“Manny” Burdekar with Oxford High Instructor Patty Ross
Text and photo by Steev Riccardo
Manjushree Burdekar has been through a lot in seventeen years, and she is using her real life experiences to help herself and to help others.
When she was ten years old, she and her brother Manjuanth came to Oxford to join their parents, Yoganand and Laxmi, who had moved here several months ahead of them to find a home and settle down.
It wasn’t an easy adjustment for Manjushree, but at the same time it was a move that she embraced. “It was different, two different worlds, different cultures, different family values, different backgrounds, but at the same time it was something that I looked forward to.”
She did at the time-- and still does miss her extended family but has gone back to her native country on multiple occasions. “I will never forget my background because that is one thing I look for in everyone. I think everyone should get to know someone and where they are from, how they live their life, whether they are born in India or born in the United States.”
Even though she is not an athlete, she earned a nickname from one of those few times she did play sports at Oxford Middle School. One of her coaches started calling her “Manny” after former Boston Red Sox player Manny Ramirez, a moniker that has stuck with her over the years.
Once enrolled at Oxford High School, Manny became involved in many activities. “When I started high school, I wanted to experience anything and everything I could possibly experience, so I joined Student Council my freshman year.” She soon was elected vice president and still holds that title four years later.
She also became the parliamentarian of the National Honor Society at the end of her sophomore year and has been involved with NHS ever since. One NHS project very important to her was Operation Care Package. The group put together care packages for soldiers and packed them up and shipped them overseas.
Manny is also a member of The 84 Club, a club that does not smoke which helped to ban tobacco sales from pharmacies in Oxford. There are roughly 15 students at Oxford High School who are members of the club.
This year she became the co-editor of school yearbook staff and has also volunteered at Reliant Medical Group and the Oxford Public Library when not in school.
Things were going along rather smoothly when her life took a sudden and unexpected turn last year. Her father became very ill and after “seven grueling months” lost a battle with cancer at the young age of 48.
“It was very difficult, I was a Daddy’s girl. My mom has been the rock since my dad died. She went through more than I have; this is why family is the biggest thing in your life. Without family, you cannot define an individual.”
“My parents have been my role models since I was young. They have worked so hard. I don’t have words to describe the love and motivation that I have received from them. They have always been by my side.”
This horrible tragedy helped her make a decision on what she would do when she finished high school and furthered her education. “I have always been interested in science, but last year when my Dad became very ill, that was the icing on my decision to go to pre-med.”
Oxford High School Principal Kevin Wells has much praise for the soon-to-be departing senior. “Manny is probably one of the greatest leaders that we have at Oxford High School. She walks softly and always carries a big stick. She always has a smile on her face, she is one of our top academic students here, and she is exceptionally involved in many programs at the school. She is a leader in our Student Council. She is involved in our Best Buddies program, Special Olympics. She is a great power of example for young women, and I am so proud to have had her as a student here.”
Manny, who has maintained a 4.0 grade average, has many options for school, having been accepted at numerous institutions. Once she completes pre-med, she will either get a Masters Degree or attend medical school.
It will be hard for her to leave Oxford at the end of the year. “I have made several friends who are like family to me here. It’s going to be difficult to leave because I have pretty much found myself in high school. I came out of my shell, and I have learned a lot from Mr. Wells and from all my teachers here. I will definitely take all the things that I have learned here to the next chapter in my life.”
- Sunday, 15 April 2012
- Posted in Categories: : News