Olentangy’s Ushasri has bright future
Story and photo by
BRECK J. HAPNER
Outside of the requisite medical knowledge, every doctor has to be understanding and above all, giving. A specialist such as a pediatrician must have an affinity for children, a special sense of community and the willingness to volunteer beyond the call of duty. You’ll find all these qualities in Olentangy High School senior Harini Ushasri.
Harini has spent her high school career helping others while consistently serving the community and it has been through this service that she found her calling, to someday become a pediatrician.
A perfect example is Harini’s involvement in the Olentangy Reads program at Heritage Elementary, volunteering to help children with reading and writing skills after school. Harini places a strong emphasis on the relevance of reading and the entire learning process, she said.
“Reading is such an important thing,” Harini said, “and I really enjoy the children. They are always so excited to see me and I enjoy helping them. I try to make a difference and that’s why I really value community service.”
Harini’s advanced placement course load and sheer number of personal, school and community activities this year would overwhelm many students, but she takes it in stride.
“School is going great,” Harini said. “I like my classes, teachers and activities. I have a very full schedule but it is fun.”
Harini’s multiple school activities include the Service Club. She has been a member since her freshman year, participating in various events such as Olentangy Reads, Bus Patrol and the Trick-or-Treat for Cans campaign, where groups of students canvas neighborhoods around the area collecting can goods for People In Need (PIN). In December, Service Club members help distribute the food collected at the Delaware County Fairgrounds during PIN’s Holiday Clearing House.
With the group Teen Advocates, Harini works to endorse drug and alcohol prevention throughout the school and community.
“I favor National Red Ribbon Week, promoting drug and alcohol awareness. The focus is about making good choices,” Harini said.
In National Honor Society (NHS), Harini’s service events include the December/January Red Cross blood drive, the January Goodwill clothes drive and fundraising for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation May walk. Harini also engages in peer tutoring through NHS and the Olentangy study hall coordinator.
“I enjoy teaching students and I’m told I do a good job explaining things,” Harini said with a laugh. “It is a good feeling to help others. Tutoring also enables me see things in a different way, allowing me to learn more in my own classes.”
Harini currently plays violin in the Chamber Orchestra. She has played the instrument since fourth grade and has performed all four years she has attended Olentangy. As an Orchestra Publicity Officer, Harini works to advertise events pertaining to the Main, Chamber and Freshman Orchestras. She creates fliers and helps make orchestra event marketing commercials for the school video news.
“I coordinate with the other Leadership Team members to improve the orchestra program,” Harini said.
Olentangy High School Orchestra Director Michelle Moss said Harini works very hard as a second violin section leader and is eager to promote the Chamber Orchestra.
“Harini is driven, patient, compassionate, successful and full of ideas,” Moss said. “She cares about doing well in all that she does. Above all, Harini is kind and meets every day with a smile.”
It was during her tenure volunteering for the Service Club-sponsored Heritage Elementary Bus Patrol that Harini came to an epiphany. Due to a daily scheduling alteration, children were falling asleep on the bus and missing their assigned stops. Students were asked to police the weary kindergarteners and Harini signed up.
“The kids were always excited when I was there,” Harini said. “After a year of working with the children, I discovered I really enjoyed it and the kids really liked me. It was then I began considering attending medical school for pediatrics.”
Olentangy High School Chemistry teacher Marc Ehrhardt nominated Harini for the United States Achievement Academy National Science Award, which she won, calling her one of the most caring and kind individuals he has taught.
“Harini donates so much of her time and energy to others while achieving so much in the classroom,” Ehrhardt said. “She is the type of student that provides a role model for others.”
Outside school, Harini complements her burgeoning interest in the medical field by volunteering at Powell’s Bharatiya Hindu Temple health clinic, populated by local Indian doctors offering free checkups. Harini works at the reception desk, helping patients fill out registration forms and entering information into the clinic’s database.
“I have talked with the temple doctors about the profession,” Harini said, “and this experience has supplemented my desire to enter the medical field.”
Harini’s other activities include Indian classical dance at the Nalanda School. For seven years, she has studied the Bharatanatyam style. The school participates in competitions and performs via cultural programs offered at the Indian, Asian and International Festivals. She also dances at fundraisers for local groups, raising money for Indian schools and other various charities.
“I love dancing,” Harini said. “It is a great way to express yourself. The hand motions and movements are all very graceful.”
Harini also takes Indian classical vocal lessons, performing for local cultural events and religious services occurring at the Bharatiya Hindu Temple. Perhaps closer to Harini’s heart is her Hindu scriptural class, teaching chanting of the Vedas, the Hindu scriptures.
“I am a spiritual person,” Harini said. “The scriptural class helps to ground me in my religion, bringing me closer to God.”
Accepted by both Ohio State University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill for undergraduate studies in biology, Harini looks forward to embarking on her medical career. She is especially interested in studying problems with the endocrine system, catching diseases in childhood before they manifest in adulthood.
“My interest started with my mom, who suffers from migranes, pre-diabetes and thyroid problems,” Harini said. “She kept telling me she probably had these diseases as a child, sparking my interest in this under-researched field. I am fascinated by internal medicine and how a child’s body works.”
Of the many accolades Harini has garnered, she values her Advanced Placement (AP) Scholar With Distinction awards most. Harini has taken five AP exams over the past two years and has achieved the highest score four times.
Harini is excited about attending undergraduate school and venturing out into a larger society.
“I am going to miss my friends as we are all going to different places,” Harini said, “but I am ready to explore the world. I will also miss high school and I’m trying to avoid senioritis. I’m not going to let it get to me. I’m excited to be moving on. It’s a nice feeling.”
Harini is the daughter of Usha and Sreedhar Rao of Lewis Center.