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Alumni Spotlight: Manasi Simhan is Ready for Anything

Last year, Manasi Simhan was rallying her fellow graduating class of 2020 in preparation for National College Decision Day. Typically, this benchmark is set for May 1st, but with all the uncertainty around the world at the time, deciding on college came with a whole new set of questions so the deadline was pushed back.

Manasi wanted to put her peers at ease, “Now, I know that deciding on your future may seem daunting…but just know that the choice you make is one that you should be proud of, regardless of what anyone says. Why? Because you’re awesome and you survived high school. It’s as simple as that!” So, how does she feel now that she’s survived a year of college? We caught up with Manasi to see if she’s just as optimistic. 

Ready for Anything

Under “normal” circumstances, starting college is a major adjustment for many. Throw a global crisis in the mix, and it becomes a new level of preparedness. “As many other freshmen would agree, starting college during a pandemic is yet another challenge that we face as students on top of our college-workloads and the newfound independence we have finally gained as young adults.” However, Manasi, like all other Laurel Springs students, already had a leg up.

“In many ways, I feel as though, out of the hundreds of thousands of new students this year, I am likely one of the most prepared for online learning. Laurel Springs students not only have the challenge of balancing extracurriculars and academics, but also have to get used to an online format of learning. Having the chance to familiarize myself with this format is one that has taught me quite a lot about the importance of self-discipline and time management. These same qualities directly translate to virtual learning at university. I think I have gained a sense of how to balance my need for a social life with my academics though LSS, a skill that has greatly helped me this year.”

Majoring in the World

As a freshman at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Manasi majors in Environmental Science and Global Health, two topics at the center of worldwide discussion and controversy. “The genre of environmental health is one that I find extremely relevant to current events across the world and hope to eventually implement into my future profession.” On the health side, Manasi worked on a research project measuring prenatal Pb isotopic ratios. “The hope is for this project to aid in the efficiency of Pb testing in blood and to give health departments the ability to respond rapidly to childhood blood lead cases.”

Another research project led Manasi to patent her latest invention, an ergonomic muscle-release chair, blending her passions of science, math, and design. Currently, a prototype is being developed which will be tested and hopefully on the market in the near future. 

Passing the Torch

Between balancing college and medical device design, Manasi needed to prioritize some of her many projects. While in high school, she started a non-profit project with the Amani Food Pantry. Management is now under another high school student, as it’s still providing fresh food to the community at the MacCanon Brown Homeless Sanctuary. Even though Manasi is still proud of this accomplishment, it was time to move on. “As a college student, I want to find my own niche at my university instead. I hope to eventually get the chance to work with the environmental program at UW-Madison on an identical project, ideally one that is completely student-led.”

Manasi also hopes to continue her work educating elementary and middle school children on eating healthy and starting their own gardens. It was another project she started in high school and looks forward to kicking off again once it’s safe to do so in-person. In addition to teaching others about health and wellness, she wants to instill that same kind of fearless spirit into those who hope to accomplish their dreams. 

“At least 80% of all the experiences and opportunities I had in high school and college came from taking a risk. Remember though, taking a risk doesn’t have to be some sort of high-adrenaline choice you make, rather, it can mean reaching out to an organization, professor, or program and asking them if they have any advice or chances for you to gain some real-world experience. It can also mean applying for any programs or events you find interesting to you because every experience has the potential to aid you in your future. Reach out and be proactive in finding resources and opportunities for yourself ~ you won’t regret it!”

Where to Now?

If you’re asking yourself the same questions Manasi asked a year ago and considering what comes next after high school—or you know someone who is—her advice still stands. While more opportunities are starting to open up to visit colleges, we still don’t know what the fall will look like. That doesn’t mean you have to miss out. You can still apply for programs in a field you’re passionate about. You can still gain real-world experience, even if it’s online. You can still prepare for the future even if you’re unsure of what it holds.

The Laurel Springs Postgraduate Program is one option for recent graduates to fill the transitional time between high school and college with purpose. From a range of available courses to unique virtual internships, it’s an online program that can be customized to support each postgrad’s personal, academic, and extracurricular ambitions. As College Decision Day approaches, remember to celebrate how much has been accomplished and continue to look forward to what’s yet to come.