For the past two years, Saturday mornings for Sasha DeSilva have been filled with visits to Freedom Square Continuing Care Retirement Community in Seminole. Her role as a volunteer has allowed her to interact with elderly people who have given her lifelong lessons.
Sasha describes “this one lady in her nineties who has an impressive academic resume and taught as a professor at Columbia University who said the one thing that keeps her going in life is reflecting on her accomplishments. She encouraged me to make the most of my younger years because those will ultimately define your legacy.”
Thus, Sasha, who is currently working with a St. Petersburg College professor on research for a microbiological project, has mapped out a plan to become an academic oncologist where she can combine her love of writing with her passion for medicine. The antithesis of this focus stemmed from 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.
Sasha, who has won several regional and national short story awards including the Scholastic Writing Gold Medal in 2015, credits her development as a writer to Mrs. Heather Ewing, who has taught Upper School English since arriving at Farragut in 2008.
“I have learned an incredible amount from the impressive faculty at Farragut, but Mrs. Ewing has guided me the most in regard to my writing,” said Sasha, who has maintained a 4.0 GPA while taking Advanced Placement classes since 10th grade. “Farragut as a whole, though, has prepared me for the next stage in life because of the structure. It also has helped me see the world from a global perspective because of the diverse student body. Meeting and becoming friends with people from all over the world has given me a perspective I would never have received anywhere else.”
Sasha, who is co-captain of the varsity tennis team, also has benefited from the many different leadership opportunities at Farragut, participating in the Student Advisory Committee, Teen Science Cafe, the National Honor Society and the Spanish National Honor Society. In addition, Sasha, who is a finalist for the National Merit Scholarship, created and led a community service project during the summer of 2015 in her home country of Sri Lanka.
“Above all, Farragut builds your confidence as a leader and helps you realize you can accomplish anything you envision,” said Sasha, who was selected along with Melissa Brizzi ‘15 as two of 20 finalists out of 150 applicants for the Junior Sungoddess (JSG) Leadership Program finals held in St. Petersburg last year.
Sasha hopes to attend Brown University — “my dream school.” Other schools high on her interest list include UC Berkeley and the University of Florida.