By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The term “scholar-athlete” describes Shikhar Kapur of Bluefield State College on both sides of the hyphen.
On the academic side, the quiet student from New Delhi, India, has maintained a 3.7 grade point average, out of a possible 4.0, while working on a daunting double major in architectural engineering technology and civil engineering technology.
He has earned recognition on the President’s or Dean’s List every semester he’s been enrolled in college.
In June he was named to the Capital One Academic All-America Division II men’s third team. It had been 10 years since a BSC student had achieved an academic all-America honor.
As an athlete, he has twice been named West Virginia Conference player of the year in men’s tennis, in his freshman year of 2010 and last spring. Kapur is one of only five players in the history of the conference to be named player of the year multiple times.
He’s been on the all-conference list all three years he’s been at BSC.
He helped the Big Blues reach their first ever berth in the NCAA Division II national championships this past spring. In fact, it was the first time a Bluefield State team had reached the NCAA national playoff level since the school joined the association.
“Being a student-athlete at Bluefield State is simply wonderful,” Kapur said. “BSC, being a small college, has its good points. Most of the faculty, administration staff know you personally.”
“The athlete walks into the administration building for paperwork or any other reason, and the staff members know you by name and inquire about the coming or past season. This feels phenomenal.”
His tennis and academic ability allowed him to consider scholarship offers from several American colleges or universities, he said, “but Bluefield State College was giving me the best scholarship compared to other offers and seemed to have a pretty good engineering program. These were the two main reasons that attracted me toward Bluefield State College.”
The next step was to find out about the school and city that would be his new home.
He wrote via email, “I am not much of a researcher and thus did not know much about the city of Bluefield. I knew quite a bit about the academic programs at the college and the tennis team, but did not know much about the Bluefield community.
“Coming from New Delhi, India, it was a big change for me. I have never lived in a city so small before, but it has been a great experience so far.”
“Each class at BSC has been a challenge so far and has taught me a lot,” Kapur said. “I enjoy classes which are related to building design — like commericial design, residential design, site planning and so forth. I feel like that is something I am more drawn toward.”
The field of engineering, with its close relationship to architecture, appealed to Kapur because of his father, a senior architect for the Indian government.
“There was no particular reason that drew me towards studying these courses except the fact that my father is an architect so I just decided to follow his footsteps,” he said.
About his double major, he wrote, “I had joined the college to pursue only civil engineering but I noticed that civil engineering and architecture engineering program had a lot of classes that overlapped which made me decide to pick architecture engineering as another major.”
He added, “The thing I like the most about my programs of study is how architects and engineers can change the way people interact and live. Architects have the power to strengthen community relationships and communication processes with their planning and designing ideas.”
Last summer, he got the opportunity to work as an intern at Cooper Carry in Atlanta, Georgia. Cooper Carry is a design firm that has been recognized internationally for its work.
Kapur said, “I can definitely say that this summer was one of the best summers of my life. I did learn a lot and got to be part of some big projects.
“Being my first true architecture internship, there was a lot to learn. I could learn something from whatever was thrown at me. Ranging from learning the different design processes to working on construction documents to design changes to client meetings, I got a little bit of everything.”
He will spend part of the next few months, his senior year, preparing for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) with the goal of immediately entering graduate school in the United States.
He also has one more year as a member of the Big Blues tennis team. When he arrived as a 17-year-old freshman, he had no idea he would be part of making Bluefield State College athletics history.
The men’s tennis program was coming off a 5-11 season and had been eliminated in the first round of the tournament. In Kapur’s first year, the team was 16-8 and he was named the top freshman in the conference.
This spring, Bluefield State went 8-0 in conference play and won the West Virginia Conference men’s tennis tournament title for the first time. But that was just the beginning.
On April 30, the BSC team defeated West Virginia Wesleyan College 5-3 at Bluefield City Courts to claim its first ever NCAA Division II Atlantic Region championship, qualifying for the “round of 16” at the national tournament in Louisville.
He concluded his junior season with a combined record of 29-13 in singles and doubles play, as the 50th ranked singles player in the country and No. 2 in the Atlantic Region. His doubles team also was ranked No. 9 in the region.
The Bluefield State tennis team compiled a 20-4 record last season and rose to 43rd in the national rankings.
Kapur said, “There have been some very emotional moments in the past three years of my tennis career at BSC. The team has improved one step at a time and has some great accomplishments under its belt.
“I think winning the ITA [International Tennis Association] regionals in 2010 was a great achievement for me personally. But nothing compares to the great feeling I had after our team won the regionals and the conference tournament this past season.”
He has come a long way, geographically and otherwise.
He described his upbringing as “middle-class.” He said, “My mother is a full time mom of two and we both keep her pretty busy.” He is the son of Sanjeev and Manju Kapur.
“I came to Bluefield when I was 17 and just out of high school,” he said. He was used to New Delhi, which he described as “a very big city and completely opposite form Bluefield. I was used to seeing people walk on the street all the time, restaurants being super crowded and a lot of traffic on the road.
“At first it was quite a shock, coming to Bluefield. It took me a good three months to get used to the different setting. Some of my great friends here in Bluefield now tell me that they thought I was weird when I first came, becuase I barely talked.”
Looking back on his three-plus years in America, he expressed his thanks “to all who have been a part of it.”
“All I can say is that it has been a great journey and I have developed some lifelong relationships here in Bluefield.”
— Contact Tom Bone at