Eastern Regional’s 2020 valedictorian Sudhish Devadiga has spent plenty of time in high school volunteering and helping others, believing they make the world a better place.
It just so happens that at the same time, those efforts have opened his eyes to new perspectives on life and the struggles of others around him.
At Eastern, Devadiga kept himself busy as captain of the tennis team, chess team and science Olympiad, and president of the National Honor Society. He worked just as hard helping others around him succeed as he did winning a match or accomplishing a personal goal.
“I didn’t just focus on winning competitions, or what would be something similar to that for a club, this year,” Devadiga said. “I wanted to make sure we had people behind us that were there and ready to take over for us after we graduate. Then they can continue whatever needs to be done even after we’re gone.”
While working on clubs and activities at Eastern, Devadiga also focused on two areas outside of school. Formerly tutored in the Math Circle at Voorhees Middle School — where a high-schooler teaches math to middle school students — Devadiga went back as a tutor to help younger students. He also volunteered to spend time with young children at the Voorhees Pediatric Facility.
“I think it’s really important to do things like that,” he said. “Especially in being able to teach, it’s such an important job because you can help people younger than you get to where you are, or even move past where you are, and that really helps make the world a better place by bettering the future.”
Looking back, Devadiga described a moment that sticks out to him from volunteering at the pediatric facility: meeting with one of the first children he would interact with there on a regular basis. It was a unique challenge.
“I didn’t know what to expect because he was the first patient I worked with,” Devadiga recalled. “A lot of them can’t speak, so it’s difficult to interact with them in the beginning, because you have to be speaking the entire time and keep them entertained. So that took getting used to.
“For one kid in particular I worked with, he was really welcoming and super happy,” Devadiga added. “He couldn’t move his arms, but he asked me to play Xbox with him, which confused me at first for a moment. Cause I assumed you needed to move your arms to hold onto the controller, but sure enough, he started playing with his tongue and chin, which absolutely fascinated me. It helped me understand the subtleties of communication and how everyone communicates in different ways.”
With his diploma from Eastern Regional in hand, Devadiga looked back at the numerous challenges and obstacles he faced over the years and the opportunity to overcome them.
“We should always adapt to new challenges, and this year in particular was an example (with remote learning),” Devadiga said.
Having been named valedictorian, Devadiga said it was important to thank his parents for allowing him to have the opportunities he did growing up, after emigrating to the United States from India when he was 3 years old.
“They wanted to be able to provide me with the best opportunity possible to succeed and in being named valedictorian, I think most of all it felt like a tribute to the fact that they moved out of their comfort zone to come here,” Devadiga noted.
“It feels really good to be able to stand up there and tell them it was worth it.”
Devadiga plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania to study mathematics, with an emphasis on biological mathematics.