Senior Fahana Bijapuri on Oct. 4 at Legacy High School. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Senior Fahana Bijapuri on Oct. 4 at Legacy High School. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

School, friends helped Legacy High senior find confidence

Fahana Bijapuri, 17, had a hard time moving here from India. She has since been class president.

MARYSVILLE — When Fahana Bijapuri first moved from India to Marysville in the eighth grade, she had a hard time getting to know people.

Since then, she has served as class president and has started to tutor younger students.

Bijapuri, 17, is a senior at Legacy High School in Tulalip. The campus used to be a combination of two high schools: Mountain View, and Arts and Technology. The school was renamed this year.

After graduation, Bijapuri plans to attend Everett Community College before transferring to a university. She hopes to someday be a psychologist for teenagers.

Question: What was it like to move to a new country during middle school?

Answer: It was a big change. The accent was really difficult. The first year I didn’t understand half the things people said. I was so confused all the time.

I think I adapted more quickly (than my family), because I was going to school and talking to people. Well, I wasn’t really talking, but I got to hear them talk. That helped me to learn the accent and understand faster than my mom.

Q: What languages do you speak?

A: I can speak Murathi, Hindi, English and my mother tongue is Urdu, and I can understand Marwari. I know how to write and read Arabic, but I can’t understand or speak it.

Q: How did you learn them all?

A: In school in India, Murathi and Hindi is a language you have to take as a class. Hindi is the language everyone speaks where I lived. Urdu is similar to Hindi, so I guess it was kind of a necessity to communicate.

Q: How long have you known English?

A: Ever since I started school, because I went to an English school. It was a British school.

Q: What do you hope to do after high school?

A: I want to study psychology.

Q: How’d you become interested in that?

A: I was watching a show, “Bones,” and there’s a character, The Shrink. He could tell just by how people answer questions if they are guilty or not. I was like, “I want to know.” But I don’t want to do criminal psychology. At first I did, but I got more into adolescent psych. I think I want to help teenagers now.

Q: Why?

A: I think it was mostly seeing everyone here, or just teenagers in general, and they make the wrong choices sometimes. I just want to know why.

Q: Plans for college?

A: I’m thinking of going to EvCC for two years, then switching to a university. I want to go to WSU, but that’s far and I don’t know how happy my parents would be. So we’ll see how that goes.

Q: Could you talk about tutoring?

A: Last year I started being an AVID tutor. It was nice helping the new students who are coming in.

(AVID stands for Advanced Via Individual Determination. It’s a college prep program for students who are traditionally underrepresented in higher education.)

Freshman and sophomores have to take it — I don’t think it’s optional. I never would have talked to freshmen as much as I do if I wasn’t a tutor.

I feel like they’re doing great. I got two of them to run for class office last year. I’m hoping they win again this year.

Q: How have you been involved in student government?

A: Right now I am running for senior class president, but I don’t have the position yet. I was junior class president last year.

Sophomore year my friend ran for president, and I didn’t know what anything was, so I was like, “OK, I’ll run for vice president.”

Junior year I ran for president and it just went from there.

Q: Any challenges you’ve overcome?

A: When I moved here it was really difficult to get to know people, because I wasn’t able to talk as well. In eighth grade everyone knew each other and I didn’t know anyone. I was new. I didn’t have any friends or anything, so that kind of lowered my confidence. That’s why I decided to go to a smaller high school.

When I came here my freshman year everyone was super welcoming. It was really nice. I got to know people here. My friends encouraged me to talk during class, and that boosted my confidence. I wouldn’t have even been able to talk to you right now if it wasn’t for them. I couldn’t even talk to teachers. It was really hard.

Q: Were you nervous?

A: I just didn’t think I’d be able to communicate properly. I was just, like, lowering myself inside. Telling myself I couldn’t do it.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A: I took the youth aerospace program (at EvCC) in the summer and I think that helped me a lot, too. It was really motivating, because it gets you ready for after high school and the workplace. They had a lot of activities where you had to talk to people and make eye contact and shake hands. That was a big help for me.

Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192;; Twitter: @stephrdavey.

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