Shivani Persad will be attending the University of Florida.
Where are you going to college and what will your major be?
I am going to college at the University of South Florida to major in Biomedical Sciences.
What about college are you most excited for?
I am most excited to learn about topics that are of more interest to me at the moment. Also, I am excited to experience a new type of school atmosphere with my friends!
When did you first realize you were going to be in the top two of your class? How did you react?
When I first got my summary sheet freshman year, I saw that I was tied for second with a few other students in my graduating class. Seeing that I was starting out so high in the rank but tied with so many other students, I was always going back and forth in my head about ending up in the top 2 senior year. Even as the years progressed and I worked more towards staying at the top, I was constantly moving within the top 5 which made me doubt myself a lot. However, I realized that I needed to push myself more to actually reach my goal, so I took more classes than I would have initially. When I went to school the day that summary sheets were updated after the first semester of senior year was over, I was beyond excited about what I had seen on the paper in my hands. I felt so relieved to see that I was able to reach a goal of mine that I had for such a long time. Additionally, I was with our Valedictorian when I found out my final rank, so it was just a really joyful moment for both of us!
What advice would you give students who want to be their school’s next valedictorian or salutatorian?
If I were to advise students who want to follow in the same footsteps, I would say to start taking extra classes as soon as you can. I started dual enrollment courses the summer after sophomore year was over and I found it a little difficult to manage during the school year with my other core classes. I believe that having the ability to spread out your dual enrollment courses over the four years of high school will reduce the amount of stress you will face. Personally, my last two years of high school were really stressful as I had to cram in enough classes to push me up in the rank while dealing with things such as the SAT, ACT, and college applications.
What’s something you wish you knew about high school ahead of time?
Something that I wish I knew about high school ahead of time was how stressful senior year could be, especially with college applications all throughout the first semester. It was really hard trying to balance all of my classes with college apps and other things such as scholarship applications. Not to mention, senioritis was very real!
What is your favorite high school memory?
This isn’t a specific memory, but I enjoyed being able to make a lot of friends who will be there for me when I need it! I was able to build many great friendships at school, which I am very grateful for.
How are you going to spend this summer?
To be quite honest, this is my first summer or chunk of time off after around six years of consistent schooling, therefore, I will be taking these two months off. I do not have anything really planned because I just want to relax. However, I was interested in seeing if I could shadow at certain places to get an idea of some careers in the medical field.
What’s the best thing one of your teachers taught you while in high school?
During my AVID class this school year, I found that one of the quotes given out for everyone to hear as inspiration for the day was really helpful with staying on track with achieving goals. The quote was, “If you’re not struggling, you’re not progressing.” This quote stuck with me because I found myself wanting to give up at times because of how stressful it was trying to stay at the top of my class, however, this quote showed me that nothing will ever be easy. If you want to accomplish something, you must put in the work to achieve it! You will always face difficulties along the way, but those are there to help you learn and grow as a person.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your high school experience?
With COVID-19, I pretty much stayed home ever since the beginning of the pandemic. I decided to do eLearning all senior year, which was tough, to say the least. I did not really get to experience my final year of high school that well, but I tried to make the best of it. I missed being able to end off the year with my friends, but the few senior activities that we had provided a good sense of normality to us all.
What extracurricular activities were you involved in during high school?
While in high school, I participated in the Leo Club, AVID Club, National Honors Society, Spanish National Honors Society and Senior Council. I also volunteered at my middle school almost every day after school to help the AVID teacher.
What do you hope to do in life after college?
After college and all other schoolings, I would hope to be very successful in whatever I decide to pursue as a career in the medical field. I am still very undecided on what I want to do specifically, so I hope I choose something that I will enjoy and do well in!