Bright student eyes green future
Published 9:35 pm Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s 2015 valedictorian says she is planning a career in the green energy sector to help the environment.
Maya Venkataraman learned she is NSA’s top student last Friday. “I kind of knew it was coming, but it was still nice to officially hear it,” she said.
“My mom was super-excited, and my dad was really proud too.”
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Next fall, Venkataraman will begin studying chemical engineering at the University of Texas in Austin, and says her family is moving to Dallas at the same time.
“When I visited (the university), it felt like a really good fit — like somewhere I could call home for the next four years,” she said.
After college, Venkataraman said, she’s looking to work in green energy and the environment — “sustainability, and things like that.”
She said of climate change, “I think it’s really important that we address this issue soon, because it’s becoming a problem a lot quicker than people think.”
Venkataraman has attended NSA since kindergarten. The memories she will have, she predicted, are “just the people I have met here and the friends I have made.”
It’s a small school and she got to know everyone, she added.
She said she has always been interested most in so-called STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects, and never stressed too much about coming out on top.
“I just always tried my best and I didn’t really worry about it,” she said. “I just tried to get involved with as many things as I could.”
As a senior, Venkataraman said, she did marching band and concert band, “something I really enjoyed and am looking to do at college.”
She also played soccer and ran cross-country.
On moving to Austin — that cool city with all that cool indie music you hear on PBS’s “Austin City Limits” on Saturday evenings — “I just think it will be such a different experience,” she said.
“It’s an urban city, and Suffolk is suburban and rural. I think it will be a great change and a great experience for me to have.”
Over the summer, Venkataraman has a research job at UT Southwestern in Dallas, working with ultrasound and radiology technology.
“It’s my first experience with that sort of thing, so I think it will be really valuable to have,” she said.
Venkataraman has this advice for rising seniors: try to relax, because senior year is really stressful, juggling regular schoolwork with “applying to colleges and trying to convince them to accept you.”
“Take a step back every once in a while and take a look at the big picture,” she said.