By Aubree Gearhart
To those who aren’t familiar with Saaya Parikh, she may just seem like a typical high school student, but Saaya is anything but typical. She is in Cougar 4 Change, Key Club, Leo Club, Mu Alpha Theta, and a non-profit organization called LVGS. Not only is she graduating this year, but she is also graduating at the age of sixteen. There are several students including Saaya that have taken it upon themselves to get their diplomas early.
Early graduation was a bit of an impulsive decision for Saaya. She had zero intention of graduating a year early until she was informed that she had finished nearly all of her credits at the beginning of 2021 when she was a sophomore. She needed only two more classes. Saaya took five courses during the summer of 2021 and signed up for all of the dual credit classes this school year, along with her CTE credit for her last year.
“Being ahead in age as well puts me at a severe advantage. I am currently fifteen, turning sixteen and I jumped from being a sophomore in quarantine to a senior.” Parikh said. “I think one of the biggest things that motivated me was how I could graduate high school at sixteen years old, as well as the fact that I could get a head start on my career path, and doing what I love was a massive motivation.”
Saaya has decided that she wants to pursue a career in engineering and architecture, and will be a double major at UNLV. The CTE (Career and Technical Education) and CADD (Computer-Aided Design and Drafting) programs also influenced her greatly in choosing her profession. Saaya is an avid reader, so when she chose to go down a career path that was proficient in math, needless to say, several people were more than shocked.
“Falling into the school stereotypes, there are two types of students; the math or the English students,” Parikh said. “I was definitely an English student, yet my career passion is based in STEM. By coincidence, I was a ‘lego kid’ growing up, all throughout my childhood I was more interested in playing with building blocks instead of Barbies per se.”
As many students tend to stick with what they know and the things that they are good at, Saaya had no problem with breaking those barriers and choosing to go down her own path– even if it was geared more towards math than English. Not only has Saaya maintained a tremendous school reputation and kept herself on track for where she needs to be, but she has also been able to maintain a social life outside of school and has been sure to still be a teenager and create a multitude of memories with her friends. Saaya is an immensely talented, driven, and hard-working young woman who has spent countless hours to be in the position that she is in today.
“Overall, my senior year has probably been one of my most memorable school years,” Parikh said. “From the people I have met, the things I have experienced, and the events I have attended, I still truly cannot believe my high school journey is coming to an end. In all good spirits, I am absolutely beyond excited to see what my future holds.”