Chamblee Charter High School, senior
By the time Paroma Chakravarty goes to college this fall, she will have earned three different diplomas.
Usually, a high school student strives to earn only a single diploma, but Paroma has worked towards earning a professional diploma in the classical Indian dance called Kathak and a special diploma in German.
Paroma immigrated to the United States from India at age 4, and has been learning Kathak since the fourth grade. Once Paroma earns her diploma, she will be able to teach the dance to others. She said learning the dance was like learning classical music.
“I feel like, ‘Oh, I’m actually doing something that connects me to people in India,’ because we are doing a curriculum that an Indian high school is also doing. They do it every single day and we do it once a week, so it’s a little tougher,” Paroma said. “Living here and having that connection with my culture is awesome.”
Chamblee is one of 900 schools worldwide and the only one in Georgia to offer the German language diploma, called a DSD2. “We work really, really hard,” Paroma said. “Once you get the DSD2 you can study at any German university.”
Paroma hopes to double major in German and engineering, but she hasn’t always wanted to be an engineer.
“I didn’t know I wanted to be an engineer until I went to Georgia Tech for a summer program called “Women in Engineering” during middle school,” Paroma said. “After that, I knew it was what I wanted to do. I don’t want to sit behind a desk in a cubicle, I want to design stuff and build it.”
Paroma has since worked as a counselor for the program, and her favorite class at Chamblee is engineering.
“We do a lot of hands-on projects,” Paroma said. “One of our challenges two years ago was to make a chair out of cardboard and Elmer’s Glue.”
Students had to be able to sit in it for 20 minutes. “The chair fell apart the second day we tried to use it, but it passed,” Paroma said.
Her enthusiasm for engineering translates into numerous other activities both in and outside of school, where she is co-captain of the varsity volleyball team and president of National Honor Society. In her free time, Paroma volunteers at PetSmart and the Georgia Aquarium.
“[Paroma] is such a hard working, dedicated student and a wonderful person,” Chamblee Principal Dr. Rochelle Lowery said.
With a top-ten grade point average, Paroma is taking five AP classes this year, along with creative writing, engineering and German.
An annual highlight of Paroma’s time at Chamblee has been volunteering at the Special Olympics.
“It’s been held at Panthersville the last three years and we’re one of the biggest volunteer groups there, along with Lakeside,” Paroma said. “We escort the athletes around and just run the event. It’s all day—we miss class—but it’s mostly just fun.”
Paroma also devotes her time to Technology Student Association and Science Olympiad, the latter of which she has participated in since elementary school.
“In the classroom, science is fine. You learn the basics, but you don’t really get to use any of that knowledge—you’re not ever challenged to think about [things like] what reactions make a car go faster,” Paroma said. “I enjoy getting a chance to use my knowledge and test how much I know.”
Paroma plans to attend Cornell University as an environmental engineering major with a focus on water systems. She would like to get involved with a team of students called AguaClara, which goes to Honduras each year and builds gravity-powered water treatment plants.
“I feel like everybody going into college says they want to change the world. Engineering is [at] the very forefront of changing things in the world,” Paroma said. “When you design and create something, people are going to use it. That’s why I believe it’s important to build and produce rather than just sit around and wish I could create something. My job would allow me to actually do it.”