Meribell Varghese is a proprietor of positivity in her day-to-day human connections


Meribell Varghese

Meribell Varghese plans to go into international relations or international business after high school

When senior Meribell Varghese applied to Culvers, it was just a joke. She didn’t expect to be offered the job on the spot, and she didn’t expect for it to end up becoming her “thing.” 

But since accepting the position, she’s hardly looked back, and what began as a joke became a vessel for important growth. In every way that her job has required a lot from her, it’s returned the same in lessons. And, of course, it’s given her a fun social trademark. 

“I work at Culvers,” Meribell said, “which everybody knows, which I think is kind of funny because everybody will come in, and it’s a very popular spot. At first it was kind of weird because I was like, ‘Gosh, everybody comes here, and this is going to be embarrassing.’ But it kind of turned into my own little thing because now, when people come in, they’ll make sure to say hi to me, and it’s not weird anymore.”

Meribell’s embrace of this social connection spiced up the supposed mundanity of a part-time job, and it’s emblematic of a theme that extends its roots through the vast field of her life. 

From track to student council to the environmental club to NHS, Meribell has left few realms of high school unexplored, and at every turn, she’s shown a desire to make connections by believing the best about people and always being willing to offer a second chance. 

“When I walk in the hallway, I say hi to everybody because I know a lot of people,” Meribell said. “My friends notice that and [ask], ‘Why do you know everybody?’ or ‘How do you know everybody?’ And I don’t know; I don’t like to exclude people. As cliche as this is, you never know what they’re going through at home. If a smile can make them happy, then I’m all for it. I think it’s helped me build a lot of connections. I know a lot of juniors and sophomores, and I like to hang out with everybody instead of one friend group.”

Meribell truly believes that the positive energy she radiates will make its way back to her, and from being nominated for Winterfest Queen to being asked to judge FHC’s Got Talent show, she’s been proven right time and time again. 

In a variety of ways, the human connections that Meribell makes every day are invaluable to her, but above all else, she’s been raised to prioritize her family—the humans that have always been there for her and always will be. 

“[My mom] has always [imparted on] us that family is what’s important,” Meribell said, “and [that], at the end of the day, even if your friends leave you, your family will be there for you. So she’s always made sure our structure is stuck on family…I think that’s definitely made me a homebody person because where my mom is, I feel like I’m home.”

Specifically, Meribell’s relationship with her mom stands apart—a fact that has been true for as long she can remember, dating back to childhood memories of not wanting to leave her mom’s side to get on the school bus.

Now, that bond between the two of them has manifested itself in unique hobbies that Meribell is glad to share with her mom. Within the last few years, long hikes in the woods have evolved into a point of connection between Meribell and her mom. 

“I think we started doing it when the pandemic hit,” Meribell said, “because everybody started walking outside, and we picked up on it. We started going to one park, and then we started driving an hour away and finding another park, and then [it] started becoming this thing where we’d try new parks specific for hiking. Sometimes we talk, sometimes it’s just silence, but it’s kind of nice because it’s something we share.”

Beyond a deeply-rooted love for her family and a particular affinity for long hikes, Meribell has also inherited her mother’s culture from her. Because her mother is originally from India, Meribell has been raised immersed in both Indian and American culture, an experience she’s extremely grateful for.

“Obviously, I was born here, in Troy, Michigan,” Meribell said, “but I feel like having a mom that wasn’t born in America was really helpful, [and] it opened my eyes. It allows me to travel to India; she’s taught me this new language, and I feel like it’s opened my eyes to accepting and allowing new cultures because I am part of another culture and the language has helped me appreciate another culture.”

This deep appreciation for other cultures is only one of a multitude of reasons that Meribell plans on pursuing international relations or international business in college. With a proficient understanding of both her mother’s Malayalam and the French she’s been learning since elementary school, she believes she’s on track to someday explore the intricate connections that make up the world. 

And because of the human connections—between both her family and her closest friends—that Meribell has prioritized her whole life, she has a well-developed understanding of what home means to her, and she considers herself a homebody, so she hopes to pursue her international relations dreams at Michigan State University—a school that offers both the close proximity to home and some familiar faces. 

As Meribell balances being a friendly face to everyone she sees against maintaining unbreakable bonds with the few people that matter most to her, she is a proprietor of positivity and empathy above all else.

“It’s important to keep the people that you care a lot about close,” Meribell said, “and it’s okay and normal to only have a few people around you. You don’t need a bunch of people. What I carry with me every day is [to] reach out to the people I care about every day—keep them close by you and let them know you’ll be there. I truly believe if you have good actions, if you act out on good actions, it’ll come back to you, and I think I’ve seen that a lot this year with everything that I’ve had the opportunity to do.”