The high school senior reflects on her high school experience while looking towards the horizon.
For Diana Bershadsky, the sky is — quite literally — the limit.
After recently being named Eastern Regional High School’s 2018 valedictorian, the Voorhees native is headed to John Hopkins University to study mechanical engineering, which, she hopes, could pave the path toward a career related to space exploration.
“We really don’t know what’s out there, and to be part of that would be pretty awesome,” she said. “I’ve always been thinking bigger than myself.”
Even if she’s not necessarily garbed in astronaut gear orbiting above the planet, Bershadsky strives to be on the frontier of astronomy studies — a zeal she unearthed in a physics class her junior year.
“Being able to reduce how the world works into a few little equations, and then to manipulate that,” she said. “It was just so interesting to me.”
Like her love of outer space, Bershadsky attributes much of her personal and academic discovery to the school, recalling her days as a freshman when she didn’t have nearly as much confidence in herself.
Along with science, Bershadsky, who has been an active member of the academic challenge, math league and Inventeam, also immerses in the performing arts, as she’s played the alto saxophone in the marching band since freshman year. Picking up the instrument as a Signal Hill student years ago, Bershadsky rose to drum major her senior year.
Each year, the band competes against others from the East Coast. In her final show last fall, Bershadsky says, while conducting her fellow musicians, she broke down in tears on the stand — one of the most treasured experiences of her high school experience.
“The amount of time you put in to making a product to show — it’s something you take pride in,” Bershadsky said. “It was a cinema moment.”
Another cornerstone was the school’s Gifted and Talented Program, which allowed Bershadsky to conduct independent research projects and learn about philosophy.
“The horizons that it expanded for me — it shaped me as an intellectual and as a person,” she said.
Aside from her scholastic endeavors, like Rho Kappa History Honors Society and Spanish National Honor Society, Bershadsky has worked as a junior counselor at the Jewish Community Center of Cherry Hill and even as a lifeguard at Sturbridge Lakes of Voorhees.
Bershadsky, who was the gold medal receipt of the Delaware Valley Russian Olympiada and received a letter of commendation from the National Merit Scholarship Program for outstanding performance on the PSAT/NMSQT, says her assertiveness stems from lessons she’s gathered from not only Eastern activities, specifically the marching band and the Gifted and Talented Program, but also ideas she inherited from her parents.
While approaching her graduation speech, she knew she wanted to shed light to lessons that shaped not only her success but also her identity.
“If you’re going to take something away from my speech, I want you to take away the lessons I’m taking with me,” Bershadsky said.
She’s gained two important concepts from her mother, including asking a question every day and “if you’re going to do something, do it well.” From her father, Bershadsky knows “you are never too old to learn something new” and, of course, to always read.
From marching band, Bershadsky understands “early is on time, on time is late and late is dead.” Finally, from the Gifted and Talented Program, she says “talent counts once and effort counts twice.”
On her own, Bershadsky learned to always seek balance between doing work and spending time with loved ones.
“I want to be remember for something — if it’s for my work, if it’s for the way I treat people — just to be remembered for myself as a character or for the work I put out,” she said.
Bershadsky’s ideologies even seem to spill into her celestial studies.
“We really only have one life,” she said. “There’s not that much time on this earth. The universe is 14 billion years old, and the average life span is 89 years. So, what you do with your life is important.”