Today, I graduated high school. Next week I will turn eighteen. This coming summer represents a transitional period in my life from a high school student living at home to a significantly more independent college student.
I wanted to use this time and this blog to reflect on my past experiences in high school and look towards the future.
Struggles through Middle School
Like many, middle school was a very difficult time for me. I was struggling to make friends, and do well in school. My general lack of social skills led someone like myself, an extrovert, to become very lonely. This only worsened when I slipped into a gaming addiction (something I will plan to talk about in a later post). Perhaps, replacing the real world with a virtual one was easier for me.
I was afraid to take risks, and in my mind, video games were my way of avoiding them. My addiction got so bad that by mid-seventh grade, I was playing almost ten hours a day, whenever I could outside of school. In retrospect, I realized that there is something amazing about an addiction, that makes the addict deny to themselves that they have an addiction. By the time I realized the extent of the problem, and successfully ended my addiction, I had failed two classes and damaged whatever relationships I had. I remember sitting in class wondering how I ever was going to make it through high school. I needed change and I needed a fresh start.
I started dressing better, and decided to leave the bubble of North Shore, the small, private middle school that I attended. That fall, I began as a freshman at Evanston Township High School. The switch was incredibly daunting to me, but I knew it was what I had to do. Attending ETHS would give me the opportunity to meet new people and connect with activities centered around my interests.
I remember walking into the cafeteria on the first day of school, not knowing where to sit because I knew no one. Unlike middle school, I decided that it was time to begin taking risks, so I sat down at a random table. I did this every day for about a month until I developed a group of friends with whom I sat for the rest of the year.
Throughout the last three years of high school, I have learned that success requires taking advantage of opportunities and preparing for the future. Whether it was taking a train alone across America, learning to trade stock options, watching President Obama speak, becoming a German citizen, or attempting to twerk in front of a thousand people, I have tried to take advantage of every opportunity I could find.
I have explored ways to improve the school as Sophomore Class Treasurer and Vice Student Representative, and have also enjoyed competing in DECA Competitions. This year, I won first place in Illinois in Business Finance, and competed at the international level.
This has become most apparent in my role transforming the ETHS Investment Club. After joining my Freshman year, I became president, began a speaker series, and expanded membership to become one of the largest clubs at ETHS. Although I have written extensively about the club in other posts, I just wanted to highlight some of our most popular speakers, and would like to thank Ben Osterlund, who has done such an excellent job writing most of these posts. Click on any of the names to be directed to the representative blog post.
Our speakers have included:
- Tom Sosnoff, Founder of Thinkorswim and Tastytrade
- John Rogers, Founder and CEO of Ariel Investments
- Steve Rogers, Professor at Harvard Business School
- Troy Henikoff, Founder and Managing Director of Techstars Chicago
- Morton Schapiro, President of Northwestern University
- Gordon Segal, Founder of Crate & Barrel
- J.B. Pritzker, Billionaire, Philanthropist, co-Founder of Pritzker Group
- Neal Wolin, Former Deputy Secretary of the United States Treasury
- Edward Tilly, CEO of the Chicago Board Options Exchange
- Gregg Kaplan, Founder of Redbox
- Mark Suppelsa, co-Anchor of WGN Evening News
- Paul Finnegan, co-CEO of Madison Dearborn Partners and Treasurer of Harvard University
Once again, I would like to thank all of our Investment Club speakers. I learned so much about business, happiness, and the meaning of success. I have also enjoyed connecting with many of the speakers on a personal level, and I hope for some of them to serve as mentors in the future.
Thank You Evanston
It has been quite an amazing experience to be a student at Evanston Township High School – I agree with Neal Wolin when he told me that ETHS may be the most diverse place we will ever be in our lives. Although ETHS has provided me with countless educational opportunities and outstanding teachers, it is the people that have made my experience so exemplary. I met such an interesting, accomplished group of people. I hope that others have found ETHS to be as rewarding as I have.
High School was certainly not easy. From late nights writing college applications, cramming for finals, I have had my fair share of struggles. However, if I have learned anything, I have learned that perseverance solves most problems.
This summer, I am working as an intern at Evanston Township High School under Bill Stafford, the CFO of District 202 in the Business Office.
This fall, I begin as a Freshman at Washington University in St. Louis, studying business. I am excited to explore and participate in the many opportunities that college will bring.
It has been an amazing run, but I am only just getting started. Here’s to the next four years!