Graduation: From present challenges, foundation of future success
by Bob Brownne / Tracy Press
May 31, 2012 | 2653 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
West High School 2012 valedictorian Manjap Singh will attend  University of California, Berkeley, in the fall to begin his mechanical engineering studies.   Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
West High School 2012 valedictorian Manjap Singh will attend University of California, Berkeley, in the fall to begin his mechanical engineering studies. Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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In his four years at West High, Class of 2012 valedictorian Manjap Singh has combined hard work with an eye on the future to find his opportunities.

“You have to look ahead — 10, 20 years from now. You have to think that far ahead,” he said. “You work hard and study hard, and you get certain privileges. You have to look at the long term. That’s what’s going to count.”

So while he thinks about all of the times he immersed himself in his studies to the exclusion of hanging out with friends, he also reminds himself that this is how he keeps his higher-education goals in reach.

As he graduates with a 4.4 GPA, Singh can look upon the range of possibilities he will find at University of California, Berkeley, in the fall, when he begins mechanical engineering studies.

His grades were good enough to qualify him for academic scholarships at UCLA, UC Davis, UC San Diego and Stanford University, but the Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship at UC Berkeley was the best package — including financial aid, academic opportunities and the prestige of Berkeley’s exclusive undergraduate award — that any of them offered.

Singh figures his educational experience so far has prepared him for the leap into university life. Along the way, Singh identified three principles that enable him to meet new challenges.

He starts with faith, including faith that he’s on the right path toward reaching his goals. Next is hard work, which includes the effort and determination to pursue difficult objectives. Third is consistency, and knowing that the level of dedication that got him this far will take him to the next level.

“You mix them together and that will get you success,” he said.

He was one of the first students to attend Wicklund School in Mountain House as a fifth-grader during the 2004-05 school year.

“Everyone is new, so everyone is friendly and trying to get to know everyone. It’s a welcoming environment,” he said.

Rather than be intimidated by the change from close-knit Wicklund School to the much larger campus at West, Singh was impressed with the variety he found.

“I met a lot of new people, because you have six classes and a ton of new faces,” he said.

His older brother, Japnam Singh, helped him make the adjustment, and starting with his freshman year, he dove right into campus life.

Singh joined California Scholarship Federation in his freshman year, played tennis for two years and went on to become West’s CSF vice president his junior year and CSF president his senior year.

Above all, he was inspired by the chance to take college-level science and mathematics courses. His sophomore year, he signed up for his first Advanced Placement class:

computer science with teacher Charles Lunetta.

The next year, he took AP psychology, U.S. history and English, and in his senior year, he took human geography, physics and mechanics, English literature, statistics and U.S. government and politics. He counts calculus with teacher Perry Farrins among the classes he enjoyed most.

“It’s a lot of classes, but it’s worth it. It provides you with a lot of experience with what you will be doing in college,” he said, adding that West’s AP teachers prepared him well for Berkeley’s engineering program.

“They’ve really challenged themselves to learn the subjects and to teach it back to us,” he said. “I think that’s awesome, and I’m really thankful for that.”

Singh is the son of Amarjit Kaur and Rajinder Singh Chauhan.

West High School will begin commencement ceremonies at 8:30 a.m. in Steve Lopez Stadium. Tickets, which have been given to each graduating senior, are required to attend.
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