BY MOLLY CONGDON
CLIFTON PARK — Salutatorian Nadia Suguitan stood before her classmates at SPAC and gave a speech both entertaining and instructive.
“I’m here to tell you to do three things: Set fires, fight and take the shot. Parents please don’t panic, let me explain. When I say start fires, I’m encouraging you to discover new passions and feed the flames of the ones you already have; a fire can be intimidating but if you allow yourself to embrace this potential, then you can use your power to affect change. I want you to fight for what you believe in and for those who can’t fight for themselves. . . . And based on my calculations that Wayne Gretzky was right, you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take; risk, success and failure are all wrapped up in the same package.”
It was her moment to have a one-on-one conversation with Shenendehowa’s Class of 2015. “I just had a great time,” Suguitan said. “I almost cried when some of my friends walked across the stage; being able to be there for that was really special. ”
Throughout her time at Shenendehowa, she participated in many extracurricular activities including the math team, National Honor Society and the forensics club; she was treasurer for all three. She was also a star player on the tennis team, the sport she’d been playing since eighth grade. This year Suguitan was voted most honored player, and also became the all-time leading scorer with the most wins in girls singles in school history.
“My grandparents were interested in it, so they kind of showed me the ropes a little and then I took lessons,” she said. “I tried all sorts of different sports but tennis is the one that stuck.”
In addition to all of this, she also has played piano since she was little.
In the fall, Suguitan will be attending the SUNY Polytechnic Institute Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. “The name is such a mouthful,” she said with a laugh.
Even though she doesn’t have to decide on a specific major until the end of her sophomore year, she’s almost positive what it’s going to be: nanoscale engineering.
“It’s such a new industry,” Suguitan said. “Honestly, that’s what drew me to it initially, and want to stay there, was that everything is so cutting-edge in nanoscale because it’s so new.”
She cannot wait for the next phase of her life to begin. “I’m looking forward to meeting new people; I mean, I love my friends and it’s been great growing up in Clifton Park from kindergarten until now, but it’s going to be nice — and I know I’m only a half hour away — but it will be nice to meet new people at a school that’s smaller than Shen,” Suguitan said. “It will be interesting getting that smaller-school experience.”
‘In charge of ourselves’
Her time at Shenendehowa armed her with the tool of self-motivation. “I think the way that Shen teaches, the teachers that they have really prepare you for being on your own and learning on your own — they were always there to help you but the students really had to push themselves to learn as much as they wanted to learn,” Suguitan said. “So we were in charge of ourselves. If you wanted to thrive in school, you had to go above and beyond.”
She was born in Texas but her family moved to Clifton Park when she was 3 years old. Her father, Norman, is an engineer at General Electric and her mother, Genevieve, is a real estate agent. She has three siblings, one older and two younger. Her brother Logan, 19, attends the college in which Suguitan is now enrolled. Then there is Donovan, who is going into his junior year of high school, and Cassidy — the youngest.
Suguitan already has a road map for the future, after SUNY-Poly. “I’m hoping to do a master’s degree at an accredited school,” Suguitan said. “At least, that’s the plan.”
for Nadia Suguitan
Q: What is the number one thing on your bucket list?
A: Travel to all seven continents.
Q: What is your most anticipated read of the summer?
A: The “Game of Thrones” series. I love the show!
Q: What’s your least favorite food?
A: My least favorite is also my most favorite — chocolate. I love it so much but it’s addicting.
Q: What or who inspires you the most?
A: The people that I pull the most inspiration from is my family, but the most inspirational person that’s not within my reach is Nelson Mandela.
Q: What is your greatest fear?
A: Being forgotten or too scared to do something but . . . um . . . it might be talking on the phone.
Q: What is your favorite color?
Q: What are you most looking forward to this summer?
A: Traveling — going to Canada to visit some family and doing little road trips with my friends.