Hampton geography whiz wins internationally
Hampton senior Tejas Badgujar takes on the world by knowing a lot about it.
Tejas, 17, has been competing at various geography competitions at the state and national levels since he was in middle school.
In 2015, Tejas placed fourth in the National Geographic Bee at Washington D.C. after winning the Pennsylvania state competition. And this past July, he expanded his achievements at the International Geography Bee in Berlin, Germany, where his team won a bronze.
His geographic prowess involves two main methods of “going through every single atlas I can get my hands on” and visiting Wikipedia pages for major geographic points, such as all countries, major cities, rivers and more, and just reading.
In this summer’s event, he competed with students from 21 other countries before securing the bronze and carrying the Pennsylvania state flag at the closing ceremony. The event consisted of “Jeopardy”-style buzzer questioning, written exams, team work, and even a treasure hunt where students had to travel extensively on the Berlin Metro where they located historical landmarks.
Tejas said his school coordinator, Scott Stickney, supported him through his competitions.
His mother, Snehal, said Tejas has worked hard at his achievements.
“I realized at his early age that Tejas is very talented and gifted. My husband and I always supported him and his sister, Saisha, to do their best in competitions and exams,” said Snehal.
She has helped him by providing study material and asking “random questions” on geography, but, other than that, it’s his own diligence and talent, she said. In her opinion, geography can be more difficult than other competitions, such as math.
“You need to remember a lot of details, like official languages, currencies, major cities, rivers, mountains, cultures and many more pieces of trivia from around 200 countries around the globe,” Snehal said.
He said the National Geographic Bee was similar in scale to the International Geography Bee, both major competitions.
For the international event, all of the participants were divided by the regions they came from and competed against other regions in a written quiz. He was part of the three-person group US Mid-Atlantic Team.
“Although we tied for the least amount of people in a group, we still managed to place in the event, which definitely made everybody on our team happier when we got bronze,” said Tejas.
Tejas has excelled in other academic areas, too, such as earning a perfect score on the ACT exams. And he joins fellow Hampton students on the Hampton High Q team, competing against other local high school academic trivia teams on KDKA’s “Hometown High Q.”
He is also honored to be the president of Hampton High School Marching Band this year, playing the clarinet. After high school he hopes to attend a top-tier university for computer science studies.
He began his collegiate-type work the past summer in a three-month stint of graduate-level research at the University of Pittsburgh under Dr. David Koes, an assistant professor in the Department of Computational and Systems Biology.
And when he’s not studying, he’s helping others study, working as an assistant mentor at Just Math, a local tutoring center.
His mom is very excited about his accomplishments and said winning this was very special to her and her family.
Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.