• 55°

Break the mold of expectations

Being named the valedictorian for Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s Class of 2019 was an honor for Archana Venkatesan, especially with many other motivated and driven students in her class, she wrote in an email.
It had also been a goal of hers through several years of dedication, hard work and plenty more.

“This title is definitely something I’ve been working towards since freshman year,” Archana, wrote in an email. “In fact, when I first arrived at NSA in the middle of eighth grade, Ms. Horton said to me, ‘we have our valedictorian,’ and I am beyond elated that I was able to uphold the confidence she had in me.”

Archana has kept herself busy both in and out of school these last several years. She’s acted as president of Operation Smile Club and the Assist 3D Club. She’s been a member of the Operation Smile Regional Leadership Council and the National Honor Society.

She’s added editor of the Spectrum Literary Magazine to her resumé, as well as Saints Ambassador and volunteer tutor.

Her senior year also included research into “brain computer interfaces with a mentor,” intense Indian classical dance practices and volunteer hours at hospitals and clinics – but she still made time for friends, family and several college applications, she wrote.

One of Archana’s greatest accomplishments was Bags for Benefit, a program she started when she was just 14. She collected backpacks and donated them to Suffolk children in need at the Genieve Shelter and ForKids.

“After I initiated the program during the summer of ninth grade, I spent the next several weeks designing the logo, creating collection boxes and approaching local businesses and organizations such as libraries, banks, dance studios and even Starbucks,” she wrote. “The response I garnered from the community was flooring, to say the least. I received inspiring words of encouragement and an incredible amount of support from the community.”

Archana thanked NSA Chemistry Teacher Elyse Vaughan for supporting her endeavors – including the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad Program, and as a member of Vaughan’s Independent Study of Chemistry class.

“I would (also) like to emphasize my gratefulness to my wonderful family for supporting me and truly being my backbone through this leg of my journey,” Archana said.

Her journey will take her to Virginia Commonwealth University, which she will attend for its eight-year combined BS/MD Guaranteed Admission Program for Medicine with the Medical College of Virginia as a presidential scholar.

She will follow the same advice that she gave to her peers at NSA’s graduation ceremony on May 24. She told them to “treat every day like a new opportunity, and don’t limit yourself to society’s expectations of you.”

“I feel as though we often confine ourselves to society’s expectations of who we have to be,” she wrote. “I hope to inspire my peers to break the mold, follow their passions and take every opportunity to sculpt themselves into their ideal versions.”