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Humans of Harker: The art of risk taking

Shafieen Ibrahim takes a strategic approach to life

%E2%80%9CYou+have+to+take+risks+in+life%2C+and+they+don%E2%80%99t+always+turn+out+the+way+you+expect.+Whether+it+be+for+the+good+or+bad%2C+it+will+guide+you+in+making+decisions+the+next+time%2C+and+you+will+always+grow+as+a+person+since+there+is+always+room+for+improvement%2C%22+Shafieen+Ibrahim+%2812%29+said.
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Humans of Harker: The art of risk taking

“You have to take risks in life, and they don’t always turn out the way you expect. Whether it be for the good or bad, it will guide you in making decisions the next time, and you will always grow as a person since there is always room for improvement,

“You have to take risks in life, and they don’t always turn out the way you expect. Whether it be for the good or bad, it will guide you in making decisions the next time, and you will always grow as a person since there is always room for improvement," Shafieen Ibrahim (12) said.

Kathy Fang

“You have to take risks in life, and they don’t always turn out the way you expect. Whether it be for the good or bad, it will guide you in making decisions the next time, and you will always grow as a person since there is always room for improvement," Shafieen Ibrahim (12) said.

Kathy Fang

Kathy Fang

“You have to take risks in life, and they don’t always turn out the way you expect. Whether it be for the good or bad, it will guide you in making decisions the next time, and you will always grow as a person since there is always room for improvement," Shafieen Ibrahim (12) said.

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He leans forward in his seat, eyes focused on the glistening white chess pieces sitting before him. Now, perfectly still, his eyes dart to and from chess pieces, up and down the board, analysing every possible move. Then, his left arm re-emerges from beneath the table and with one brisk movement, moves his knight to D5. He sits back in his seat now, eyes looking straight into the face of his opponent as a slight smile betrays his stoic facade.

Throughout his entire life, Shafieen Ibrahim (12), more commonly known to his friends as “Shaf,” never shied away from taking risks, whether it be on the chess board or in everyday life.

Shafieen’s long-time interest in chess began in the fourth grade with a two-week visit from his uncle, an experienced player. Knowing nothing of the game at the time, Shafieen’s losses to his uncle prompted him to keep on improving until he tasted success.

“He kept beating me and beating me, over and over, and that convinced me to start playing and learning on my own,” Shafieen said. “Once I was able to beat him, I began playing a lot online and learning online and eventually registered for the official chess tournaments.”

Now, eight years later, Shafieen has competed in various national tournaments and has been featured on the cover of “Chess Life” magazine.

He attributes his overall accomplishments in chess to his ability to strategize moves and think ahead of his opponent.

“I guess I got into chess because it is a strategic game where every move you make affects the next twenty or thirty [moves], and every decision has consequences,” Shafieen said. “So it is a learning experience where if you make a mistake, it will cost you everything and if you do something well, it is a rewarding experience.”

Shafieen sees many parallels between the decisions he makes in chess and those that he makes in his day-to-day life. He believes that him taking risks both on and off the chess board has taught him valuable lessons that push him to further enhance his skills.

“You have to take risks in life, and they don’t always turn out the way you expect,” he said. “Whether it be for the good or bad, it will guide you in making decisions the next time, and you will always grow as a person since there is always room for improvement.”

Shafieen applies his forward-thinking mindset not only to chess but to long-term goals such as college applications or simply class assignments.

“I find college apps to also be like a strategic game,” he said. “You have to balance your time and focus on your school work while simultaneously applying for colleges.”

Longtime friend Gene Wang (12) thinks that that mindset distinguishes Shafieen from others due to the quality of his work.

“Although Shafieen is really playful and jokes around a lot, once you get to know and interact with him, he is a really meticulous person who cares a lot about the work he puts out,” Gene said.

Despite constantly tackling a heavy workload and managing his own nonprofit, SHAF Inc., which partners with Gannauddog Girls’ High School and College to teach students programming outside of school, Shafieen allows himself to unwind in his free time.

“[Shafieen] has an incredible work ethic,” Shafieen’s friend Keval Shah (12) said. “He knows when he has to do his work and despite taking on a lot in terms of coursework and extracurricular activities, he finds time to relax and enjoy himself. He knows what makes him happy and most importantly, he isn’t afraid to take risks and be himself.”

In the end, Anthony Silk, Shafieen’s advisor, could not agree more.

“Shaf definitely has the most energy in my advisory and is simply just fun,” Silk said.

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Humans of Harker: The art of risk taking