Humans of Harker: Growth of a star

Thresia Vazhaeparambil aids others through volunteering and environmental research


Katie Reed

“Something I try to think about whenever I do things is helping other people. It might seem cliche, but I’ve realized that everything I’ve been really passionate about revolves around helping others.”

Thresia Vazhaeparambil (12) perches on a gnarled tree in her backyard, a peaceful expression adorning her face. A sweet-scented garden of vegetables, flowers and various shrubbery surrounds her — a subtle nod to her love for the outdoors. Gazing out upon the greenery, she begins.

Even as a child, Thresia harbored a curiosity regarding the mysteries of nature and the environment, stemming partly from her family’s consistent hiking schedule out in the wilderness. She wasn’t exposed to the true extent of climate change until her freshman year of high school, where she presented reusable boba cups and straws at the Algalita POPS International Youth Summit shortly after joining the Green Team at Harker. At the international conference, Thresia participated in discussions and proposed environmentally friendly ideas for feedback from teenagers all around the world.

“I got to present at that summit, and I think that’s what propelled me into environmental studies and science because that experience was so life changing for me,” Thresia said. “It really allowed me to open myself up to new ideas and different ways of helping the environment as an individual and not on a large scale.”

Soon after, the Green Team appointed her as their designated treasurer, and her environmental awareness only grew from there. She tries to incorporate her philosophy into her day-to-day routine, choosing to live a plastic-free life and practicing other sustainable concepts, such as recycling and reusing discarded items.

“I also like thrifting and flipping the clothes; sometimes I sew it and make changes to it,” Thresia said. “Even if I just crop it, I like to make these changes and implement my own style into it.”

Thresia’s desire to help others is a prominent recurring feature throughout the activities she participates in. Aside from her environmental research projects, Thresia loves to volunteer, choosing to visit establishments that focus on the welfare of domestic abuse survivors as well as various mental science organizations. Make-A-Wish is one particular program that she associates fond memories with, which fundraises gift money for children in need. Having once been a child enrolled in this program, Thresia holds a special place in her heart for those still battling cancer and other serious ailments.

“I was also a Make-A-Wish kid when I was little because I had [health problems],” Thresia said. “I had them when I was very young and most of my core memories formed at this age. This had a big impact on me because I’ve been able to reconnect with this part of my life [through volunteering].”

Close friend Malar Bala (12) comments upon Thresia’s unwavering desire to help others, which she showcases especially often during her many volunteer opportunities.

“One of the things that drew me to her in high school is that she cares about people a lot,” Malar said. “If you come to her with a problem or anything, she’s always there to talk about it and offer whatever you need at that moment.”

Sriya Batchu (12), another of Thresia’s closest confidants, adds that Thresia’s beneficial influence has deeply affected everyone who meets her.

“When I was a sixth grader who knew nothing, [Thresia] latched onto me and helped me grow,” Sriya said. “She’s the reason why I have as many friends as I do now. I feel that she’s well-liked by people and that people think of her fondly as a classmate.”

Upper school mathematics teacher Dr. Anu Aiyer notes that Thresia always bears a happy expression as well as a strong desire to learn in the classroom.

“She brings good spirits and positivity to the classroom, as well as her smile,” Dr. Aiyer said. “I think that’s so great. She is always prepared to do the work and is an engaged learner, and she’s certainly become more confident.”

As well as serving as a positive light to both teachers and students alike, Thresia is a hard worker and dedicates herself fully to the subjects that she’s interested in.

“I’m very passionate about all the things that I’m interested in,” Thresia said. “I really like to integrate myself into the things I’m interested in, whether that is volunteering, research or even through academics.”

One particular interest of hers relates more with the instrumental side of school — she’s a proud member of the Harker orchestra and plays the viola, although she originally began her musical career through the violin. By playing different music pieces in an orchestra, Thresia enjoys a fulfilling musical experience and utilizes her knowledge in string instruments as a vehicle for creative expression. She also loves the community that has grown out of the orchestra and notes that the people within the program always support her.

“The community is one of the biggest reasons that I’ve kept playing [viola],” Thresia said. “It’s such a welcoming community, and we all try to support each other no matter what.”

At the end of the day, Thresia’s passion for assisting others lives on through her volunteering and her desire to make the world a better place for everyone.

“Something I try to think about whenever I do things is helping other people,” Thresia said. “It might seem cliche, but I’ve realized that everything I’ve been really passionate about revolves around helping others.”