Waliya Rahman (’20)

June 4, 2020

The night before starting high school, I remember being very restless. I could not go to sleep because of my different emotions in regards to starting high school. I was excited to embark on a new journey but I was also extremely nervous. And it was not the usual nervousness that most students have about high school such as the stress from schoolwork, or building up resumes for college or worrying about SAT scores. NO, that’s not what made me nervous. I was nervous to face the “big kids” in school, meaning the upperclassmen and how they would treat a naive freshman like myself. This was because upon coming to East, I was a timid girl, who was full of insecurities and had a hard time facing other teenagers. So boy was I nervous! I did not know back then, as I walked to Mrs. Sassinsky’s Biology 2H class, that this school which I had entered would transform me.

The past four years changed me from a shy, insecure freshman to a confident, proud-to-be-me type of senior and I truly have East to thank for this transformation. Freshman year I hid behind a persona that I had carried with me from middle school as the “shy girl” but senior year I broke down my walls and let people see the sarcastic, witty and dare I say crazier side of myself. I was given opportunities to participate in so many leadership positions such as being President of MSA for two consecutive years, President of the Spanish Honor Society, Vice President of Cum Laude and many more. These were positions that I never thought I could take on but I found a hidden leader within myself while being at East. I loved using my voice to share my experiences during Unity Day, and being a representation for other Muslim students as I walked the halls of East wearing my hijab like a crown on my head.

I liked participating in things that were outside of my comfort zone like deciding to play PowderPuff (which honestly was so much fun). I did not have many friends on the team but I felt great playing because I did something because I wanted to do it despite whether or not my friends did it. This is one of the biggest changes I see as I look at the person in the mirror today. I no longer worry about doing things only if my friends do it too but rather do what I want to do because I want to do it! I would like to thank the teachers and administrators of East who created a place where a student can not only participate in a single passion but pursue many different passions throughout their four years! East has changed me and allowed me to explore my hidden identity and for that I will be forever grateful.

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