Humans of Harker: Opting into optimism

Rashmi Iyer (12) spreads joy and happiness to the world around her


Tina Xu

“If everyone does these small things, on a massive scale it’s going to have a massive effect. I’m optimistic that every action I take, even if it is really small, can have a larger impact,” Rashmi Iyer (12) said. 

Strolling through the Manzanita cafeteria doors with a confident smile and a half-emptied box of cake, Rashmi Iyer (12) turns and waves cheerfully. Between the dessert and her warmhearted demeanor, she has an affinity for the sweeter things in life. She always looks forward to baking with her friends and going on a cuisine tour with foods from all over the world.

Lauren Fu (12), a friend of Rashmi’s since elementary school, has witnessed Rashmi’s love of sharing food – and joy – with others.

“[Rashmi] was always the girl who always brought homemade Indian food [in] elementary school to share with her friends,” Lauren said. 

In addition to baking, Rashmi participates in the performing arts. She joined the Student Directory Showcase in her sophomore year and has always encouraged herself to pursue her talents and continue exploring her passions. After taking Study of Theater in her freshman year, the joy of performing on stage and emotionally affecting an audience thrilled her. 

“I enjoy the fact that through the plays and acting you can make people smile, laugh, cry, and feel emotions,” she said.

In this student-run program, Rashmi developed close relationships with her actors. As she talks about the familial bond between her fellow members of the SDS, she smiles from ear-to-ear, a glint of light in her eyes.

After exploring the performing arts during her sophomore year, Rashmi decided to try cross country a year later. She hoped to embrace the new challenges and define her own expectations.

“I enjoy being active … it’s also more of a mental challenge where I am competing against myself as an athlete, not against other people,” she said.

Speaking on the transition from freshman year to sophomore year, Rashmi recognizes the differences between middle school and high school: the responsibility and pressure that comes along. 

“I think I was too stressed and because of that, too scared to try anything that might upset that balance,” Rashmi said. “But by my sophomore year, I thought, ‘I know how high school works; now I can figure out the rest of my life.’” 

Rashmi recognized in high school that she needed to manage her time wisely and employ efficiency in every subject. She started carrying her planner everywhere. Her friends call her an “advent planner” who structures out what she plans to do for the day, week, and even the month. 

Rashmi’s organization skills boosted her confidence to regulate time. She also learned to look on the bright side and to appreciate her current situation. To carry on her own mentality, she primarily aspires to make a positive impact on the people around her.

When thinking about the world at large, Rashmi believes that optimism is the best policy. She aspires to contribute to society in any way she can – even by using reusable straws and bottles.

“If everyone does these small things, on a massive scale it’s going to have a massive effect. I’m optimistic that every action I take, even if it is really small, can have a larger impact,” she said.

Rashmi’s computer science teacher Susan King compares her personality to Montana in the spring.

“Trees were starting to bloom and the birds were singing and there was such joy in the air because the ground was no longer quite so frozen. That is Rashmi. She walks in with the clarity of a spring day, that vibrancy, that joy,” King said.

Annabelle Ju (12), who has known her since sixth grade, remembers the first time they met in middle school.

“She just ran up to me, she wasn’t even my buddy or anything and said hi to me with a giant smile on her face. That was my first impression of Harker, which was also my first impression of her,” Annabelle said.

Rashmi’s friends have watched her cheerful personality develop from a young age. Vibha Arramreddy (12) has known her for the “longest time,” as she describes. She recalls their memories on their annual ski trips. 

“She’s one of the nicest people [I’ve] ever met, and she’s a very bubbly person. She’s full of energy and is always excited,” Vibha said. “She’s also really inspiring, but at the same time, she’s humble about it,” she adds.

Overall, Rashmi strives to spread happiness to everyone and hopes to bring her positive attitude to her friends and loved ones. 

“I want people to remember me as someone who is always smiling and trying to find joy in everything,” she said. “That ability to find joy is what I hope to be remembered for.”