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City student wins bronze at Chemistry Olympiad

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T. Immanuel Ilavarasan.
T. Immanuel Ilavarasan.

Meera Srinivasan

“The perception that only those following the CBSE syllabus can make it to the IITs should change”

CHENNAI: For T. Immanuel Ilavarasan, who begins his Computer Science Engineering course at the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras on Monday, it has been a season of success.

After topping the State in the IIT—Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) by obtaining the 39th rank he won a bronze medal at the Chemistry Olympiad, which concluded in Moscow last week.

Back after spending over a week with 265 finalists from 68 countries, Immanuel described the experience as having been “fantastic”.

Four students from the country chosen from nearly 30,000 candidates, who took the preliminary examination for selection, received intensive training at the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE), Mumbai, for nearly a month before they left. And, the training seems to have paid off. The four students have returned with two gold, one silver and one bronze medals. Immanuel, the only student from South India, is the bronze medal winner at the event.

“Holding the Indian flag at the closing ceremony of the Olympiad is an unforgettable moment in my life,” says the teenager.

Students had to prove their merit through a theoretical and a practical examination. So what does the young chemist want to do next? “I have opted for engineering in the computer science discipline because I want to master computing. There are several avenues coming up such as computational chemistry, computational biology and interface sciences. I have not decided in which area I want to specialise,” he says.

Interestingly, Immanuel spends considerable time doing “fun things” such as playing table tennis, in which he represented the State till he was in Class X. “He also plays the guitar well,” says his father, V.S. Thomas, who is the assistant head master at Santhome Higher Secondary School. A product of St. Bede’s Anglo Indian School, he says the perception that only students following the CBSE syllabus can make it to the IITs or crack Olympiads should change. “With the right kind of focus and effort, anyone can.”

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