Credit: Valia Kavrakis
Senior Valia Kavrakis reflects on her time at Northport High School, discusses her plans for the future, and offers advice to underclassmen.
The following is a transcript of an interview between Port Press Contributor Jules Nguyen and Northport High School Senior Valia Kavrakis.
Jules: So what kind of activities and clubs have you been doing here at Northport High School?
Valia: I am a part of DECA; I’ve been President of it, Vice President of Communications. I am a part of the Academy of Finance, which I am also Vice President of. I am on Tigerettes. I am in Business Honor Society, Dance Honor Society, and Math Honor Society. I think those are my big focuses here.
Jules: How long have you been President / Vice President of DECA, and how did that happen?
Valia: So I joined Northport High School in tenth grade and immediately joined DECA; [I] was super involved. I competed in the Regional Competition, made it to and competed at States. I did other local competitions, and I became really involved in the Business Department and enjoyed all the teachers. I applied for President at the end of sophomore year, and was given the role in junior year. I really think my effort and enjoyment showed in my involvement in all the activities. I know that for incoming freshmen, Students for 60,000 and Key Club are beneficial because they are popular and it gives them a chance to branch out and be more social to meet people. I may be biased, but DECA I think was very good because it teaches you real-world applications you will need post-college.
Jules: You have done all these clubs in school — what about out of school?
Valia: I dance; that’s my sport if you will. Besides that, I am in GOYA, which is Group Orthodox Youth of America, and what it is is basically a church youth group. Greek Churches have their own chapters, which I am president of, and was vice president of last year. It’s based off of community service and giving back. I also started my own program called Financially Prepared Youth, where I teach fundamental business to elementary and middle school-aged kids. I teach money management and make children financially aware.
Jules: So how have you managed to keep on top of your schoolwork and maintain status in all these clubs?
Valia: It’s definitely challenging; I think it absolutely takes a lot of planning and prioritizing, but there is no time for procrastination. When I get home, got to get my work done, go to my clubs. You really need to do things you enjoy doing. I want to be a part of everything I am a part of, so I make the effort to show up and do my work. I also dance outside of school. It’s difficult, but if you want to do it, and you just take a few minutes to plan your day, you can do it. Everything takes a lot of time; I don’t have very much down time. I think if you want to achieve it, you really need to believe it, and when I made my schedules, I knew that they were classes I wanted to do. It takes planning, and dedication, and sacrifices — like staying in to study instead of going out with friends.
Jules: After high school, do you plan on going into something business related? Where?
Valia: Absolutely. I am ultimately going to major in finance, and I know there is a collegiate level of DECA, so maybe I will do that. As for my college, I am waitlisted at Cornell for 2021-2022, but am accepted for 2022-2023 due to COVID. So, I will be going to Carnegie Mellon and then transferring to Cornell for my sophomore year onward.
Jules: Why did you choose those schools?
Valia: It took a lot of research and what schools had good business programs; both are such great business schools. It came down to “okay, what’s the location of the school, how do I like the vibe of the school?”. It took a lot of research which was difficult with COVID, but I was able to visit schools after 10th grade before it got bad. Virtual tours have definitely made it easier though. You really need to connect with people from those schools and see how they like it to make your own thoughts.
Jules: How did you know you wanted to go into finance?
Valia: I first took a class at a Johns Hopkins summer program for the summer after 7th grade. It was a very basic finance program, but I really enjoyed it. It came easy to me, and I could see myself doing it in the future. When I came to Northport, I joined AOF to make sure I really enjoyed it, and [I] joined DECA. I decided I liked business and would concentrate on finance.
Jules: What was the college application process like with COVID?
Valia: It was challenging; it began in August and went on to about January, February. I tried to get them over with quickly, and get them in before November. Many schools I could not visit, and virtual is not the same though because it takes away the whole tour thing and meeting people. Overall, I would tell juniors to plan everything out accordingly, and not wait to the last second — [it] takes way too much time. In the end, it will pay off, and you will get into the schools you wanted to go to, hopefully.
Jules: What advice do you have to incoming juniors and freshmen?
Valia: Incoming juniors: definitely take the year seriously. Every year is important, but junior year especially. I guess freshmen should understand that too — that every year including that year is important. Take classes you like and do well in them, and really hone into your focus to cater to what you want your major to be. If you like business, go into AOF and the business classes. Definitely tailor your schedule to what you like. Freshmen should do the same because colleges see that dedication and see the passion.