Surya Karkada Memorial Scholarship

Surya Karkada

Life in the suburbs of Houston was often hectic, but Surya Karkada lived his with a unique sense of ease. He was quick to laugh and had an infectious giggle that could lift anyone’s spirits. Surya had a knack for making everyone around him feel welcome — he was a source of warmth, comfort and brightness that his friends and family could rely on every day.
Surya was born in 2002 to loving parents and an excited older brother. Growing up he was an avid reader, regularly cycling through his favorite books and adding new ones to his library. He liked to immerse himself in worlds — fantasy worlds, cultural worlds, in-game worlds. He also liked to pick up skills, from solving wacky specialty Rubik’s cubes to learning how to arrange a beautiful floral bouquet.
Adam Opiela
Adam Opiela

He lived a simple life with no desire for fancy clothes or the latest gadgets. He made jokes, puns and witty comebacks at the dinner table, where he shared good laughs with his family. He had an uncanny way of throwing funny lines or dialogue verbatim from his favorite movies or the “Calvin and Hobbes” or “Dilbert” comic strips. He loved all sorts of sweets, especially sweet and sour ones. He spent time with his family happily, playing games, having conversations or helping with house and garden chores.

For many years, Surya flitted between different hobbies and activities. He had a knack for directly confronting his fears: Although he was once afraid of deep water and heights, he began to swim competitively and boulder at the rock-climbing gym. They eventually became his two favorite sports. “I believe in the fruition of a work of passion, dedication, attitude and effort,” he once wrote in a poem. That mindset was evident any time he’d focus on one of his personal goals.

Surya participated in summer recreational swim league for more than 12 years. He also taught swimming to young kids and combined math, fun and swim to make it interesting for them. Soon he was named Instructor of the Year for his passion, kindness and work ethic.

Adam Opiela

Surya’s love for chemistry subject started at Dulles High School, thanks to accessible teachers and encouraging class environments that made the subject interesting and fun. His curiosity and interest were amplified by one of his favorite pastimes — browsing YouTube. He became captivated by videos of beautiful chemical reactions. “Chemistry is the only acceptable science,” was his tongue-in-cheek judgment. Driven by his motivation to learn more, he quickly became proficient in all kinds of basic chemistry. He was especially interested in surface chemistry and polymer chemistry, and he hoped to eventually study the chemistry of materials for renewable energy sources. He gained a new reputation among his friends for being a kind and patient teacher of anything chemistry.

Adam Opiela

Surya treasured his friends deeply and left an indelible mark on them. “His charming wit and playfulness manifested in sharp roasts and funny pranks,” wrote a close friend. “His instinct of kindness made him very approachable and easy to befriend. I’m eternally grateful for all the joy and wisdom he showed me.”

Surya was a Longhorn for only a year before his passing, but that year was instrumental in his journey of self-actualization. The Karkadas’ gift to The University of Texas at Austin honors his memory, and they hope that future generations of UT students find inspiration and guidance in Surya’s credo: “I believe in searching the world for all the light you can find.”

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