By Matthew Tepper
As the 2019-2020 school year comes to an end, the Class of 2020’s Valedictorian, Aavi Gupta, has proven to be an accomplished student. This fall, Aavi will head to Princeton University to pursue a career in the field of science, majoring in either chemistry or molecular biology.
Aavi’s passion for science stems from his family members’ health conditions. “I grew concerned about my predisposition to the possibility of a heart condition in the future, so I grew interested in cardiology through some of the research I did when I was younger,” he said.
While attending a summer program at Stony Brook University during his sophomore year, Aavi had the opportunity to explore dozens of different medical professions. “I learned not only about interesting surgeries, but also why some of these doctors entered the medical profession in the first place. Some of them had been interested from a young age, and others felt a need to give back to the communities that fostered them, so medicine was their way of doing so.” After attending the program, Aavi decided he wanted to dedicate his life to improving the lives of others.
With growing interest, he attended New York Institute of Technology’s Health and Medical Academy the following summer. Through this experience, he learned about the physiology and the methodology of physical therapy, osteopathic therapy, and osteopathic surgery. “With this knowledge, I knew that I wanted to work toward an MD (Medical Doctor), and contribute to the field of medicine through both lab research and adopting a similar approach to diagnosis and treatment as a DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) would.”
Aavi found Princeton University’s research opportunities appealing from the beginning of his selection process. “As a senior, I would conduct independent research that would help me in my professional career, and I believe that Princeton has a number of opportunities that will allow me to be successful in my future.”
When reflecting on what led him to his decision to pursue the field of science, Aavi said, “Learn what makes you happy, learn what drives you early in life. Understand what you want your life to look like, what you want to contribute, and what you want your mark to be. Exploring these ideas will limit uncertainty in your life.”
Reflecting on his rigorous high school schedule, Aavi noted that AP Chemistry, AP Biology, and AP Literature & Composition were the courses that drove the trajectory of his future career path. He shared that both classes allowed him to think differently, problem solve, and broaden his understanding. He thanked Mrs. Annicelli for her expertise in creating an engaging and encouraging learning environment. According to Aavi, AP Literature taught him another way of thinking, “one of reflection and insight into motivations and purpose.” Mrs. Brady’s AP Literature and College Essay classes helped Aavi and his fellow seniors reflect on their life goals.
In addition to Aavi’s academic success, he has been actively involved in many extracurricular activities throughout his high school career. Aavi was President of the National Honor Society and Mathletes, and a member of the Varsity Tennis and Varsity Bowling teams. Aavi was also a member of the music department, playing in the Symphonic Band, Jazz Band, and Pep Band. He shared he "enjoyed pep band and playing at the football games, as this was the greatest sense of community and school spirit I felt." In addition, in his senior year, he was first seat of the Wind Ensemble’s trombone section.
Aavi recognizes and appreciates the unique learning community in which he grew up. Since OBHS has a close-knit population, it allows students to feel more connected and supported throughout high school. “Our teachers know us by name. They know our strengths and weaknesses, and they are there to help us. The smaller learning environment has allowed me to both connect with my peers and empathize with their situations, an opportunity that most other schools don’t offer their students. I’ve learned how valuable connections are between each other as we are all in the same learning environment, learning from each other, and helping one another. Growing up in such a small community has allowed me to remain grounded and not feel lost in a sea of others, and I’m appreciative for the opportunities that I have been granted.”
Aavi’s final message to the Class of 2020 is an important one. “We’ve been thrown many curveballs throughout our educational careers. This pandemic is just another one of many that we will face in our lives. Our continued persistence and drive to accomplish what we want to in life will carry us into our futures.”
Oyster Bay High School wishes Aavi the best of luck at Princeton in the fall and all the best for a bright future full of wonderful accomplishments!