Long before the pair were named the top two students of their graduating class at Herricks High School, Eish Maheshwari and Sahith Vadada became friends in sixth grade.
“We both went to different elementary schools,” Vadada, the salutatorian, said.
“Then each of us moved to Herricks in fourth and fifth grade and slowly integrated into the Herricks community,” Maheshwari, the valedictorian, said.
“Then we became really close friends in sixth,” Vadada said, “We’ve helped each other through projects and classwork and it was always a collaborative effort.”
Though Maheshwari’s and Vadada’s grades place them at the top of Herricks’ academic heap, both students boast laundry lists of extracurricular and volunteer accomplishments.
Both Maheshwari and Vadada are National Honor Society members, National Merit semifinalists, National AP Scholars, President’s Volunteer Gold Award recipients and awarded science research students. They both volunteer at local hospitals, Maheshwari at Winthrop and Vadada at Northwell, assisting patients and physicians.
“We’re both interested in medicine so we’re definitely interested in those seven- or eight-year medical programs,” Maheshwari said. Neither Maheshwari or Vadada has any particular school in mind yet, but they are applying to various Ivy League schools and medical programs with interests in careers in surgery.
Maheshwari has co-authored an internationally published book on sarcoma, attends the Columbia University Honors Science Program every Saturday and was named a 2018 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) grand award fourth-place winner in translational medicine, receiving a special award from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia along with a scholarship.
“I was able to collaborate with students from all around the world on a variety of topics,” Maheshwari said about the ISEF, his fondest memory at Herricks. “It was a really interesting experience, to be apart of that community of people with identical goals.”
Vadada and two of his research partners earned Siemens Science Competition Regional finalist distinction last year and he later represented the team at the Junior Science and Humanities competition. For three summers, he spent time in India volunteering at rural health centers.
Traveling to Boston for an academic conference and an orchestra trip to Disney were favorite experiences for Vadada, who plays viola.
“It was really fun enjoying the time with my fellow musicians,” Vadada said. “We didn’t just have to play our music, but we got to experience Disney.”
In his free time, Vadada enjoys practicing his viola and playing recreational basketball. He also played junior varsity and varsity tennis at Herricks.
Maheshwari is a tae kwon do black belt and teaches at White Tiger Tae Kwon Do in New Hyde Park. When he isn’t volunteering, studying or participating in research, he enjoys practicing and performing card tricks.
“I started a while ago when I just got a deck of cards from my parents,” Maheshwari said. “I would perform at family parties and it’s really fun because its so complex, there’s so many things you can do and amaze people.”
Both said that what they would miss most about Herricks is the community and diversity the school promotes.
“The community network here is so strong,” Maheshwari said. “All the teachers support you and your friends, and moving on from such tight-knit relationships is going to be the hardest.”
On advice for students entering or attending Herricks, Maheshwari and Vadada championed involvement.
“Give everything a try,” Maheshwari said. “Don’t be afraid that some club isn’t cool or your friends aren’t joining it.
“Don’t be afraid to break out of your comfort zone. After that it’ll be easier to do again and you’ll be able to find your best fit, which is what high school is all about.”
“In the beginning you should try and experiment everything,” Vadada said. “You should never limit yourself to a certain number of activities.
“Whatever interests you, you should pursue that. You shouldn’t do something just for how it looks on a resume but because of your interest. That’s what Eish and I have done the past few years, we’ve followed what interests us and that has led us to achievement.”