AV Alerts
  • March 11First Day of Ramadan - (03/11)
  • March 17St. Patrick's Day - (03/17)
  • March 29No School: Spring Break - (03/29 - 04/08)
The student news site of Amador Valley High School


The student news site of Amador Valley High School


The student news site of Amador Valley High School


Darsh Shah (‘24) and Leo Shao (‘24) make Coca-Cola Scholar Semifinals

Yatin Bayya
Leo Shao (’24), on the left, and Darsh Shah (’24) on the right, carry on a legacy of Amador students being selected for Coca-Cola Scholar Semifinals, this year being the fourth in a row.

With only about 1.45% of people selected out of a pool of over 100,000 applicants, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation announced their semifinalists for 2024 on Oct. 13. Among them include two Amador students, Darsh Shah (‘24) and Leo Shao (‘24).

These semifinalists passed the first round and will compete to become one of 150 finalists. Finalists get a scholarship of $20,000 and access to the prestigious Coke Scholar network. They also have the opportunity to attend the multi-day Coke Scholar Leadership Summit event in Atlanta.

“I didn’t expect the email to come, so when I opened it, I didn’t know what it was at first. But after I saw it, I was pretty excited. The other semifinalist, Darsh, was there with me, and we were both pretty excited and happy for each other,” said Shao.

How they got here

Coca-Cola awards students who excel academically, contribute to their community, and demonstrate leadership skills. Shah founded two companies (Rising C-Suites and Young Champions). He contributed to six clubs at school and worked closely with the American Cancer Society.

“A really big thing for me recently is expanding my network, reaching out to people for my companies, and trying to find these opportunities. If I am a Coke Scholar surrounded by these 150 students who have all taken the initiative on their own in their respective communities, I feel like fusing our efforts together will allow us to build a better community, and I will be able to work with them in the future for years to come,” said Shah.

A major part of Shao’s application is his leadership and statewide initiatives for DECA. He attends and judges mini-conferences around the Bay Area. 

“These merit-based scholarships are becoming pretty important, due to the rising cost of college. I think it’s a great avenue for high schoolers to get validation for all their work. It’s also a good motivation booster,” said Shao.

What does Coca-Cola Scholar Semifinalist mean

Alumni of the prestigious award have attended top colleges like Harvard and Stanford with most going into business or finance. 2023 salutatorian and Coke Scholar Tony Wang (‘23) is one example.

“Having these merit-based scholarships encourages students who come from underprivileged backgrounds. It drives them to their best work. They are using whatever has been given to them and making the best out of it, which translates into their achievements and scholarships,” said Shah.

Applications for the Coke Scholar program typically open at the beginning of each year. The program is only for senior students and requires students to have a 3.0 GPA at minimum.

“I just applied because I asked some of my friends. I did not think I was going to get it at all, and now I got it. It’s definitely an amazing opportunity for anyone,” said Shah.

View Comments (1)
Navigate Left
Navigate Right

Comments (1)

All AmadorValleyToday Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • S

    Shimon AraiOct 28, 2023 at 11:44 pm

    Wow, 2 people were nominated from Amador? Also, you had some really good quotes Yatin, fabulous work on the article.