This article was originally published in the spring 2013 Harker Quarterly.
Pavitra Rengarajan ‘12 has earned at State AP Scholar Award for her extraordinary performance on the 2012 Advanced Placement exams. She is one of 108 students nationwide to receive this honor.
As their literature explains, “The College Board, a mission-driven, not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity, has conferred this distinction on one male and one female student in each U.S. state and the District of Columbia. Qualifying students must have the highest average score (at least 3.5) on all AP exams taken.”
Now a freshman at Stanford University, Rengarajan took a total of 18 exams during her years at Harker, earning a mean score of 4.83. Some of the areas she was tested in included economics, psychology, statistics, English literature and composition, computer science, biology, history, French language, physics, chemistry, human geography, calculus and music theory.
The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program provides academically prepared students the opportunity to take rigorous college-level courses while still in high school. Last year, 3.7 million exams were taken by 2.1 million students at more than 18,000 high schools.
“I didn’t go into the exams with the goal of receiving any special distinction, so I’m not sure that I had any expectations to begin with. In fact, I only realized I had earned this distinction when Ms. [Jennifer] Gargano [assistant head of school for academic affairs] sent me a congratulatory email!” reported Rengarajan, adding that the majority of the exams she took corresponded to her AP classes at Harker.
A handful of exam materials she studied on her own out of interest. She took the music theory exam, for example, in grade 7. “I had been very involved in music for several years, playing the flute and the piano and learning about music, so when one of my music teachers suggested that I might as well take the AP Music Theory exam, it seemed like a reasonable idea. The AP exams are just a nice way to get credit for the work that you have put in,” she added.
Rengarajan said that her college major will likely be computer science. She noted that Harker has “certainly prepared me well for the academic rigor of Stanford. Courses here seem like a natural progression from Harker. I am starting to realize how fortunate I was to have taken advanced topics classes.”
Outside of her academic life, Rengarajan enjoys being principal flutist of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra. “I was fortunate enough to play the famous beautiful flute solo in Ravel’s ‘Daphnis et Chloe’ three times so far this year, twice in our newly opened, state-of-the-art building, Bing Concert Hall. Playing at the opening of the gorgeous new hall is undoubtedly a memory I will cherish for several years, and I am both proud and honored to have had the honor. Music has always been a significant part of my life, and I could not be any happier to be continuing this momentum in college.”
To current Harker students, she advices to work hard, but, “Don’t forget to smile, laugh and enjoy the process.”