selected as a George J. Mitchell Scholar, it was a surreal moment for the Cornell University senior.
“I was in shock for a few days,” said Kulkarni, who is currently studying policy analysis and management.
Kulkarni was one of 12 Mitchell Scholars announced on Nov. 20 by the US-Ireland Alliance, one of the country’s most prestigious scholarship programs. The organization sends future American leaders to Ireland for a year of graduate study. This year, 351 individuals applied for the 12 scholarships. Kulkarni joins a group of recipients that includes a New York Times reporter, a renewable energy scholar with an interest in Ireland’s peat bogs, a former Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, and a future physician who emigrated from Aleppo, Syria, at the beginning of the war.
Kulkarni is focused on using technology to make public services easily accessible and equally available to everyone.
“At the end of the day, our relationship with democracy depends on being able to do basic things like renewing driver's licenses, filing taxes, and signing kids up for preschool,” he said.
While those might seem like practical problems, Kulkarni argues that they are fundamental to the durability of our political system. “Building fair and accessible digital tools for citizens to participate in the life of the community is vital for the future of society,” he said.
As a Mitchell Scholar, Kulkarni will spend a post grad year at the University College Dublin next year studying social data analytics.
Reflecting on the honor, he commented, "It is a privilege to be awarded the scholarship and I owe a lot of credit to those who have supported me on my journey both at home, at Hotchkiss, and at Cornell."
When he was at Hotchkiss, Director of International Programs Dave Thompson encouraged him to study abroad in Bogota, Columbia.
“I vividly remember being on the flight from Newark to Bogota when it really hit me that I am actually doing it. I think I will have a similar moment on my way to Dublin.”
Kulkarni hails from Far Hills, New Jersey. He co-founded and is CEO of Polici.org, a startup that uses machine learning techniques to summarize peer-reviewed academic research papers to an eighth-grade reading level and disseminates those summaries to traditionally underserved populations. The start-up received several awards and was accepted to accelerator programs.
He served as the President of the Cornell International Affairs Review and founded Cornell’s Office of Student Government Relations. He was also a research assistant on an NSF funded project with researchers at Cornell, Microsoft Research, and UC Berkeley, assisting in automating data collection and designing methods related to ethics in technical college departments. He contributed to findings suggesting a major lack of ethics education for students building our technological future.
He was an intern for Senator Cory Booker; for the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce; and was a Campaign Fellow for Biden for President serving as an aide to the National Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Director. As a Research Associate for Harvard Law School’s Library Innovation Lab, he helped build legal technology by integrating 50 state codes to H20, an open casebook platform, in Python, Java and HTML