Sit Down with a Graduating Senior

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Today I had the opportunity to sit down and interview Vaishnavi Mantraratnam, Vice President of Alabama HOSA 2017-2018, President of National Honor Society, and one of our lovely editors of JetStream. Vaishnavi is a graduating senior this year, and I think it would be interesting to see how she juggled schoolwork and extracurriculars and managed to be as successful as she is now.

“Am I successful though?”

Yes. As a senior, can you tell me what your favorite thing about being a student at James Clemens has been?

“The people I surround myself with and the wonderful opportunities that we are offered here – we don’t realize how fortunate we are to have the opportunities and resources that our school has that a lot of other people don’t get.”

What was your least favorite thing?

“People at this school can be really petty and competitive. People are so busy trying to compete with everyone else, and they lose themselves, making themselves worse as a person by making them identify themselves as something they’re actually not. I used to be like that back in sophomore and junior year until I realized that it was unhealthy both physically and mentally, as physically, you don’t sleep well because you feel bad about yourself by measuring your self-worth with other people’s accomplishments, and mentally, you just feel terrible about what you feel is ‘losing’ to everyone else.”

How do you feel about the bells at JCHS? And the mascot puns in general?

“When I was a freshman, I felt that it was a bit extra, but now, as a senior, I feel differently. As a senior, it’s sort of nice to tell people who don’t go to this school all the puns and see their reactions. It makes me feel proud to be from such a different school that is very adaptive to the modern environment.”

Who was your favorite high school teacher?

“I don’t have ONE favorite. My favorites are Mrs. McRae, Mrs. O’Donnell, Mrs. Marcus, Mrs. Haley, Mrs. Hartfield, Mrs. Protos, and the legend himself, Mr. Bardell. I love these teachers so much because they challenge their students in class. Sure, the hard grading might be difficult at times, but these teachers truly care about their students succeeding.

I also personally love all my HOSA advisors, who were there with me from the beginning of high school to the end – Ms. Jemison, Mrs. Steinert, and Mrs. Collins.”

What has been your favorite class in high school?

“I personally love so many classes I took, but I love AP Calculus. I know; I’m a nerd, I get it, but I love AP Calculus. Math classes are intriguing. I love all my science classes because I’m a science nerd at heart, too, but a class I never expected to actually like would be APES. APES is an AP Environmental Science class, and I took it because I had no other class during that one space in my schedule. It made me truly aware of the world. Another class I love would be APUSH. I truly knew nothing about politics and the U.S. government, because – surprise, surprise – I’m from India, but it made me learn a lot about the world and the U.S.”

What clubs did you join? What were your favorites?

“I joined many clubs during my time in high school. Freshman year, I joined HOSA, JetStream, and all of these clubs just truly mean so much to me, JetStream and HOSA especially because they allow me to interact with people that I love, like Regina*, who’s interviewing me right now, And my other friends.”

What difficulties did you encounter throughout high school?

“When I first came to high school, I had trouble managing time like every person does. I was not good at managing time: I procrastinated a lot. But as I grew up, I shifted from procrastinating to procrastinating by sleeping. It’s not even procrastination; it’s taking care of yourself. So, that’s what I really want to say, like, take care of yourself and don’t worry too much about classes. Your health and you matter most, not whether you make one bad grade on a single test. That’s not going to ruin your entire life. Take care of yourself. Love yourself.”

If you could change anything about your time at James Clemens, what would it be?

“If I could change anything during my time here, I would not take Latin 2 on Access! It is killing me right now guys! On a serious note, I would probably try to spend more time with friends, go to more football games, maybe, I don’t know about that one, go to more plays.. because we only get four years of high school and it’s a pretty fun experience. It’ll be amazing if you make it amazing and terrible if you make it terrible.”

What kind of helpful advice can you give to rising freshmen? Seniors?

“Freshmen, the first piece of advice I’m going to give you right now is check out the many articles I wrote on JetStream right now; there’s a help column called Dear Johnny that you can check out. Freshmen, do what you like. Don’t choose classes that your parents want you to take. That’s not cool. Do what you actually like and you’ll truly be successful. Join clubs, make friends, and that’s pretty much it. Love yourself and balance out time.

Rising seniors, I would tell you all to just take a little chill pill, calm down, and focus on yourself and your achievements, not of others’ around you, which is sort of similar to the answer to the previous question, I know, but it’s really important that you learn to appreciate yourself for who you are.”

What are your plans after graduation?

“I’m going to UAB, which, I know, it’s not an Ivy League, but it’s still amazing. And I plan to probably do many good things there, and hopefully, I will.”

What’s the most important thing that someone should do in high school?

“Focus on your grades, stay in clubs to interact with people, and make friends.”

How can students get involved at JC?

“Join clubs you really want to join, like JetStream. It’s amazing and it really allows you to express yourself, and you can become an editor like me and my fellow friend Regina who’s my interviewer right now! Join JetStream people!”


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