The high school senior reflects on her high school experience while looking towards the horizon.
Alan Turing, the English computer scientist known for solving the German Enigma machine during World War II, once said, “Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.”
Turing served as the impetus for Hayley Beluch’s graduation speech, as the Eastern Regional High School senior was named the 2018 salutatorian.
But, this catalyst spills well beyond her speech.
Like Turing’s words of wisdom, Beluch, who certainly may have had others see her potential, has not imagined such “things” of success for herself, as the Voorhees native is turning her tassel with a slew of awards, achievements and extracurricular experiences.
While walking through Eastern’s front doors four years ago, Beluch says she was not nearly the person she has grown into today, crediting the school for her academic and social cultivation.
“The exposure that I got through all the activities definitely did help me evolve from a very introverted person to a very — not necessarily extroverted — but definitely more open to relationships,” she said.
As a freshman, she says she was incessantly focused on grades. After parents and teachers encouraged Beluch to spread her energy elsewhere, she found herself immersed in nearly everything Eastern had to offer.
Somewhere between dominating the tennis court in doubles, in which she clinched several awards, to dedicating lunch periods as co-editor-in-chief of the “The Voyager” newspaper, which received national recognition, Beluch’s identity began taking shape.
“It’s definitely interesting to look back and see how you actually did change,” she said. “Coming into high school, I was very neurotic about my grades, and I was not as social as I am now and not as confident in myself. But, Eastern really gave me the opportunity to find myself.”
From serving as the lieutenant governor of Division 5 of the New Jersey District of Key Club International to fulfilling duties as president of the Rho Kappa History Honor Society, Beluch is the recipient of many prizes, such as the AP Scholar with Distinction Award, Presidential Volunteer Service Award Bronze Level and Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership for Service Award — to name only a few.
And while she found flairs in a range of topics from editorial cartooning to delving into history books, Beluch, who was named Eastern’s October Scholar of the Month, says her heart lies in English studies, as her love of reading and writing is leading the former Signal Hill student to Kenyon College in Ohio this fall — the alma mater of notable writers such as John Green and E. L. Doctorow.
Visiting the campus a week before College Decision Day, Beluch says she knew she was at home when she saw students engrossed in novels everywhere she turned — a love she unearthed from English teachers at Eastern.
“(My teachers) have given me such confidence — whether it’d be through reaffirming things that I’m going for, my goals in life or challenging me to redirect myself.”
Gleaming with gratitude, Beluch says one day, she’d like to inspire students to find their passions, particularly through language arts, as her dream is to eventually circle back to Eastern to educate.
“They all gave me so much guidance beyond the classroom. And, I want to be able to give back to students the way they gave back to me,” she said. “It’s like a continuous cycle, too, because if you take something good out of life, you have the obligation to give something good to someone else.”
For now, though, Beluch aims to enlighten the graduation audience with her own experiences, using that Enigma machine as a metaphor.
Beluch sees a correlation between cracking codes and discovering individualism as high schoolers. Coming in as freshmen, students are still discovering themselves. Yet, even though they’re all exposed to the same opportunities, they inevitably foster their own paths.
“Eastern was kind of like our first exposure to the Enigma, because Eastern enciphered us differently. … Now, we have to our embrace our self encryption and put it to use to serve others and embrace the fact that we’re going to continuously change and we’re going to continuously be encrypted by the enigma that is life. … Everyone has different qualities that make them who they are and then take those qualities and put them to use,” she said.