During our meeting February 25, 2019, we honored Erin Ravindran as the Florida Atlantic University High School Rotary Scholar for March 2019.  The FAU High School Rotary Scholar of the Month is selected by the FAU HS staff in recognition of character, ethics, morality, community service, and academic achievement. 
 
On behalf of the FAU HS Staff, Assistant Principal Chris Rick highlighted some of Erin's outstanding characteristics: friendliness, encouragement, service, and persistence.  Chris said she experienced this character when Erin welcomed her as a new Assistant Principal, then Erin continued to come by Chris's office to offer assistance and service throughout the year.
 
Concurrent with FAU HS studies, Erin is working toward her FAU Bachelor of Science Degree focused on Biological Sciences.  Erin expects to graduate FAU HS in spring 2019, and earn a BS in Biology in 2020.  She has also completed two summer internships and served as a page in the Georgia Senate.
 
Erin told us how much she appreciated the special advanced study program offered by FAU HS.  Although she was rather nervous about the academic challenge of the dual enrollment program and the daunting coursework, experiencing the Freshmen Orientation provided a sense of calm; she said she left the orientation "feeling reassured by the warm nature and openness of all those who spoke, and their confidence in our abilities to succeed at the school."
 
Having competed in karate for almost ten years, including an opportunity to represent the USA in a world competition located in Poland, Erin was very concerned about the balance between the greater academic requirements of FAU HS and her ability to continue competitive karate.  The karate discipline, practice, and competition required significant time because she participated in the advanced category at tournaments as a black belt.  But, after a short while, she was able to achieve a rhythm with the right balance of sport and study. 
 
Unfortunately, during a sparring competition for the state, she was hit with a roundhouse kick to her head and received a medium severity concussion.  The doctor's recommendation required rest and less computer screen time, which would impact academic assignments.  Fortunately, the unique environment provided by FAU HS helped her deal with this situation effectively.  When she notified her teachers and guidance counselor of her situation, Erin told us that they were nothing short of accommodating.
 
She explained: "My iPad work was allowed to be done on paper to minimize my time staring at a screen.  Deadlines were extended so I could sleep more.  My teachers knew and cared enough about me, that they identified when I wasn't myself and sent me home to rest.  Even for state testing, my guidance counselor at the time, Ms. Chirachella, went the extra mile and put me on a temporary 504 disability plan to provide me extra time to perform to the best of my abilities."  With this genuine caring help, Erin was able to end her ninth grade year fully recovered, and with straight A's and a 4.0 GPA.
 
Continuing, Erin shared some of the unique opportunities provided for her in the FAU HS program: "I came into FAU High not knowing what I wanted to do but having the opportunity to explore the fields and experience the freedom the school provides.  I decided to sign up for robotics as my elective during my first semester and went from knowing nothing and looking to my peers and teachers for guidance to being chosen as a Team Lead, where I still referred to my peers and teachers for guidance.  We built robots for FTC, or FIRST Tech Challenge, and competed with other teams in the region at FAU's TechGarage, having access to an amazing STEM Lab and facilities." 
 
She said that she enjoyed her first taste of engineering, but still wanted to branch out more into different areas, so each semester she has taken a class in various subjects that intrigue her instead of focusing on fulfilling specific credits for her major.  She identified some of her favorite classes as: Design, lntroduction to World Politics, Fundamentals of Engineering, Sociological Perspectives, and Calculus.

Highlighting her internship opportunities, Erin described the first one where she worked as a Product Development Operations intern with Jim Moran and Associates focusing on process improvement and products for automotive dealers.  Last summer, she interned as a Business Analyst at Ultimate Software serving as a middleman for developers and clients within the company.  Erin said, "Both experiences opened my eyes to life in the corporate world and helped me gather a better understanding of the types of careers I want to pursue."
 
In addition to her busy academic schedule, Erin also volunteers her services for St Jude Catholic School as a teacher's aide and assisting with upcoming events.  Although she has stopped participating in karate competitions, she continues to teach and coach children at her dojo, helping them practice self-defense and prepare for competitions.  She also helps the Palm Beach Sherriff's Office with their annual toy drive. 
 
A special service Erin enjoys is the opportunity to serve as an Orientation Leader to help new students overcome that nervous feeling she recalls having when first beginning the FAU HS experience.  And currently she serves as a peer mentor in the new FAU HS Near Peer Mentoring Program which pairs groups of about five 10th grade students with an 11th or 12th grader as a mentor to help ease transition from 9th grade into the new and different environment of university academia.
 
Erin was accompanied at our evening meeting by her parents Rajeev and Sheila, who she credits with providing the primary encouragement necessary for her to accomplish these many achievements.  Fred Licata spoke on behalf of SunTrust, as the sponsor for the March FAU HS Rotary Scholar, offering congratulations and encouragement for Erin.  Concluding the evening meeting, President Ana Londono gave Erin the certificate and additional encouragement, inviting her and her parents to the Rotary Boca Raton Sunset Scholarship Gala May 6, 2019.