Iman Acharya


Q:  What do you plan to do after high school?

A:   So my current plan is to go to college in London next year to study politics. But that's up in the air right now because of the whole visa situation, which is kind of an added layer of stress right now. In terms of life stuff, I think I want to work in some arena of public policy, and anything that allows me to travel mainly.


Q: What clubs and activities are you engaged in at Masterman?

A: So the big two clubs and activities that I've been a part of have been Peer Counseling, which I love and I've been doing since sophomore year, and the Feminist Club which I've been co-President of since junior year, and it's really cool. I really love being a part of these communities at Masterman. Both of them allow me to engage with people I don't usually hang out with and that aren't in my social circles. It's really cool to have these spaces that you come to once or twice a week that just allow you to be with totally different people.


Q: What is your best memory from senior year?

A: Oh my god. It was so short. I don't know if it was the best memory, but one that definitely sticks out was the day that we won Mock Election. Less for the actual winning the election thing, but it was a really nice moment -- our entire [AP U.S.] Gov. class got together in the hallway so we could all be together even though it was like in the middle of like other classes. It showed how much we'd all bonded both through mock election and just in general, everyone was just so excited and happy and it just felt like a big moment.


Q: How has your high school experience shaped you?

A: I think it's shaped me a lot, I think in a bunch of different ways. I think the main one is that I've had an interesting journey with how I look at school and like my self-esteem. I definitely went into high school with the mentality, "everything has to be perfect and I have to be the top of everything and everything to be the best." Then that anxiety got to me and I think for freshman to sophomore year. I definitely needed to put school on the back burner and like to take care of my mental health and they kind of seemed like they were opposing ends at the time. Like, it didn't feel like it was something I could balance -- I had to either take care of my mental health or like do fine in school. And I think that like after sophomore year, I was able to really find a balance of like, okay, this I need to prioritize my health and how I'm feeling. Like how I am on top of it like, do that and prioritize that over like grades and this more like artificial stuff. And I think it really helped me like rediscover my passion for learning and why I enjoy doing stuff in the first place. And like work hard from a part of like, oh, well, I enjoy doing this and I want to learn and I want to be smarter instead of like the competition aspect that I think a lot of us fall into. Which is nice. I think it's a cool like skill set, or like things to know about myself going into college.


Q: Do you have a most formative high school experience like a moment that you can look back on and see clearly see how you were different before and after. And that was like the thing that changed you.

A: I think a big one is doing photography, especially freshmen and sophomore year when I was doing it a ton. Going into high school, I had really bad social anxiety and I would only ever hang out with the same small group of people and I was terrified of everyone else. I think it really helped me find myself especially because I was shooting portraits. I was meeting new people all the time. And it not only helped introduce me to some of my best friends ever to this day, but also just kind of figure out who I was and how I wanted to present myself to people and how I felt comfortable. It helped me in a bunch of different ways going through high school and just having a basic sense of self and knowing how to talk to people. 


Q: How do you feel about your senior year being cut short?

A: Pretty good. It kind of fluctuates every week. It kind of just hasn't happened yet, which I think is the big thing. I think it's why I've been kind of handling this whole thing better than a lot of my friends have, I haven't really accepted the fact that we're not going back in my head. But it sucks, I really liked the idea of endings and things having nice, packaged endings. It's been eight years and it feels --  it's hard to not keep remembering all the things that we're missing out on, especially all the big goodbyes. And there are a lot of teachers that I have imagined how I would say goodbye to and how I would write letters to everyone and have these big moments. But part of me just thinks that it's like, you know, it's what's happening and there's not anything I can do about it. And I trying to remind myself that the individual moments that have happened along the way don't mean less just because we don't get this big ending and the big finale. Everything that happened along the way so like is worth what it was.


Q: If you could change something about Masterman, what would you change?

A: In Masterman, I think it's an overarching theme of diversity, both in the staff and in the students. I think that Masterman has such an amazing opportunity in the middle school to be able to support these kids from different backgrounds and really cater to everyone's learning needs, but they just don't do that. I think they let down so many students who come into fifth grade by not having the same baseline, especially at math levels.  Then you see such a different rate of diversity in the high school -- it is so much worse than middle school. So I think really carrying out those programs to make sure everyone is at the same baseline and fifth and sixth grade and teacher diversity.


Q: What would you change about the school district? 

A: I think it's what you guys are doing. Bridging this gap between schools, just because there's such a mental separation between students at certain schools versus others. It really is interesting, because, there are such different and shared experiences across all of it. On one hand, we're all from Philly, and we're all in the same age group. We all have this like, kind of generational common culture. But, I think it's a shame that we don't take more opportunities to like bridge those gaps. 


Q: And if you change anything about Philadelphia,

A: So much, I love Philly but we do so many things so badly. My God, I think the homelessness problem here is so bad, and homeless people are so dehumanized. It makes sense that we're all desensitized to it. It still is heartbreaking how many people can walk away from someone on the street and just pretend not to hear them and pretend that they don't even exist. Also, youth incarceration, which is something that I think is really easy for a bunch of us in certain communities to turn a blind eye to but it's so prevalent in our city is like terrifying.