Humans of Harker: Serendipity through connections

Anika Tiwari (12) uses her talents to engage with her community


Sarah Mohammed

“Being able to play so many different instruments in an orchestra has given me confidence because I'm playing music around so many other people … and this gives me the opportunity to connect with them which is really moving,” Anika Tiwari (12) said.

Relaxing at 7leaves café located across from the upper school campus, which she frequently visits, Anika Tiwari’s (12) eyes glow as she reminisces about how playing the flute, piano and piccolo in Harker’s orchestra since sixth grade has shaped her. 

“Being able to play so many different instruments in an orchestra has given me confidence because I’m playing music around so many other people … and this gives me the opportunity to connect with them which is really moving,” she said, a soft smile playing across her lips. 

Anika’s community-centric personality has blossomed because of not only her experiences in orchestra, but also water polo, Key Club and Future Problem Solvers (FPS). She enjoys participating in many Harker activities to connect the community.  

“When I joined Key Club as a freshman, there were only a few students in the club, but in my heart, I knew this club could make a difference in our community,” she said. 

Now, Anika is president of Key Club, which focuses on providing various service opportunities to the upper school community. Anika has spearheaded large initiatives in Key Club such as Treats for Troops, which brings students and families together to donate candy for troops. The initiative has become a Harker tradition. With Anika’s leadership, Key Club extends off-campus initiatives with other schools and works hand in hand to collaborate and fulfill key ideas for social good. 

“We are one school in a division of bigger schools and being able to connect in a place where you can meet other people through service is powerful,” Anika said. 

The importance of being a team player is vital for all of Anika’s undertakings. True to her words and her impeccable dedication, she has continued to give her best to FPS since fourth grade, a club which builds effective and creative problem solving models and uses them to compete. 

As president of FPS, she is a driving force in the club’s team spirit through the successes and the challenges. After not performing well in a skit, one of the components of FPS, Anika encouraged the team to come up with a new and original idea. 

“By thinking outside the box while still being simple enough to have the idea come across really well, our team was able to work together in a way that we weren’t able to before,” she said.

Anika appreciates her team’s creativity and enjoys watching and helping her team grow closer through hardship. 

Similar to facing her challenges in the FPS skit, Anika also doesn’t shy away from challenges in water polo. After starting water polo in ninth grade, she realized how competitive and rough the sport is, but instead of quitting, she learned to appreciate the way water polo mixes aggression and physical effort while maintaining a close-knit team environment. Ultimately, Anika feels she has found “serendipity in being in the water and finding balance through water polo.” 

“I think the reason why I love water polo and outreach clubs so much is because it’s a way to be present and connect with my officers and all the members,” she said. 

Although she participates in many different activities, Anika’s close friend, Anya Gert (12), appreciates that Anika always makes time for her friends. 

“I can always rely on Anika for a quick response. She’s always willing to go out of her way to help somebody, and always by my side if I ever need help. She’s always the first to recognize situations where she can act on something or help out,” Anya said. 

Anya also appreciates Anika’s spontaneity and impulsiveness when contributing to conversations. 

“Saying random things has become a quintessential ‘Anika trait.’ Her impulsivity also makes it really entertaining to spend time with [her]; she always has a funny thing to say or a new idea for what we should do,” Anya said. 

Naviya Kapadia (12), who Anika has been best friends with since sixth grade, is proud to call Anika her friend. 

“My interactions with Anika never fail to make me smile … and there’s no one else I’d rather spend my high school years with,” Naviya said. 

Anika retains her caring, effusive personality even in academic settings where she is a role model for her classmates. 

“More important than her academic talents, Anika is a wonderful person. I remember one of her classmates saying that they wished they [were] her – I can’t blame them,” Anika’s biology teacher Dr. Matthew Harley said. 

Warm and down to earth, Anika cares not only about making connections with her community but also with nature. She shares the interest of bird watching with her family, and her family vacations revolve around visiting jungles and bird enclaves to appreciate the stillness and the whispers in the woods. 

“Just being in the jungle in Belize and in Panama stands out to me as special moments. Being in the midst of it all and absorbing nature while appreciating the environment is truly my serendipity,” she said.