Student Spotlight: Chai Harsha

Nihara Lijan

Throughout high school, Chai has always been described as a goal-oriented person who has a special love for math. This has demonstrated itself within his performance in rigorous math courses and his participation in the Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics. Going onto the next step of his future, Chai will be attending Brown University and will be majoring in Applied Mathematics. Brown University has been Chai’s dream school since he was little, and pursuing his favorite major there is an amazing display of perseverance and optimism. 

Chai at Symphony Hall for the Massachusetts All-State Music festival. (Diane Plouffe)

When asked how he felt when he was announced as salutatorian of his class, Chai’s response was “it felt good but there was a lot of external pressure to keep it up throughout the year.” He was glad to obtain this position and enjoyed the perks of doing a speech, but also loved the feeling that his hard work had paid off in the end.  He remembers times when some classes were harder than others such as APUSH 1 and AP Physics C, but he stated that “if you put more effort into it, or at least try to put effort into it, then you will get a good result in the end. I never put in more effort than I felt was necessary so I could achieve what I consider success without overexerting myself and burning out.” 

Chai quotes “I am fancy” after this picture. (Grace Newton)

Chai says that studying for his AP classes was challenging in the beginning, but the most important strategy is to find a rhythm. “Doing the work is big, but it is more important to find the study method that best suits you – that is different for everyone,” says Chai.  For example, he had mentioned that, for Physics, he would complete half the problems the day they were assigned and he would leave the rest as extra practice for the night before to retain the information better. He also mentioned that for classes like APUSH, whenever he had to do textbook notes, he would always write a summary of what he took notes on in the margins to help him understand the chapter better.

Pantherbook also asked Chai what his favorite classes and classes that he recommends are. He loves AP Physics C and AP Language and Composition. Chai says, “both Mr. Chung and Dr. Kellett are phenomenal teachers who always help you reach your best self and the way they teach is also so engaging”. Chai is also an amazing musician and carries a special love for Orchestra. He also adds that “Mrs. Plouffe is the best and that’s an understatement”. 

Overall, how did Chai become a salutatorian?

“I knew it was a possibility but I never really considered it a motivator nor did I desire it. I have always led by: do your best work and find a balance between doing the best work that I can be proud of but also not burning myself out.” Chai also mentions that he had amazing support from his teachers, friends and family who were there every step of the way. 

When asked how COVID impacted him, Chai responded with; “it didn’t really impact me as badly.” Chai mentions how he ended up getting better grades when he was online because he was less stressed and had more time to sleep. This was the same year that he got selected to participate in the All Eastern Orchestra in Pittsburgh, even though it was unfortunately also online.

Everybody has a specific motivation. To Chai, it is to be the best that he can be, find success while being happy in life, and leaving the world around him better than he found it!

Lastly, Chai’s favorite quote is by Thomas Paine and is: “The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren and to do good is my religion.”

Amazing job on your achievement, Chai! We wish you the best of luck in your future.