For many high school students, juggling numerous extracurricular activities makes it challenging to achieve academic success. But for Roshni Shukla and Angie Luna Menjivar, Malverne High School’s valedictorian and salutatorian, more activities equated to better results in the classroom.
“Doing several activities is important because I notice that I’m more organized . . . and I tend to procrastinate less because I know that I have to get this done,” Shukla said. “Otherwise, I’d watch Netflix for many hours, and things just wouldn’t get done on time.”
“Extracurricular activities are just stress-relievers,” Menjivar said. “They’re a moment to take a step back from schoolwork.”
Shukla and Menjivar, both 17, finished with grade point averages of 103.4 and 99.9, respectively, while managing to balance their academic and extracurricular activities. Shukla was part of many groups, including the school’s Model U.N., the Community Service Club, the Newspaper Club, the varsity tennis team, the marching band and the National Honor Society. Menjivar was a cheerleader and a member of the marching band, the Community Service Club, the robotics team and the National Honor Society.
Both students said that time management is the key to success in high school. “When I had an activity, I would structure and plan my time better, which I think is crucial,” Shukla said. “There’s a place for spontaneity, of course, but I think that we have to make sure we’re getting the work done.”
Getting comfortable with their teachers and asking them questions, they added, also played a role in their academic success.
“I’d start off [in] the beginning of the year shy,” Menjivar said, “and then I would warm up to my teachers by asking them more questions. They’ve literally become family to us.”
“I’ve realized that it’s more than just memorization in school, it’s more about comprehension and understanding,” Shukla said. “We always have to ask our teachers, ‘Why?’ and that’s something we’ve taken to heart.”
Both also said that while it was their goal to be valedictorian or salutatorian, they were humbled and shocked to be recognized as the top students in their class. They both thanked their parents for reminding them to do their homework. Through this experience, Menjivar said, she learned that a student’s class rank does not define her.
“We were always trying to keep our grades up there to stay in the ranks, but ranking isn’t everything,” she said. “It’s definitely an honor to be valedictorian and salutatorian, but you’re more than just a number.”
“The first thing is realizing that one activity isn’t more important than the other,” Shukla said, “because there’s a place for family, there’s a place for friends and everything needs to . . . [get its] deserved time. You’re only in high school for four years, so you have to make the most out of that experience.”
Both students also shared the same sentiments when they reflected on their years at the high school. In their graduation speeches, they both plan to touch on what they took away from their experiences at Malverne.
“One thing that I definitely want to get across is the fact that we’re all in this together, and we’ll continue to be in this together,” Shukla said. “No matter where we go, you can’t [take] the Malverne out of us.”
Menjivar added, “Our experiences at Malverne High School is something that we can’t let go of, and despite our different paths, this is where we all began.”
Shukla will attend St. John’s University, and study cybersecurity, while Menjivar will attend Cornell University, and focus on biology education.