An empathetic and intellectual achiever who strives to give back to her community, Oyster Bay High School’s salutatorian, Riya Gupta, graduates with a 111.65 average. The 17-year-old Muttontown resident will attend Seton Hall in the fall as a psychology major.
“She is what I would call a humble role model,” said Lydia Brady, Riya’s AP English Literature and Essay Writing for College teacher. “She is never braggadocios but shows others what a positive mindset can do. She will rewrite every essay and attend every review session. She shows her peers with effective effort anything is possible.”
Throughout her high school career, Riya participated in clubs and community service activities aimed at helping others. “Riya understands it is important to give back and this aspect of her personality is always truly appreciated,” says Riya’s mother, Agnes Gupta.
Among her varied resume, Riya took part in food, coat, and toy drives and volunteered at the Vernon Middle School After-School Program and The Life Enrichment Center in Oyster Bay. She was a Rabit Rescue neighborhood volunteer, helped with hair, makeup and costumes for community shows, and served as an Indian Cultural Center volunteer.
Riya put together packages for the Birthday Wishes Organization, a nonprofit which delivers birthday gifts to homeless children. She was also a member of the Breaking Borders social justice club, a cross-district student-run program, whose mission is to break down ethnic, socio-economic, racial and religious barriers.
An accomplished vocalist and musician, Riya performed with the Oyster Bay High School Chamber Singers in her junior and senior years and performed at Carnegie Hall on clarinet when she was a freshman. She twice received the NYSSMA Vocal Excellence Award. She pursued an introduction to Tabla Indian Percussion class as well.
An accomplished academic, Riya, an AP Scholar with Distinction and National AP Scholar, was inducted into many honor societies including the following: the Rho Kappa Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, National Honor Society, World Language Honor Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society, and served as this year’s president for the Mu Alpha Theta Honor Society. As president, Riya created a math tutoring plan for the elementary and middle school grades. The students offered Zoom tutoring to students at Oyster Bay’s Theodore Roosevelt and Vernon schools. One time, Riya said she tutored 13 children during a session. Separately, she also tutored classmates in Spanish and chemistry.
Riya attributes her success to her stick-to-itiveness. “I prioritized myself and my grades. I learned how to say no and understood that I had different priorities and a bigger picture in mind for myself,” she said, noting that she often prioritized schoolwork over social activities.
“Riya never procrastinates. She prioritizes her work,” Agnes said. “Her concentration and ability to focus on what is important helps her tremendously. She has a vision and is goal-driven and knows exactly what she wants out of life.”
That internal drive has helped Riya push through her own anxiety and stress. She faces those challenges by incorporating yoga and exercise. Her advice to incoming freshmen is to stay focused.
“Develop an internal focus of control and prioritize yourself,” she said. “Sometimes we can get lost in what everyone else is doing. Be aware of your strengths and your weaknesses and you will be ok.”