This story is part of Newsday’s 2020 Extraordinary Seniors series showcasing 12 high school students from across Long Island with the vision and determination to transform their corners of the universe — and perhaps beyond. See more Extraordinary Seniors at newsday.com/extraordinaryseniors.
Alaha Nasari’s passion for science and compassion for others are driving forces for this Hicksville High School salutatorian whose long-range goal, she said, “is to study medicine — possibly pediatrics.”
A co-founder of the mentoring program Hicksville Inspire Science in Youth, the 18-year-old National Honor Society officer has already gone the extra mile for kids.
“There wasn’t much emphasis on science in elementary school,” said Nasari, who mentored students in grades three to six in biology, chemistry, physics and other subjects last summer at the Hicksville Public Library. COVID-19 upended plans to reprise the program this summer.
Nasari’s altruism is informed by her own family’s past financial challenges, which the optimistic and resilient teenager takes in stride. “Those experiences have made me stronger,” she said.
“Alaha is committed to helping others,” said Hicksville High School guidance counselor Allie Hannon. “She sees the world, and her role in it, in a global sense.”
In addition to spearheading a supply drive for schools in Afghanistan, where her parents were born, Nasari’s extensive local volunteering includes the Breast Cancer Comfort Foundation. Her participation in the support group is partly inspired by family history — two aunts who died from breast cancer.
“Life isn’t always easy. Alaha is very determined,” said her mother, Mahjoba Nasari, 44, a day-care teacher. “I can’t wait to see her future.”
In April, Nasari was named one of the nation’s 150 Coca-Cola Scholars, a highly competitive $20,000 award given to individuals leading the way for positive change in communities.
Nasari, the only Long Island student to earn the honor this year, pointed out that she is constantly inspired by her peers. “They’re so capable,” she said. “They’re doing amazing things.”
It takes one to know one.
HIGHER ED: Harvard University, majoring in history and science
FRESHMAN YEAR: “I’m most looking forward to opportunities to participate firsthand in scientific research.”
DURING THE PANDEMIC, I LEARNED: “Time management is so important. Taking control of time and how you choose to go about your day affects productivity.”