By Alana Modi
Jordan Kalinsky, Valedictorian of the class of 2021 had a unique high school experience and has some of the most insightful pieces of advice to share with future graduates.
Jordan, like many of us, was devoured by the pressures of being a perfect high school graduate, forcing herself to take certain classes and keep a certain GPA. She was consumed by the picture she wanted to paint by the end of the 4 years and it was the guidance of a few teachers that allowed her to understand her true passions, ones that were only unlocked when she ventured into the unknown and took chances.
It was freshman year and 14 year old Jordan was intrigued by the impact of words on a clean slate of paper. Mr. Brocato guided Jordan in the direction she wanted to go in, taking his unique stories to another level, where only she was able to understand the impacts. This was the first time Jordan was able to understand her true love for writing, constantly creating pieces for her portfolio and it was this year that allowed her to explore a subject area she was never given access to before. Along with English, Jordan was forced to take a leap of faith, being put in Mrs. Champagne’s web design class, unlocking another untouched passion that broiled within her. She took the lessons and ideas of the two classes with her and created a path for herself for the future where she only focused on what made her happy, a life where she felt content everyday.
She was stressed throughout 9th grade, even going as far as planning out the AP’s she planned to take as an upperclassman and deciding what clubs she wanted to take over, and all of this planning was something she said was never worth it. Many times you just need to let life take its course because it will lead you in the right direction as long as your options are kept open. Jordan went from stressing to finally enjoying the high school experience in 11th grade and not following the conventional route. She developed a healthy relationship with work through the help of peers and mentors and that made all the difference.
During 11th grade Jordan found that there wasn’t anything she really wanted to further accomplish at the high school and made the choice to transfer to URI for her senior year. She took a teacher’s recommendation with her, but it was this teacher who was filled with uncertainty, believing that Jordan didn’t have it in her to succeed in this next chapter. While Jordan took this advice and slept on it, looking at the words with different perspectives, she had made the decision to do whatever she felt was right and could help her with the life she wanted to live.
While Jordan Kalinsky is certainly not a senior you may have seen walking through the school this year, she was once there walking through the same doors as us, but it has been her dreams and passions that have guided her to a path she is excited to take, one that is drastically unique from our own. She has found college to be very different from high school in positive and negative ways. She has gotten more sleep than she ever did in high school and she now finally has so much freedom that comes with a load bearing wall of responsibilities. Jordan will be attending a college in New York next semester, majoring in journalism and web design, becoming an expert on her true desires in life.
Some of Jordan’s most prominent advice for high schoolers is, “do what you want to do, because it is your life.” She also mentioned how as students we feel pressure to “fit into a perfect mold” yet there is no mold unless we create our own that is influenced by our desires in life. She has been most successful when doing her own thing and following her heart in life.
“You don’t always need to follow the formula. There are multiple ways to get where you want to go,” were her words that still echo in my head everyday, and should be considered by each of us.
She was someone who took risks on assignments, going a little off the prompt to write something that truly expressed her and created something that she was proud of, not writing for the teacher. It was her passions that have driven her and have caused her to do the early enrollment program at URI, focusing her attention to what she believes in and enjoys. Jordan Kalisky is not your average valedictorian, but one of the most inspirational people nevertheless with an unbelievable and relatable story.