Senior Isabel Varghese prepares for her future through research and public speaking


Every high school student wishes they had more free time. But for senior Isabel Varghese, she craves the dedication involved in having a full schedule. Between Debate, Forensics, volunteering, and personal research, she is always bouncing from one activity to the next.

“I don’t view them as commitments, I just like doing them,” Isabel said. “I wish I had more stuff to do.”

While she is very involved now, Isabel didn’t always have these opportunities. From second grade to the beginning of freshman year, she attended school in India. While it was a difficult transition at first, she is very grateful for her high school experience now.

“[The transition to high school in the US] was understanding the difference in culture and doing a lot of reading up on how systems are different here,” Isabel said.

Isabel did not get involved in extracurriculars until her sophomore year. She joined the school’s Science Olympiad, Debate, and Forensics teams. While both Debate and Forensics are centered around different forms of public speaking, Debate is focused on policy discussion. While she only participated in Science Olympiad during her sophomore year, she found a love for public speaking and continued her commitment to Debate and Forensics.

The past three years, Isabel has found success in both Forensics and Debate. For debate, Isabel and her team won the Metro League her sophomore year. In Forensics, Isabel made it to the state semifinals last year. Aside from having accomplishments in both, Isabel has learned a great deal from both of these clubs.

“It’s definitely made me more confident,” Isabel said. “In terms of Debate, it has taught me to examine my resources and do my own research so I can have my own opinion and have that ability to speak eloquently.”

Another great opportunity for Isabel blossomed this summer. Through the Scientific Research Program at FHC, she was able to conduct research with professors at MSU. After being connected with a professor with the help of science teacher Kristy Butler, Isabel conducted research on stem cells in Zebrafish. This was no small commitment. For five days a week, Isabel was trusted with breading the fish and collecting data. Transitioning from a high school environment to a college campus an hour away was a difficult challenge.

“The hardest part for me was waking up every morning and driving to MSU for an hour,” Isabel said. “At first, it was really nerve-wracking. The fish would jump out and you would have to catch them. I had to euthanize fish for the first time, and that was really scary; I’m terrified of killing things and I still am. It took awhile to get used to it.”

After adjusting to this new schedule, she enjoyed her routine in the lab. Isabel credits this research with helping her prepare for her future.

“My research has definitely helped me hone in on career choices,” Isabel said. “I liked the structure way of doing things, and I also liked the smallness of the lab. It was nice to work with people you need.”

Aside from academics, Isabel also works as a regular volunteer at her church and the Cascade Library. At the church, she loves to work with special needs children. Isabel believes that it is important to sacrifice your time and go out of your way to help others.

“I’m super introverted, and I don’t do anything like dancing, Isabel said, “This boy came up to me and said, “I want to play Just Dance with To look outside of yourself and realize that even though you’re not comfortable, it’s ok to walk outside of your comfort zone and break those boundaries that you’ve set for yourself [in order] to make others happy.”

Since freshman year, Isabel has seen a great amount of growth. After being a more introverted freshman, she has seen herself growth with the help of the people around her.

“I’m more happy about interacting with people and learning that everyone has their own story and its about how you can impact other people stories with your own,” Isabel said.