MVHS hosts ‘All Grown-Up and Working’ alumni panel


Bill Cheng and Gauri Kaushik

On Thursday, April 12, students and parents filled the auditorium to hear from a panel of MVHS alumni about life after high school. The event, which was brought to MVHS by the Cupertino Chamber of Commerce and Cupertino Library Foundation, provided an opportunity to learn more about life after high school.

The three panelists and moderator were all MVHS alumni who had graduated college and are currently in the workforce. They discussed their own high school and college experiences, and also gave advice to current students about having fun in high school and networking in college.

One of the alumni said, “A lot of growing up is trial and error,” and in accordance, the panelists covered topics ranging from what they wish they had done in high school to switching majors in college.

College and career advisor McKenna Parfet believes that this opportunity is important for students to get an idea of what college and life after college is like.

“I think there are definitely certain ideas [about] what college can be like and what success looks like, and I think it’s important to get a wide view of what that could look like,” Parfet said. “And it’s especially important from former [MVHS] people because students are able to really relate to alum that also have been through the [MVHS] process here.”

Parfet, who organizes the career nights that allow students to explore different careers, and her fellow coordinators in the PTSA were first approached by members of the Cupertino Library Foundation about doing an alumni panel. They decided to make it similar to a career night and held it in the MVHS auditorium rather than in the Quinlan Community Center.

“I think it’d be excellent for all high schools to have an event like this,” Parfet said. “I definitely think it’s important for students to see what the future can look like and the different paths that are available to them, and I think it’s just an easy way for students to really see that connection when someone was in their shoes.”

For the panelists, the night also offered the chance to revisit their former high school and the memories that came along with it. Panelist and alumnus Aditya Desai, who graduated from MVHS in 2012, discussed how his time at MVHS impacted his later life.

“[My time at MVHS was] some of the best years of my life, honestly,” Desai said.

Desai admits that at certain points in high school, he felt like the academic pressures were more than he thought he could handles. Yet, as he reiterated in the panel, he now believes MVHS is well equipped to educate students as it employs “some of the best teachers in the country.”

“The relationships that you make, the teachers that you have,” Desai said. “Those are just phenomenal.”

During the panel, Desai described his experiences with what he called his “tiger parents.” The audience laughed as no one raised their hand when moderator Rahul Varshneya asked if anyone was unfamiliar with the definition of a tiger parent. As the son of one of the coordinators at the Library Foundation, Varshneya, who graduated from MVHS with the class of 2007, was in charge of asking questions to facilitate the discussion. In terms of networking and building relationships, his own advice to current students is also in line with those of the panelists.

“I think you always, at every point in your life, no matter how smart or how well informed you may be about something or not […] it’s very important to continue to seek out other people’s points of view and perspectives,” Varshneya said.

Although the topics that were covered were left up to Varshneya and questions from the audience, Parfet was extremely happy with everything the panel managed to convey. She feels the topics that the panel covered are ideas that the guidance team at MVHS has been trying to get across to students, such as trying not to take on a heavy workload, decreasing stress regarding college applications and college decisions and placing emphasis on networking and experience. The biggest piece of advice, according to both Parfet and the panelists, is to enjoy the four years of high school.

“Those things we’ve definitely been trying to get across but it only comes so far from people that they see every day, who work here,” Parfet said. “So it’s good for everyone to hear the message from another set of people.”

In terms of the possibility of holding similar events in the future, Parfet believes that the panels offer students an important and beneficial opportunity, and she would love to have MVHS hold more events like this one.

“I look forward to having future events like this at [MVHS],” Parfet said. “I look forward to bringing back more [MVHS] alum, if that’s what you all want.”