by Elizabeth Nutig
For one family in Irvington, the excitement at graduation was doubled, as fraternal twins Sweta and Swati Narayan were at the head of the Class of 2016 as valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.
Sweta, who will be studying biology at the University of Chicago in the fall, said being valedictorian has always been a goal of hers, and she was gratified her hard work in high school paid off. She cited her role model as her Latin teacher, Michele Cella.
“I have always been enamored by how passionate Ms. Cella is about Latin, and by how much she cares about her students,” Sweta said. “[She has taught me that] I must enjoy whatever I decide to do in life.”
Swati, who will also be studying biology in the fall at Amherst College, was also ecstatic about her distinction and attributed a lot of her success to her freshman year biology teacher, Nadia Parikka.
Swati’s interest in the subject stemmed from Parikka’s passion for teaching, and when she was in her class again for science research two years later, she became Swati’s motivation and support system while researching the effect of PD (a specific cancer drug) on three different types of cancers.
As with any set of siblings, competition is always a gleaming factor, but Swati believes that only made them stronger.
“I think we pushed each other to do better, so it was more of constructive competition,” she said.
At the end of the day, both couldn’t be happier for the other. Sweta remarked, “I think that it is awesome that Swati is salutatorian! I know that she worked really hard in high school, and I think she really deserved it.” Swati commented, “I cannot think of anyone that deserves it more than [Sweta] does and I am so proud to be able to say that she’s my sister.”
Irvington High School Principal David Cohen called the twins’ accomplishments an inspiration to the Irvington High School community.
“In all of my years as an educator I have never heard of twins earning the distinctions of Valedictorian and Salutatorian for the same school,” he said. “Sweta and Swati are truly remarkable young ladies who each have demonstrated their unique brilliance in the classroom and in their extra-curricular activities.”
When asked what advice they would give to incoming freshmen about high school, they both put in their two cents.
“There are going to be times when you feel frustrated or that things aren’t working out but it’s more important to focus on how you get over it and move on from it and learn from it,” Swati remarked.
Sweta added, “If you sincerely and wholeheartedly try your hardest, you will do great in high school. Remember: Do not underestimate yourself! You can accomplish anything if you really put your mind to it!”