What advice do you have for younger students?
Hard work is really important, so make sure you just do your best on everything and anything that comes across your way. But also just make sure to relax a little bit because it can get very overwhelming at times. Make sure you keep your limits in mind.
What is something you wish you told your ninth-grade self?
Relax. I pushed myself more back then than I do now, especially during my sophomore junior years. Looking back now, it was pretty unnecessary, so without worrying as I did over my grades, I probably would have done the same.
What are your thoughts on the current education system and the college admissions process?
Within the current education system, there’s a lot of grades and pressure and on top of that so much competition. We should lessen that competition, to reduce stress on the students. At the end of the day, no one’s going to remember what rank you were in high school. You might not even remember what rank you were in high school. It’s a great thing to have achieved, but it’s not your entire life. It doesn’t define you. Tests are interesting. I don’t see the point of them, necessarily, because every person is different. So how do you even come up with the idea of creating a test to compare them? I feel like you should do away with standardized tests and focus on your extracurriculars. Write something that makes you you rather than comparing yourself to everyone else.
How have you worked towards this honor?
A lot of effort. I remember studying a lot. I also asked for help from my teachers; tutoring was really helpful. It’s important to build relationships with your teachers so that they know that you’re trying in their class. You can get good grades all you want, but it’s important that you know that you’re interested and invested in each class.
What are your goals for the future? How do you think your hard work will contribute to that?
I will be majoring in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. I wanted to choose something that I enjoyed. It involves math, so I really liked that. But it also involves physics, which challenges me a little bit. I didn’t want to be bored by the majors that I chose, and I wanted to continue to be motivated and continue to work hard.
What is your secret to success?
Probably consistency. It’s good if you study a day before. But you see even better results if you just do a little bit in the days leading up to a test rather than cramming it in on the last day.
What did your after-school routine look like? The weekends?
I did Carnatic music, which is South Indian classical music and I also played piano. I had a couple of classes each week. That would take maybe an hour out of a couple days a week, and then I would always leave Friday off. I would do nothing on Friday after school, and that was just me time.
How were you able to balance academics with extracurriculars and a social life?
You just have to remember what’s important. If you put your mind to anything, you will find a way for it to work. If it’s that important to you, you’ll find a way to fit it into your schedule. For example, if I wanted to hang out with my friends, or if I needed to practice for my class, I would tell myself I only have this much time to do work, and then I have to do something else.
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