The sentence is
"Tom was the first ever student from Jacksonville University to qualify for the prestigious math competition, while only being in his sophomore year"
What i what to emphasise is that Tom managed to qualify for the competition while still being only in his sophomore year. As in, he was really young but still managed to qualify - this means he possessed an advanced skillset.
However, the given sentence can also be interpreted as Tom was the only person to qualify for the competition from the Sophomore year - e.i there are more people from other years who qualified.
I'm not sure how I can correctly put the point forward, would really appreciate some help!