Humans of Harker: Take a step back

Rakesh Nori (12) internalizes a reflective mindset through all steps of life

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Saloni Shah

“Constantly make sure you are always happy with yourself. I think a lot of people are pursuing something but not really reflecting enough on why and getting lost in actions. I think just taking those times and reflecting on what you're doing and making sure of the truth … will make all the difference,” Rakesh Nori (12) said.

With a large grin lighting up his face and eyes crinkling with warmth, he drops his car keys on the table and strolls over to the counter to order a vanilla bean frappe. Tucking his left hand into the pocket of his yellow flannel shirt, he leans over the gray counter and picks up the drink with his right, curling his fingers around the tall, white cup adorned with the green Starbucks logo. He takes a long sip and lets out a sigh of satisfaction.

Rakesh Nori (12) always aims to be content and happy with himself. Even in the fast-paced Silicon Valley culture, he takes the time to pause and reflect through his multitude of interests: he enjoys not only computer science and research, but also music and writing.

Rakesh’s interest in computer science grew in freshman year when he, as part of the programming club, realized how computer science was more than just one’s personal curiosities. 

“Computer science is something bigger than yourself. You know, you have situations like climate change, cybersecurity and more, and I think [programming’s] main purpose is really to be able to tackle some of those larger problems,” Rakesh said.

The driving force behind Rakesh’s passion is his desire to make an impact on the world that lies around him.

“What I’ve learned and what I value is making sure everything I do has an impact and has a greater impact,” Rakesh said. “I think that’s something I get the most satisfaction from … knowing that something I did mattered more than just for myself and that it also matters to a lot of different people.”

Rakesh has employed computer science through his many summer research internships; research holds an importance for him due to its potential to have the most direct effect on other people. Failure in the process has not only taught Rakesh how to troubleshoot through programming, but also just how much is left to be explored. 

“I think the coolest part about research is how you can just keep on going with it, and there’s no stopping. And it’s really just up to you that being innovative and creative and just figuring out different ways to approach the same sort of problem and seeing let’s try with this new way,” Rakesh said. “Does it get better? Does it get worse? I think in that process, I’m just rinsing and repeating, you get to grow as a person, but you also are doing something that matters to other people.”

While Rakesh resonates with the STEM aspects of life, he also associates himself with music, identifying a common ground between music and programming: he loves the freedom and the creativity to explore different avenues and experience the pathways of imagination. 

Close friend Jeffrey Yang (12) has participated in orchestra with Rakesh since seventh grade and recognizes the reflective nature of Rakesh’s love for music. 

“What’s really special about Rakesh is how he gets lost in the music and finds pieces that he really loves and holds onto them. There was this really special violin piece called ‘Scheherazade’ from 2017, and we still talk about it today because of how much Rakesh loved that piece,” Yang said.

Another pathway that Rakesh reflects and expresses himself is through writing. He recognizes the benefits of interdisciplinary interests since these skills have also helped him with his sense of creativity and imagination. 

“I think writing is a really cool way for you to discover things by yourself that you didn’t even know you had going on in your head. So I never really know what I’m going to expect when I write short stories, but it is definitely a really cool narrative,” he said. 

Fearless to speak his mind, Rakesh does not conform to the expectations that others have of him and, instead, chooses to follow his own path.

“I’m usually not afraid to go my own path and disagree with a lot of people. So I do my own thing. Whenever we argue about something together, I’m not really afraid to take my own stance. I think that’s also helped me a lot and be really sure in my opinions and values,” Rakesh said.

Friend Jeffrey Liu (12) describes Rakesh as independent and agrees with the aforementioned sentiment.

“Rakesh doesn’t really follow other people; rather, he tries to lead. He chooses to go and pave his own path and we all kind of follow along with that gradually,” Liu said.

Yang, too, emphasizes Rakesh’s “uniqueness” and “individuality,” two qualities he greatly admires about his friend.

“Rakesh is really distinct. You know, his fashion choices with neon yellow and purple sweatshirts, it’s just so fun to see what he’s gonna wear every day,” Yang said, laughing. 

Rakesh credits his Indian culture for instilling this sense of self-expression. Whether it’s dance or Bollywood or food, Rakesh wholeheartedly embraces his culture and identity. 

“[Being Indian] also taught me the importance of forming connections with other people and being expressive by yourself and voicing your own opinions. And that’s also helped me come out of my shell and really just find myself a lot sooner than a lot of other people have,” Rakesh said. “Being sure of my own identity and understanding that’s going to change over time has definitely helped me be really outgoing.”

In spite of his dedication to his many activities, Rakesh possesses an uncanny ability to always have fun with his friends and embody a “chill attitude.” 

“I think that’s something I like most about my experience at Harker … that I’ve found a group of people who are not only hard working, but for whom I also really value the relationships I have,” Rakesh said. “If we take everything so seriously, especially at this young of an age, then I don’t think you’re doing high school correctly. I think definitely the best part of high school is that not everything is for real yet. It’s the perfect place to explore and figure out what you want to do.”

Rakesh’s APUSH teacher Julie Wheeler recalls his relaxed and laid back personality that stems from his desire to learn while enjoying himself. 

“Rakesh will always sit in the front in class and he’s very lowkey … He’s doing the work and yet he’s there and cracking a joke, he’s reacting, he’s engaging with those around him. He really enjoys being in school and learning and he does it really well so he’s super fun to have in class,” Wheeler said. “When that awkward silence fills the class, he will engage, and I really appreciate that.”

Liu and Rakesh participated in DECA and the National Econ Challenge together, both being two of Liu’s fondest memories with him.

“For everything extracurricular based, I’ve always liked to work with Rakesh because it’s a great balance between work and play. In Nat Econ, we were able to tour New York for two days, so spending time with him that way was really fun for me,” Liu said.

Through not only his activities, but also his time with friends, Rakesh internalizes a reflective attitude and urges everyone to take a step back from the action of life and become self-aware.

“Constantly make sure you are always happy with yourself. I think a lot of people are pursuing something but not really reflecting enough on why and getting lost in actions. I think just taking those times and reflecting on what you’re doing and making sure of the truth … will make all the difference,” Rakesh said.