Senior Spotlights: Sophia Chaves-Gamboa, Xander Gardner, Natasha Ray, Michelle Tucker

Here's the latest group of Class of 2021 students in our spring series of Senior Spotlights designed to celebrate each graduating student.

Please note that Senior Spotlights appear in alphabetical order and are based on voluntary submissions that our seniors are completing and providing to the Communications Office.

Sophia Chaves-Gamboa '21

Sophia Chaves-Gamboa, Panther for 8 years

A turning point at PDS:

Mindlessly walking into the theater at 4pm on a Friday night, and now tech crew is a part of my life I can’t live without.

Favorite PDS memory:

Auditions for Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind

"If I could do it again, "

I’d run through the senior sendoff pot banging hallway my freshmen year.

Senior Project insights:

Creating an online shopping mall to make ethical shopping easier

Message for future PDS seniors:

You get out what you put in... if you think something is going to be boring, it’s going to be boring. You can find the fun in most things.

Xander Gardner '21

Xander Gardner, Panther for 4 years

A turning point/meaningful experience:

The college search process was certainly a time where I matured at PDS. Thanks to all of PDS' college counselors that kept pushing me and holding me accountable.

Favorite PDS memory:

My first day as a 9th grader meeting my new classmates and friends

"If I could do it again, "

I would cherish every moment because it went FAST.

Message for future PDS seniors:

Do not be afraid to take risks, embrace every last moment.

Natasha Ray '21

Natasha Ray, Panther for 8 years

A turning point/meaningful teacher:

I was very fortunate to have Dr. Kelley Bethoney and Mr. Jason Park as mentors who were integral to my growth as a student and learner throughout my high school career. Mr. Park is my advisor, and I also had him as my teacher for Honors Chemistry in sophomore year. Mr. Park worked with me to develop good study habits, and that's something that I'm thankful for, as those skills will stick with me forever. He helped me to build confidence in my scientific abilities. Dr. Bethoney was my AP Biology teacher last year, and not only was she a wonderful teacher, but she was an inspiring role model. She helped me to further my interest in biology inside and outside of the classroom and was always there to support me as a learner.

Favorite PDS memory:

Bioethics Discussion Club meetings with donuts in the bio classroom during lunch

"If I could do it again, "

I would always remember to live in the moment! Sometimes, I have a tendency to get wrapped up with prospects of the future – whether college or just post-PDS plans in general. But I would constantly remind myself that it's really important to cherish time with the amazing people around me. The classmates, teachers and friends I've had at PDS have been some of the most amazing people I've met thus far, and I'm so glad I got the chance to learn alongside them. High school is only four years, and the time flew by quicker than I could've imagined.

Senior Project insights:

For my Senior Project, I will be a public health intern at the Henry J. Austin Health Center, a federally qualified healthcare center in Trenton. I will be learning more about the communications side of public health, helping to brainstorm project ideas for relaying healthcare resource information to the Trenton community. I plan to utilize social media as a tool to educate and relay information in an easily accessible way, free of complicated medical jargon, to those in the area.

Message for future PDS seniors:

Try to take advantage of the opportunities that PDS offers to you! I would advise you to join a bunch of clubs in your freshman year. That's what I did, then from there, I narrowed it down to the activities that I truly enjoyed. It's easier to devote your energy to a few activities and clubs rather than spreading yourself too thin with too many activities. When you've chosen those few activities, really try to put your full effort and energy into bettering them and making an impact!

Michelle Tucker '21

Michelle Tucker, Panther for 6 years

A turning point/meaningful experience:

When I found myself at the circle table.

"If I could do it again, "

I would haven't let social stress get to me.

Message for future PDS seniors:Never skip school on mac-n-cheese day!

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