Ramsingh engineering a bright future

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

Even at a time when tomorrow is full of questions, Shantika Ramsingh – the Liberty Hill High School Class of 2020 Valedictorian – has found a way to make the most of her senior year and keep her focus on the future.

“I am really honored,” Ramsingh said of finishing her high school career at the top of her class. “It took a lot of hard work, dedication and long sleepless nights. But I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the support of my friends and my teachers.”

She attributes her accomplishment to two important factors in her life – a strong support system and a wide range of interests.

“It does take a lot of dedication. It wasn’t exactly something I was trying to do. It wasn’t my whole life and soul was committed to it. I was also really committed to robotics and I’m a dancer and those things have a lot of meaning to me, too,” she said. “If it wasn’t for the extracurriculars I was involved in I think I would have gone crazy.”

Loads of classwork, tests and academic benchmarks to contend with made having outlets like her friends on the robotics and dance teams critical to maintaining balance in life.

“It does take a lot of dedication, and you can’t ignore the things you have to do, but having the people on the robotics team, and having an outlet like dance really helped me manage my stress,” she said. “Those helped me keep finding the motivation to work hard. When you’re taking so many AP, OnRamps and honors classes – because our school offers so many – it is really easy to get mentally overwhelmed really quickly. You can see all the work piling up all over the place, and the to-do list I see in my planner.”

Teachers and mentors through her high school career, including Calculus teacher Haika Carr, librarian Lauren Claymon and UIL coach Dan Paschal, not only helped make learning fun, but also helped Ramsingh cope with times of high stress.

“They know when I’m getting stressed about school and when I do it’s obvious,” she said. “When I do they’ll always tell me that no matter what happens it’s going to be okay and it’s not the end of the world. They help me put what I’m stressing about into perspective.”

Advanced Placement Chemistry is the course she recalls as the most challenging.

“Chemistry is so complicated,” she said. “Mr. (Michael) Staton teaches a hard class, but he’s a really good teacher and he really motivated me to try and understand it, and showed me if I felt like I didn’t get it that I really did understand it.”

Math, her favorite subject as far back as she can remember, is where she felt most at home and happy academically, even in her AP
Calculus BC class during her junior year.

“I took it as a junior and it was a class full of seniors, but it definitely became like a family really quickly,” Ramsingh said. “Everyone I sat with was like a big brother. The class was hard, but having such a good support system of people around me every day for that class – and having such a good teacher, too – made it all worth it and fun.”

Ramsingh began school in Liberty Hill as a freshman, and has enjoyed being able to have the best of both worlds in a school experience.

“What I love about Liberty Hill High School is it is not too big but it’s not too small,” she said. “I feel like I have a sense of community inside the high school, but I don’t feel like it’s too small. I love the sense of community I got from joining different clubs. I love how supportive everyone is of everyone else here, no matter what else is going on.”

With plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin in the fall, Ramsingh will be majoring in environmental engineering, with the hope of landing a career in corporate sustainability.

“You work with large companies to help make their practices more sustainable and better for the environment,” she said. “Eventually, I’d like to have my own business, but that’s kind of far away.”

Her mother, an environmental biologist, has been a big influence on her.

“She raised us to not be ignorant to those problems,” Ramsingh said of her mother. “In the last few years we’ve seen the problems of climate change and improper waste management become a lot more prevalent. It’s something that really stares me in the face, and seeing the projected consequences if we don’t address this problem now is what really drives me to use what I can to make an impact on these issues.”

The abrupt, unexpected ending to this school year reminded Ramsingh of what is most important.

“What I did miss was seeing my teachers and my student friends,” she said. “That’s what I missed about school. For as much reward as getting a grade can give you, you will always get more of a reward from being with people who support you. Surrounding yourself with supportive people is always going to outweigh any good grade, no matter how many hours you put into it. That’s really the message I want to share.”

While there are some bittersweet realities at the end of her high school experience, Ramsingh has been able to focus on the silver lining of an unexpected ending.

“I’m just really grateful that through all this we’ve all been there for each other,” she said. “Teachers have been there for students, students have been there for other students, administrators have been there for teachers and students. I just couldn’t be more grateful that during this time everyone has had each other’s back, even six feet apart.”

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