La Verne Magazine
"The Latino Community in La Verne: Struggle, Progress
How to Succeed at 17
by Brandi E. Baumeister
photography by Veero Der-Karabetian
With her eyes on her next challenge, Marisa Vadi, a Bonita High School
senior with a 4.26 grade average, has decided to attend Harvard University
in the fall for her undergraduate college experience. Last summer, Vadi
participated in a six-week Massachusetts Institute of Technology summer
program where she studied chemistry and biology.
Marisa Vadi doesn't look her age. Born on February 17, 1980, she is
a full year younger than most of her fellow seniors graduating this year,
but she could easily be a year ahead of some her counterparts when it comes
to school smarts. Her mature philosophy of seeking out intense challenges
in life is not characteristic of her age either.
Vadi is a Bonita High School senior who is ready to show the world how
At 17, she has been accepted to Harvard University.
Success and challenge have always been a priority in her life. Vadi
lives by the saying taught to her by her parents, "You are never a
failure; always try your best."
The best in life and involvement is what this top student at Bonita
has planned for herself.
Vadi says that her parents have always been supportive in all her endeavors.
"I was glad that my mom stayed home with my brother and me."
When it comes to education, Vadi is definitely a success story. She
currently has a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 4.26 and is ranked
sixth in her senior class.
"I have never gotten a B," says Vadi with a smile. However
skyrocketing off the 4.0 scale is not enough, Vadi is disappointed because
she is not valedictorian for her graduating class.
Due to her success in school, Vadi decided to apply to some elite ivy
league schools and well-known west coast universities.
"I didn't apply to these just because of their big names; they
offer a wonderful opportunity to get a solid education."
Through her application process she noticed an interesting fact about
Stanford and Harvard Universities. "They fight for the best west coast
Indeed, Vadi is in a unique position of prestigious universities vying
for her acceptance.
As a 17-year-old senior, she has the schedule of a college student.
Vadi's typical day at Bonita High School starts at 7:40 a.m. and continues
to 2:30 in the afternoon. Her classes include AP (advanced placement) Government,
AP World Literature, Spanish III, Chamber Singers and Anatomy. She ends
every day with Physics.
Despite her busy days, Vadi finds time to participate in extracurricular
activities. Some of her activities include being a volunteer at Pomona Valley
Hospital, treasurer of the California Scholarship Federation (CSF), president
of Future Leaders and vice-president of COSINES, a math and science based
organization. She participates in the Academic Olympiad and also plays badminton.
A busy schedule? Very. But Vadi is not satisfied. As she puts it, she
needs to be "challenged more, especially in the areas of Physics, Chemistry
and the AP classes."
Vadi has high hopes for herself after high school. She will be attending
college in the fall, majoring in biology and is planing to pursue a career
in medicine. "I want to be a doctor; I'm not sure what kind of doctor,
maybe a genetic doctor, but I want to also work with people."
Vadi has already had a taste of the college experience. Last summer,
she participated in a six-week summer program at Massachusetts Institute
of Technology. She mainly studied biology and chemistry at the summer program.
"I felt very comfortable there, like I belonged....I was challenged.
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