The valedictorian of the MacArthur High School Class of 2020 is Aishi Guha. Aishi plans to study physics and mathematics at the University of Texas at Austin and pursue a career in physics. Get to know Aishi in the Q&A below. 


What all were you involved in in high school (sports, student organizations, volunteering, community service, etc.)?

I participated in UIL Science, Number Sense, and Computer Science. I am the captain of our varsity tennis team and an officer of STEAM club SkillsUSA, and chess club. For SkillsUSA, I am one of three members of a nationally-medalled Engineering Technology team. I have volunteered at Baylor Scott and White, the Perot Museum and the West Irving Library. I am also an AP Art student, and I have participated in MacArthur’s annual theatre competition for three years. Outside of school, I have been learning and performing dance since I was 5. My main dance styles include Indian classical, bollywood and hip-hop; however, I have delved into ballet and modern dance and continue to grow my repertoire. 


What advice would you give your freshman self?

I would tell her to stop being so anxious about grades, ranks and test scores. Ultimately what matters is how you improve yourself and the fact that you are passionate about everything you do. And if you’re worried about how to impact your community, just pick the things you love and get so good at them that you can help your community by doing those things. I would also tell her to believe in herself and stay confident, and realize that if things don’t go according to plan then that’s what life is. It’s easy to get disheartened, which is why it’s important to have an optimistic but detached mindset. Go with the flow essentially. Also, take time to reflect on things more, especially your life and your voice. Finally, I would tell her to stretch more and that Post-it notes are actually pretty useful. 


Who is your hero?

This has to be my parents, no? My mother has sacrificed a lot just for me to have an education here, and my father has worked very hard for a very long time for the well-being of our family. I haven’t really done much as a daughter yet to pay them back, but I am very grateful for their unconditional love. I’m very lucky to have them, and look to them for guidance on values such as an immense respect for education, a dedicated pursuit of a wide variety of passions and a connection to cultural roots. 


What are your career goals?

I have wanted to pursue a career in physics since the sixth grade, when I read through a whole chemistry book and realized that the sections I found really interesting were actually physics. The more I have learned about physics through classes, books, online resources and talking to people in the field, I have realized a research career in physics is all I want. I am going to major in physics and probably double major in mathematics. After my undergraduate studies, I am aiming for a PhD in graduate school. At the moment I am leaning toward research in theoretical particle physics. However, I know my interests can change, so deciding on a specific subfield will be up to “future me.” 

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The salutatorian for the MacArthur High School Class of 2020 is Jorge Tomaylla-Eme. Jorge is headed to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he will study aerospace engineering with a minor in computer science. Get to know Jorge in the Q&A below. 


What all were you involved in in high school (sports, student organizations, volunteering, community service, etc.)?

I have been an integral part of the following organizations, high school and community events:

  • UIL Number Sense Team Leader
  • UIL Science
  • UIL Computer Science
  • Varsity Swimming/ Water Polo
  • M5 Rock/Pop Band – Lead guitar 10th-12th
  • Alternative Music Ensemble Department President
  • STEAM Club
  • SkillsUSA
  • Reading Club 
  • Music Youth Ministry (Guitarist and singer at St. Luke’s Catholic Church)
  • National Honor Society 
  • Technical National Honor Society
  • 108 hours of volunteering as a catechist assistant in Confirmation classes and as a children supervisor in Cub Scout camps


What advice would you give your freshman self?

If I had the chance to indirectly talk to my freshman self, I would tell him that everything is OK, that everything will work out fine. I know he is terrified and overwhelmed by starting high school in a foreign country, with a language barrier difficult to overcome, with no friends and no close relatives. However, all he has to do is let the frustration and nostalgia out and give – like he has always done before – 100 percent into school, into learning, into studying. People will realize how special you are in time and will approach you for your friendship. I know you feel alone now, but in a couple of years that feeling will disappear and be replaced for the joy of new friendships, love and a myriad of accomplishments.


What is your favorite subject?

That’s a tough one. I am really passionate about physics, calculus and computer science. Though I am more advanced in the former two subjects, computer science was one of my favorite subjects this year because it was a totally new concept I had never been exposed to before. Programming proved so much fun and challenging that I intend to further my computer science knowledge at MIT. I am sure that the problem-solving skills I have and will continue learning from this subject will be valuable to my development as an aerospace engineer.


Who was your most impactful teacher?

One of my most memorable teachers has been Mr. Tillerson. Ever since I joined UIL Number Sense, Mr. Tillerson was very supportive of me and had faith that I could grow even further. When I joined his class junior year, I realized how much more fun he was in an actual classroom setting. I feel very fortunate to have had Mr. Tillerson as my calculus teacher for two years and mentor for four. His way of teaching is outstanding, and I have laughed and learned so much in his class. He demonstrates that education can be fun and instructive simultaneously.


Who is your hero?

My hero is my mother. Though she grew up in the most precarious circumstances and struggling economical situations, she worked endless hours to provide me with the things she did not enjoy as a child. Though as a single mother she could not give me the expensive toys that my friends had, she gave me unconditional love and taught me to value the smallest things and to be grateful for any blessing we receive. My mom also instilled in me her outstanding work ethic reflected in her timeless motto, “If you do something, do an extraordinary job or don’t do it at all.” She is the main reason I developed a self-taught nature and interest in academics, always striving to be the best and surpass my limits. She is the reason why I was able to overcome the challenge of moving to the United States. She is the reason I am going to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Thank you, Mom, for everything you have done for me! I hope to contribute to the world and my family during my professional career.