The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

Humans of Harker: Fostering connection

Medini Halepete cultivates confidence across collaboration in research and tennis
%E2%80%9CI+always+try+to+put+others+in+front+of+me+and+make+sure+that+I+can+be+there+for+as+many+people+in+my+life+as+possible.+Even+if+Im+going+through+something+I+make+sure+to+give+people+my+undivided+attention+if+they+need+it.+When+I+volunteered+at+the+Marine+Center+in+Santa+Cruz%2C+I+encountered+so+many+people+with+so+many+different+opinions.+Just+meeting+new+people+with+unique+personalities+taught+me+to+have+an+open+mind+in+any+situation%2C%E2%80%9D+Medini+Halepete+%2812%29+said.
Disha Gupta
“I always try to put others in front of me and make sure that I can be there for as many people in my life as possible. Even if I’m going through something I make sure to give people my undivided attention if they need it. When I volunteered at the Marine Center in Santa Cruz, I encountered so many people with so many different opinions. Just meeting new people with unique personalities taught me to have an open mind in any situation,” Medini Halepete (12) said.

Towering redwood trees and biting winds characterize the road to Santa Cruz: now Medini Halepete’s (12) weekly commute. Whether she is visiting biochemistry labs on the UC Santa Cruz campus or volunteering at the nearby Seymour Marine Discovery Center, Medini finds herself making the trek southward fairly often. Early in her high school career, Medini was less willing to try new things, but her research allowed her to take the next step and further her independence.

“I drive down to Santa Cruz two to three times a week,” Medini said. “Over the summer, I was in the lab for a couple weeks and did hands-on drilling and collecting of data which was really cool. I was left alone a lot of times and getting to be there working with the instruments and collecting data was so calming. It’s also satisfying because I have to solve the mystery, which pushes me to keep going and trying to find results.”

Medini discovered her passion for science in eighth grade, when she participated in the Synopsys Science Fair, which exposed her to the process of obtaining data, conducting research and presenting her work to a panel of judges. While the pandemic made conducting in-person lab work difficult, Medini knew that she was interested in resuming her research as soon as possible. In tenth grade, as her love for science blossomed, she dove deep into biochemistry at UCSC, where she worked on a project that examined the effects of an oil spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. In her research, she delved into how the spill affected fish migratory patterns, and how certain species evolved as a result of the natural disaster. 

Along with pursuing science research, Medini maintains an active interest in helping animals, which stems from her own close relationship with her pets. During the pandemic, she often fostered kittens, taking care of them for months, then helping them find a loving home. Witnessing first hand the lives she was able to save, Medini discovered the immense impact fostering can have. Being responsible for these animals was also a valuable lesson in accountability and helped Medini gain maturity. After seeing her help countless kittens by offering them temporary shelter, Medini’s parents allowed her to provide some animals a more permanent residence.

“After I gained experience fostering, my parents were convinced that I was responsible enough, so I adopted a cat in August of 2021,” Medini said. “I also have a dog who is now 13, so I’ve had him basically all my life. It’s important to raise awareness about the issues stray kittens and dogs face. If people got involved, it would help shelters not have as much to do.” 

Alongside caring for animals, Medini found community and companionship through tennis. Through her three years playing the sport, Medini made lifelong connections with players and learned the intricacies of sportsmanship. One of her defining strengths is effective collaboration, which she attributes to her time playing tennis and pursuing research.

“With both tennis and research, the collaboration and teamwork involved in both activities shaped me,” Medini said. “I really love working as a team with people and getting to share ideas. We can all learn from one another and bond over these activities, and it instilled a sense of teamwork in me. Wherever I go in the future, I’ll carry that idea of collaboration with me.”

As her tennis career progressed, Medini forged strong connections that persisted outside the realm of simply playing the sport. Even when sidelined due to a broken ankle, she attended and cheered in the team’s games, an effort that close friend and tennis teammate Sara Wan (‘23) appreciated. 

“When I first met Medini, I thought she was quiet and shy,” Sara said. “But as the season progressed, I really saw her break out of her shell more. I saw her true supportive nature when she was injured at a tournament in San Diego in tenth grade, but she still flew all the way down to support us in the finals match at NorCals. That really speaks a lot about her character. Medini is like a rock for you. She always wants to be there for everyone.”

Medini’s Honors American Literature teacher Brigid Miller also witnessed her more openly express her confidence over the past year. When Medini first joined Miller’s class, she was introverted, but over time, she began to contribute more and share her interpretations.

“Medini has so many strengths,” Miller said. “She’s a lovely person, which to me, means more than anything else. Everyone here tends to be chasing grades and comparing classes, but being polite and respectful goes much further, and that’s who she is. Medini is a really strong analyst of literature, and I hope to see her grow more and more confident in her strengths in the future.”

Whether researching environmental science, contributing in the classroom or hitting the courts, Medini applies her full effort to every endeavor. Still, she also takes the time to support her peers and prioritizes her friends. Close friend Vivek Nayyar (12) appreciates her dependability and ability to always lighten the mood.

“Medini always makes an effort to be really nice and approachable, ” Vivek said. “She always laughs at my jokes, even if they aren’t great. Overall, she is just a really nice person but also really funny. Once, when one of our friends fell asleep, we drew on them together, which was fun.” 

Through forming close friendships in high school and collaborating in research, Medini learned valuable lessons about working alongside others. If anyone in her life needs support, she is always ready to drop everything to assist them. No matter who she is talking to, Medini strives to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible, uplifting the community around her. 

“I always try to put others in front of me and make sure that I can be there for as many people in my life as possible,” Medini said. “Even if I’m going through something I make sure to give people my undivided attention if they need it. When I volunteered at the Marine Center in Santa Cruz, I encountered so many people with so many different opinions. Just meeting new people with unique personalities taught me to have an open mind in any situation.”

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About the Contributor
Disha Gupta, Reporter
Disha Gupta (10) is a reporter for Harker Aquila, and this is her second year on staff. This year, Disha hopes to familiarize herself with the journalism community and write meaningful articles. In her free time, she likes to play basketball and learn piano pieces.

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