I don’t know if they keep such accounts, but if they do, then NDP senior, Amanda Abraham, surely must hold the record for the fastest talker on the planet. I should have tape-recorded our interview together. Instead, I arrived armed with only a note pad and pen and became positively giddy trying to keep up with Amanda as she recounted the details of her short but jam-packed high school career. Let’s just say, the Gosselin Twins could take a pointer or two from Amanda. It’s not that Amanda is full of herself, either. None of the NDP girls I interview are that. In fact, Amanda, like those who’ve come before her, is quite modest. Which is not to say she is not confident. She is. Confidence is a quality that is encouraged and developed in each NDP girl and which will hold her in good stead far beyond graduation. That confidence allows every NDP student to try new things, take on challenges, dare to fail…and to succeed. In turn, that confidence paves the way for far more important and bona fide virtues. Virtues like courage, which each NDP girl will need plenty of as she faces life’s many challenges in the “real world.”
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. And Amanda.
No, Amanda has so much to say and says it so fast because she is so darn happy and excited about it all. All the events. All the clubs and extracurriculars. All the opportunities. For Amanda, there is no downside to any of it. It’s only a matter of choice. What to pursue. What to partake of. What to learn more about. Her enthusiasm is contagious. I find myself grinning from ear to ear throughout the interview. I thought “sullen teenager” was par for the teenage course and, in fact, a redundant bit of phraseology. I see none of that in the person of Amanda Abraham. She is bright and charming and eager to share her love of, well, so very many things with you. At 17, she is truly accomplished.
Let’s start with the fact that she is the Student Council President, the top leadership position in the school.
“Well, I was the secretary in sophomore year and then I was the Vice-President in junior year, and at the end of my VP term everyone encouraged me to run for President so…”
“…Here you are.”
“Here I am!” Amanda concurred. “”And, I mean, it’s a real honor. You know, part of my job is to give speeches and organize events, and get people excited about those events, and run meetings and support the administration, and…”
“Sounds like a lot of work!”
“Oh no! I mean, yes, I guess, but, you know I just love it so much and it’s a great opportunity and…”
Opportunity is a word that factors greatly in Amanda’s vocabulary and defines her young outlook on life. She is all about taking advantage of the many, many opportunities she’s been exposed to in and outside of Notre Dame. To that end, Amanda has pursued a love for music and dance in a variety of ways. At Notre Dame, in addition to her role as Student Council President, Amanda is also President of the Tri-M Music Honor Society, plays first clarinet in the school band, and takes piano lessons outside of Notre Dame.
“Music is and has always been such a big part of my life. Ever since I can remember. I love all kinds of music. Popular, classical, dance…”
Her biggest passion at the moment is Indian Classical Dancing. As a first generation American whose parents are originally from Kerala, India, it is important to Amanda to embrace and immerse herself in her Indian culture. She is currently a student at the Nrithyashala Dance Academy in Hunt Valley (Amanda’s dance teacher once performed for President Obama at the White House). So far, Amanda’s biggest dance goal is to perform some of her traditional dances with her sister, Brianna, a sophomore, at the NDP dance assembly in February. An opportunity for which they will have to audition. If she and Brianna make the cut, they will perform their dances dressed in traditional Indian garb. It would be a beautiful opportunity for Amanda and Brianna to share their culture with the rest of the school. Amanda enjoys not only sharing her own culture but learning about others as well. To that end she is a member of the Cultural Awareness Club at NDP and attended the National Diversity Conference earlier this year. In addition to all that, Amanda is Captain of the Cheerleading Team, Vice President of the Spanish Club, the P.R. officer of S.A.D.D. (students against destructive decisions) and teaches Sunday School at her church. As I listen to all the things Amanda is involved with and “passionate” about, I can’t help but wonder when on earth she ever finds time to study. That concern is quickly put to rest when I casually ask if she is in any honor societies. With that, she blithely ticks off a list.
“Um, yes. I’m a member of the Science, Spanish, Social Studies, and Music Honor Societies.”
“Anything else?” I ask, thinking to myself, “How can there be?”
“Um, oh yeah. I’m also a member of the National Society of High School Scholars.”
“Not much of an achiever are you, Amanda?” I tease. “Well, you’ve still got one more semester to make a name for yourself. See what you can do about that.” She laughs in a self-deprecating way but can do nothing to hide her zest for life. The fact of the matter is, at this point in her life, she is having a ball. Not that she has anything to worry about. She would like to major in pre-med in college and has already been accepted to two schools. Life is good for Amanda and it is not lost on her.
“I’m so grateful to my parents for sending me here. I know they want the best for me, and I know if I work hard enough, I can achieve it. I mean, Notre Dame has just been so awesome. I’ve had some amazing teachers, and I have so many friends. I love the community here. I’ve never once felt like I didn’t belong. I really feel supported here.”
“What advice would you give your sister about her time here at NDP?” I ask. Not surprisingly, Amanda doesn’t hesitate with her answer.
“I would say, ‘Make the most of all the opportunities available here. Take advantage of everything.’ I, we, are so fortunate to go to school here. I’m just so grateful.”
And NDP is grateful to have Amanda.