An award-winning poet and novelist, Sasha DeSilva ‘16 has shaped her path to excellence with an eloquent use of prose.
As she moves on to the next chapter of her life, Class of 2016 valedictorian Lieutenant Junior Grade LT(JG) Sasha DeSilva would like to be remembered not only for doing well in school, but also for her creative spirit, dedication, kindness, friendship and humility.
In the field of academics, Sasha distinguished herself as an AP Scholar with Honors and has been an active participant in the Student Advisory Committee, Teen Science Cafe, the National Honor Society, and the Spanish National Honor Society. A co-founder of the school’s poetry club, Sasha has won several regional and national short story awards including the National Scholastic Writing Gold Medal in 2015 for her novel, “When the Moon Isn’t Watching,” and a National Silver Award in the 2016 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for the poem, “Boxes”.
She has played tennis since picking up the racket as a seven-year-old and has competed for the BlueJackets varsity team for four consecutive seasons. She also is capable of playing Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven on the piano, an instrument she mastered around the same time she began learning tennis.
Her reading list over the years has evolved from the “fun stuff like ‘Junie B. Jones’” to tackling the entire “Harry Potter” series (three times) to taking on some “light reading” of Kurt Vonnegut to developing thoughts about oncology due to her discovery of the New York Times’ best-selling book “The Emperor of All Maladies,” a powerful history of cancer and its treatment that won the Pulitzer Prize. She is also a fan of the medical television drama, “House,” and she appreciates movies that “make you think,” like the recent 2014 Oscar-winning film, “Imitation Game.”
But anyone who knows Sasha will tell you that she is more than simply the sum of her accomplishments. Rather than to just accumulate honors to build a resume, Sasha uses her compassion for life and her intellect to help others.
Her role as a volunteer at the Freedom Square Continuing Care Retirement Community in Seminole stemmed from growing up with a mother — Dr. Swanthri DeSilva, a Rheumatologist and Allergist — who would “bring home medical journals all the time and discuss the nature of medicine with me.” Her charitable experiences have also taken her Sri Lanka, the birthplace of her parents, to create and lead a community service project to assist local doctors and hospitals.
Sasha will attend Johns Hopkins University on an academic scholarship.
“I’ve grown up with medicine in my life and I want to become an oncologist,” said Sasha. “This is where my love of reading and medicine can merge. It’s an interesting field and it’s an area where you can keep learning about new developments. I like the idea of intellectual medicine and investigative medicine. It’s so unknown. Nothing has ever been proven to be true. Being able to make changes that could affect the nature of medicine and ultimately the world is exciting to me.“
She intends on continuing her journey as a creative writer, though.
“My favorite part about going to school at Farragut has been developing my passion for writing,” said Sasha. “Of course, I have appreciated the discipline that this school instills but the knowledge I gained about writing and how incredible it is stems from taking English with Mrs. (Heather) Ewing for three years, in the eighth grade, the ninth grade and my senior year.”
Mrs. Ewing can attest to her ability as a writer, as well.
“She has so much natural ability that the last story she wrote, I said, ‘I don’t even know what to suggest, it’s so good. You’ve exceeded my ability to give you constructive criticism.’ That’s how talented she is. She is right now a better writer than many published adults you would read.”