A prodigy on their hands
When Rahul Nagvekar went to Washington, DC, for the Geography Bee, he had reason to feel a little insecure, to not provide aid and comfort to competition snapping at his heels.
Rahul had academic help from his parents (Manoj hands
over the credit to Urmila: “If anybody was a coach, his
mother was”), fourth-grade teachers Michelle Sebesta and
Betsy Neicheril at Walker Elementary School.
As for planning for the contest, Rahul did that all himself.
Still, as his academic life got more demanding,
Rahul had less time for swimming, and so stopped it
in his fifth grade. Over time, he got away from basketball, too, Manoj said.
With Manoj playing unofficial coach of his Quail
Middle School team, Rahul participated in the
National Science Bowl.
The team went to the nationals three times and
ranked in the first 20 twice, and the first 10 once.
Rahul also took part in several math competitions.
While interested in the sciences, Rahul was also
into world affairs, listening to the BBC and visiting
the BBC Web site.
As he grew up, Rahul also learned about places
around the world that Manoj visited as part of his
job at KBR’s energy division.
Until Rahul’s schoolwork got especially demanding the family regularly went on camping trips to
Rahul likes the outdoors and particularly enjoyed
two camping trips in recreation vehicles in Alaska,
but also had fun when the family went to
Though the family drove from Houston on trips within
the borders, Rahul never tired of them, despite the long
journeys, Manoj said.
Now, given that he is entering his teens, while quiet,
Rahul has shown incipient rebellion, Manoj said.
“We didn’t grow up here, so we don’t know how things
are,” Manoj rationalized. “He feels our advice may not be
appropriate for the school system here.”
When pointed out that many bright and thoughtful chil-
dren, exhausted by the mundane and the inane, tend to
withdraw into themselves — a possibility foreshadowed in
the preschool French class experience — Manoj said fortu-
nately Rahul went to the Academy for the Gifted and
Talented at his school, and so was continually challenged by
the company he kept.
“He finished five high school courses before he graduated
from middle school.
In credit requirements, he could finish high school in
three years,” Manoj said.
When told that Rahul tended to downplay his abilities,
even arguing against the need to go to an Ivy League school
to make his case — an undoubtedly legitimate argument —
Manoj put it down to his son’s innate modesty.
For, in his seventh grade Rahul had written a short biography expressing an interest to study at Oxford.
Clearly, not someone who aims low. ;
Rahul Nagvekar with mother Urmila and father Manoj. His parents say they discovered out
early that they had a gifted child.
the teacher headed off to tell the
principal that this four-year-old
deserved something a little more
advanced than her preschool class.
She also let the parents know what
Manoj, who grew up in what was
then Bombay, got an engineering
degree at the Indian Institute of
After Rahul got first hooked to
Geography, thanks to influences
from a globe and then books on
the subject — “He would just open the maps and atlases —
and he loved to look at stuff,” Manoj said — his family
encouraged him when he expressed interest in the National
PHOTOGRAPHS COUR TES Y: THE NAGVEKARS
SPONSORED B Y