For Ward Melville’s valedictorian Kirti Nath, the importance of failure has been her biggest lesson during high school.
“The thing I can take away most, more than anything, is failure is progress, and you have to go with the flow,” she said in a phone interview. “When things happen to you, they may be a blessing in disguise, or they’re just part of the whole process.”
While Nath may recognize the value of failure in life, her high school career has been filled with many successes. In addition to taking advanced placement classes and a 106.52 average, she was involved in the school’s Science Olympiad program and was captain her senior year. She was editor-in-chief of the school newspaper and also a member of the Spanish Honor Society and National Honor Society.
She said some of her best memories from Ward Melville are her times with the Science Olympiad team, especially when they qualified for nationals in 2016 after not expecting to. She said there was a point this year where they thought they were behind, so the members put in extra time working on the competition. They scheduled seven practices, some as long as three hours, in a span of eight days.
“The team became more of a family than a team,” she said.
Gary Vorwald, Nath’s Science Olympiad coach when she attended P.J. Gelinas Junior High School, said he saw how driven she was even in her younger years.
“The future is so bright for her,” he said. “She is such a high achiever.”
While in the junior high school, he said she came in first at a Science Olympiad competition in the category of Disease Detective. For the category, students need to identify the source of a disease and how it spreads. He said while in high school, she came back to Gelinas to coach the junior high team in the same category, and she has the work ethic and people skills needed to succeed in the future.
“Everything she does, she does with passion, with enthusiasm,” Vorwald said.
Nath said science happens to be one of her biggest interests. Earlier in high school, entomology, the science of insects, intrigued her, and then in her sophomore and junior years, she began working at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University as a research assistant in a lab, which led to her senior year project.
“My senior year project involved studying the effects of pharmaceutical pollution on fish at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences,” she said. “So I got to work a lot with fish — which was very challenging but super fun.”
Working with zebra fish embryos, and common antidepressants such as Prozac and Wellbutrin, the valedictorian said she discovered that when found in water, the drugs affect the respiration rate of the fish depending on the concentration of the prescription.
This fall Nath will enroll in the dual degree Life Sciences and Management program at the University of Pennsylvania, which the college’s arts and sciences department and the Wharton School of Business administer jointly.
“I really like the way the program is structured,” she said. “It offers a breadth of study that doesn’t pigeonhole you into looking into a specific thing right out of high school.”
Nath said she’s excited to see what areas she becomes passionate about while studying at the University of Pennsylvania.
“In college I’ll figure out what I’m most interested in, right now it’s probably more science related but it could change as I move forward,” the valedictorian said.
Ward Melville High School’s salutatorian Isabelle Scott dreams of traveling all over the world one day, and if the budding journalist gets her way, readers will be experiencing her adventures with her in print.
Scott will attend Brown University this fall and major in journalism — a field she said she believes will satisfy her love for travel.
“I didn’t want to get in the position of being at a desk job from nine to five,” she said. “I appreciate routine, but I don’t think I can stick with something like that for my whole life. I write a lot and it wasn’t something I wanted to give up, so I figured journalism was the best way to mix those two interests.”
Scott said her education at Ward Melville has prepared her for her future endeavors. Originally a student at The Laurel Hill School, she started her studies in the Three Village school district at P.J. Gelinas Junior High School and graduates from Ward Melville with a 105.1 grade point average. Besides taking advanced placement classes in all four main core areas, she’s been involved in Art Honor Society, mock trial club, French Honor Society and National Honor Society. Outside of school, she has sung with her youth choir at church and volunteered as a counselor and tutor at the local Boys and Girls Club as well as taken kickboxing and dancing classes.
Despite all the preparation for a college education, Scott said she won’t know just how well prepared she is until she is actually experiencing it even though her friends who graduated from Ward Melville before her have given her confidence.
“It’s hard to tell until you get there, but all of my friends who are already in college said they felt very prepared, particularly for the workload,” she said in a phone interview.
After college, Scott said she would love to go abroad and report from different countries, but not from war zones, as she said she is a pacifist. The budding journalist said she would love to do culture segment stories similar to the ones she sees in National Geographic or Time Magazine, reporting on ordinary life in various countries.
While she hopes one day to work for The New York Times, she said she is aware that the publishing world is constantly changing with the digital arena. Wherever her journalism studies take her, Scott said she sees herself doing a lot of traveling and immersing herself in a country and its culture to produce original work.
When it comes to communicating abroad, the salutatorian said she already knows a good amount of French, and she said when she feels more comfortable with the language she would like to study Spanish and Mandarin.
“I think it’s helpful to learn as many languages as you can,” she said.
While she said she has a lot of good memories from her time in Three Village, she said many occurred in ninth grade, including painting a mural in Gelinas with fellow students and visiting her English teacher’s office.
“I had an English teacher Ms. Cadolino, and one day I brought a bean bag chair into her office, and we used to just sit,” she said. “I would come to her for writing advice, and we would just talk. She was very much a mentor to me, so I have good memories of being in her office.”
Scott said she will also remember interacting with all the students who had diverse interests, many becoming her close friends.
“I learned as much from the students as I did from the teachers,” the salutatorian said.