Beyond the Peak: Interviewing an Apex High Graduate
For many high school students, it can be difficult to imagine their lives after graduation. With so many different career paths and life choices to think about, it is easy for students to feel overwhelmed and wonder if their high school prepared them enough for the obstacles ahead. To ease the worries and doubts of our own student body here at Apex, I decided to interview Abhishek Shankar, a graduate of Apex High School. During the interview, I got to ask Abhishek about his experiences at Apex, his life now, and how Apex prepared him for life after high school.
Q: What year did you graduate from Apex High, and what are you up to now (are you in college, a part of the workforce, or something else?)
A: I graduated from Apex High in 2017, and I’m a senior at UNC Chapel Hill currently, about to pursue a Master’s of Public Health in health policy next year.
Q: While you were at Apex High, what clubs or activities did you participate in?
A: I was involved in Model United Nations, National Honor Society, and Debate Club, and I volunteered at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.
Q: While you were in high school, what did you envision your future to be like? Do you think your life turned out that way, or did it take a different path?
A: When I was in high school, I expected my future to be pretty rigid as I had fully planned to pursue a pre-medical path at university. Thankfully, my interests and passions changed as I took risks in coursework and extracurriculars and found my true interests/passions in public health. I think the work ethic I had planned from high school onwards took a hit as I discovered pretty early on that I wasn’t interested in what I thought I was, but eventually with exploration, I found what I wanted to work on, what I wanted to accomplish next, and how I wanted to get there.
Q: What would you consider some of the biggest differences between high school and college?
A: In high school, everything is pretty much laid out for you and rigid, whether it be your schedule, your meals or your social life. In college, you have to be willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone to find your place in those spaces. Also, time management becomes so much more important moving into college! In high school, coursework choices aren’t as important for getting your degree, but in college your classes determine your degree, and your degree is directly related to what jobs you can get, so that selection and overall future planning is important.
Q: Do you think Apex High did a good job of preparing you for college/life after high school in general?
A: In some regards – it gave me some really good friendships, some good AP credits to help with graduation at college, and a general idea of what I wanted to do in college and after graduation. I also had some great teachers (Coach Todd, Mr. Oltmans, Mr. Obaigbena, Mrs. McGee, Sra. Lasher) who modeled what kind of person and professional I wanted to be moving forward. The coursework and social life aspects are pretty different though, and something that I needed to be thrown in the deep end first to understand how to adapt to.
Q: Is there anything you miss about being a student at Apex High? Is there anything you don’t miss?
A: I miss having a lot of free time, having few responsibilities, and being able to constantly spend time with friends. I also miss some of the amazing teachers I had (especially Coach Todd now). Senior year was a lot of fun, and I miss some of the amazing memories I had. I don’t miss how rigid schedules were in high school though, and I definitely don’t miss the classes or homework or lunch. College is so much more fun and interesting, and there’s infinitely more opportunity.
Q: Finally, what advice do you have for current Apex High students?
A: Don’t lock yourself into a career from high school! Find things you’re interested in and then pursue those, and learn from what you end up liking and not liking. Your first year or two in college can be used to explore and then you can push forward on your passions and future career.
The idea of life after high school can pressure students into believing that they must have their lives figured out immediately. However, after talking with Abhishek, it became clear that this is not the case. While it is important to have some ideas about what path you want to take, it is also important to remember that long-term goals are bound to change, and there will always be people that can help guide you in the right direction.