‘We are never too young, never too inexperienced to ignite transformation’

Senior Maggie Simonyan leaves an inspiring message for the underclassmen.
Senior Maggie Simonyan speaks at the Mid Valley YMCA on Oct. 25, 2023 during a thank-you event for Assembly member Jesse Gabriel, for whom she interned.
Senior Maggie Simonyan speaks at the Mid Valley YMCA on Oct. 25, 2023 during a thank-you event for Assembly member Jesse Gabriel, for whom she interned.
Provided by Maggie Simonyan

Dear underclassmen,

I write to you as an experienced, overworked and tired senior who has experienced all that high school has to offer: the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows. From landing a national award for first-generation, low-income (FGLI) civic changemakers to cramming for six AP exams, high school has been one hell of an experience. 

Many of you are still figuring out what you want to make of your high school experience and how you want to use that to transform your future. I offer you a glimpse of the most interesting four years of my life up to date. 

Reflecting on my own journey, I realize that the experiences and opportunities I had in high school have shaped me into the person I am today. But I also realized that if you do not want enough to try for these experiences, you won’t have them.

In my sophomore year of high school, after seeing the inequalities in Armenia’s border villages, I founded Armenian Youth Education Aid, a nonprofit organization that works to improve education in financially low-income communities and villages. For three years, I have been traveling to Armenia on nonprofit missions, raising over $40,000, founding an educational recreation center and impacting thousands of students.

I rose from a political rookie to a regional presidential position, officially obtaining a statewide youth government position as deputy secretary of state. I ran polls and contests, ensuring compliance, keeping track of legislative records and tracking government dockets. 

I watered my growing curiosity for learning by doing my own research on intergenerational trauma in the 20th century by investigating 20th-century genocides and interviewing and polling Armenian and Jewish Holocaust survivors to publish my own 20-page paper. 

One of the greatest lessons that high school taught me was that as important as academics are, they should never be held above the extracurricular activities you participate in. Oftentimes, the meetings you have with politicians talking about their last few weeks in the assembly or the speech you read in front of a Congressman about the recent bill you wrote to tackle homelessness offers you more real-world learning opportunities than spending hours of your time to do extra credit to get an A in a class.

Now, I do not expect you to pile on more extracurriculars than you can handle and take the record number of APs ever seen in Daniel Pearl Magnet High School history. But I expect you all to take advantage of your opportunities. 

I am a low-income, first-generation student who will be attending not just any ordinary college but Stanford University. Meaning, I am the first in my family to pursue higher education. I am living proof that you are capable. Everything I accomplished in high school was because of this burning passion to change the course of my legacy. My lineage empowers me to contribute a resilience not born out of privilege but crafted from survival. 

And now, I’d like to leave you with the last few lines of my personal statement, which I submitted to Stanford.

“….the greatest maps we create are those charted by our actions and the legacies we inspire. We are never too young, never too inexperienced to ignite transformation.”

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