Leaders of South Brunswick High School hope to lead the medical field

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Rohith Kariveda
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Harrison Chiu received his diploma from South Brunswick High School on June 22.PHOTO COURTESY OF HARRISON CHIU
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Harrison Chiu
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Rohith Kariveda
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Harrison Chiu received his diploma from South Brunswick High School on June 22.PHOTO COURTESY OF HARRISON CHIU
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Harrison Chiu

SOUTH BRUNSWICK – The two students at the top of the class at South Brunswick High School aspire to achieve careers in medicine.

Rohith Kariveda and Harrison Chiu may have graduated on June 22 as valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, but their career goals will lead them to more opportunities outside the classroom.

Rohith achieved a cumulative weighted GPA or 4.625, or 4.0 unweighted.

He was a National Advanced Placement Scholar and a National Merit Scholarship Commended Student. He has been part of the National, Math, Science, Social Studies and French honor societies.

Rohith conducted biology research last summer, and took part in the Columbia Science Honors Program every weekend. Last summer, he also attended the Governor’s School of the Sciences at Drew University.

He has played tennis for his whole life, first with his father and then outside of school.

“It’s always been a family tradition, going out to the tennis courts on a cool summer morning and hitting a couple of balls. I’ve played tennis for both the middle school and high school teams, playing varsity last year and this year. I also love to play a game of pick-up basketball whenever I can,” he said.

Rohith used to play the saxophone – mostly Baritone but also Alto – until ninth grade.

With an interest in debate and science, Rohith was a member of Junior State of America for four years, having served as vice president, and a member of the Science Olympiad for five years, having served as co-captain.

“I love to volunteer, and giving back to others gives me a joy paralleled by few other activities. I have volunteered in the South Brunswick District, and have helped out in the public library as well. My dream is to become a doctor, and I enjoy volunteering in hospitals and with emergency medical service teams as well. Volunteering is something I definitely want to continue as I go into college and beyond,” he said.

Rohith said his two strongest academic qualities are his tenacity and his patience.

“I tried my very best in every class I took, and at the end of four years I guess things turned out alright. I’m happy I developed the skills of being able to work through adversity early on, and for someone who is hoping to study for at least another decade, patience is also a good skill to have. But in the end, I think it was because of the people I have had behind me. I’ve had amazing guidance from my teachers and friends, and my parents and sister have been instrumental in getting me to where I am today. I would not have been able to learn so much throughout high school if it weren’t for the people surrounding me,” he said.

He said he was able to stay committed to his schoolwork due to his desire for success in the future.

“I always pushed myself in the back of my mind to think about the future. My parents have always told me ‘work hard today and enjoy harder tomorrow,’ so I’ve been working to save up for a lot of fun-filled tomorrows. I know that there is still a long path ahead of me, so I hope to carry this mindset with me to college and beyond,” he said.

He said if he could repeat high school, he would do a lot of things in a similar fashion.

“I think that I’ve been able to manage my time pretty well … and I’ve always been able to make time for the things most important to me. To be honest, my biggest goal going into high school was never to focus only on school. I feel like I’ve had a relatively balanced life, and don’t really feel like I’ve missed out of any ‘quintessential’ high school experiences. I like to think that I’m still what most people would call a ‘normal’ person,” he said.

He has not fully grasped the totality of being named valedictorian.

“There were a lot of kids in my grade who I thought might be at the top of my class, so everything was a little hazy until the Friday during our senior awards assembly when we found out. I’m so honored to be able to represent the South Brunswick Class of 2018, and I know that everyone will go on to do incredible things. It was a pleasure to spend my four years of high school with such a wonderful group of people,” he said.

“I don’t want to sound cliche, but if the last few months have taught me anything, it’s that time is a funny thing. When I was a freshman I couldn’t wait to be a senior, and now as a senior I’m reminiscing about the ‘good old days.’ I would say to try your best to make the most of everything, the good and the bad. Nothing terrible lasts forever, so hang in there; nothing worthwhile lasts forever, so hang on to it. Stay in the moment, and remember that whatever it is, it’s just a part of life,” he said.

Rohith will attend Boston University to study in the seven year Liberal Arts/Medical Education Program.

“My lifelong goal has been to become a doctor, and hopefully some type of surgeon, but I still have some ways to go before I get there. I also hope to do some volunteering at college, and want to continue my passion for music and dance. I’m really excited to start this next chapter of my life, and I can’t wait to go out there and explore the world,” he said.

Harrison achieved a GPA of 4.5809

He was a National Advanced Placement Scholar; a National Merit Scholarship Commended Student; and part of the English, Math, Spanish, Science and National honor societies.
He competed on the varsity cross-country and track teams at South Brunswick.
He enjoyed Slam Poetry.
He volunteered with the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad as an EMT, and the South Brunswick Public Library Executive Volunteer Association.
He has worked as a tutor and a lifeguard.
“I think that I have a genuine passion for learning, and amazing teachers who have encouraged my creativity and passion. My teachers have been great influences, in particular Dr. Çakir, Ms. Mottley, Mr. Poot and Mr. Honig. Each of them, in their own way, have encouraged me and given me the freedom to make interdisciplinary connections and learn beyond the curriculum, sometimes things that weren’t even relevant to the curriculum. Why is there something instead of nothing, and what does that mean? Why do chemicals make certain colors, and if so, can we make prettier ones? How do biochemical signaling cascades influence bodily responses, and how do medications impact them? How do I grow, as a reader and a writer? Questions are the best way to learn,” he said.
Harrison said he learned the importance of taking breaks to help him recharge.
 
“But ultimately, it’s about taking things one thing at a time: breaking up larger tasks into smaller tasks, and making the most of your time. It’s only a human tendency to procrastinate when one can, and to work when one can’t. But it’s still important to set good habits: not checking phones, electronics or social media when working, and assigning certain times of the day to work,” he said.
 
Harrison said even experiences that weren’t the most enjoyable were still valuable, “like failing my driver’s test or quitting a team sport I practiced for over five years.
“I know now that the speed limit for driving courses is not 25 miles per hour, and I am running on my own again. I’m still growing and trying to get better, but I think that mistakes are unavoidable and the best learning experience you can have. I definitely struggled a lot junior year with mental health and stress. I wish I had been more secure but also more willing to ask for help, and knew so many other lessons I’ve learned since then, but I think I know now that some things just come with time. All things shall pass, and I’m making my peace with that,” he said.
Harrison, too, is stunned at his salutatorian designation.
[“I’m proud [and] grateful for the support I’ve had all these years from teachers, friends, and most importantly, family. I’m excited for graduation, and to give a speech in front of so many people,” he said.
 
He suggested his classmates adapt a “this too shall pass” mentality to help them through life.
“I think that accepting the transience of all things is a good way to deal with whatever troubles you’re facing right now. Things will get better, I promise you. In general, as a very experienced and knowledgeable seventeen-year-old, I think I’ve figured quite a bit of life out. Namely, that everyone lives differently. Accept that. So, figure out your values, and act according to them. Seek contentment, not happiness – and recognize that neither is permanent. It’s always good to value yourself; take time to take care of yourself and figure out constructive coping mechanisms before college. You’ll need them. Above all, it’ll all be okay,” he said.
 
Harrison will spend the next seven years in the Rutgers Newark/New Jersey Medical School BA/MD program. Afterward, he hopes to move into public health to change health systems for the better.
“Write a book? Start a non-profit? Who knows? I’m hopeful and excited to start college and try to make a difference,” he said.

South Brunswick High School celebrated the graduation of 778 students at its commencement ceremony at CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton on June 22.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com.