Iswari Natarajan, High School Principal

Growing up in a very modest family in India, among other things, dreaming big was a luxury I never thought I could afford. The courage to dream big was the biggest gift my parents indulged me with. As I stumbled my way through many obstacles, my father’s mantra of always dreaming big, working hard, and letting go, became the GPS of my life. These words of wisdom are what I’d like to share with the high school girls:

·      DREAMING BIG: Most often, girls don’t pursue their dreams because they are held captive by the fear of failure. In their pursuit of perfection they refrain from taking risks due to the deep-seated fear of rejection. I believe the journey to dreaming big starts with embracing failure, past fear, through rejection, and all the way to empowered courage. Challenging our girls to be risk-takers, encouraging them to face rejection, and inspiring them to dream big is more relevant than ever before.

·      WORKING HARD: The combination of passion, purpose, and perseverance are essential in the journey of dreaming big. The grit to work hard, the resilience to face setbacks, and the tenacity to keep moving forward are far stronger predictors of success than talent, aptitude, or IQ. There is no substitute for a strong work ethic.

·      LETTING GO: This one is the hardest of the three. Once you have dreamt big, worked really hard, and things don’t turn out the way you had hoped, it is important to let go and be at peace. It is always about the journey and not the destination. Happiness doesn’t lie in the memories of the past or the promises of the future. Happiness lies in the present – it lives in the here and now!

As this school year unfolds, I feel like a mama bird with 251 nestlings, each of them ready to spread their wings and take flight. All I want to say to them is a line from my favorite poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Soar, eat ether, see what has never been seen; depart, be lost, but climb.”