Taking small steps for big rewards
WAUSAU Aaditi Naik loves tackling big educational projects.

“I like planning for the long term, micromanaging and setting small goals,” said the 17-year-old senior at Wausau West High School. “It means just focusing and never let up on that focus.”

That skill set — the ability to chunk large ambitions into a series of small, attainable steps — has served her well. Aaditi has earned a 4.0 grade point average and scored a 35 on the ACT college entrance exam, one point shy of the highest possible score of 36. She’s the president of the Key Club, a service organization. She’s an editor of the Wausau West yearbook.
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Aaditi Naik

Age: 17
Residence: Rib Mountain
School: Wausau West High School
Parents: Dr. Guruprasad and Yashuda Naik
College Plans: To be determined.
Hobbies: Playing the piano and violin, reading, volunteering, working on her school’s yearbook and playing tennis.

As of early March, Aaditi wasn’t quite sure where she will attend college or what career she’ll pursue in the long run. She knows the big goals, though. She wants to go to graduate school. She wants to do research. And she wants to make a difference in the world.

She has applied to a number of colleges, such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and the University of Chicago. But she’s still awaiting word about whether she has been accepted to other colleges, and when she knows, she’ll make her choice based on the programs the school offers, scholarships and other factors.

“Sometimes I get a little stressed, knowing that a lot of my friends know where they’re going. I’ll ask myself, ‘Why don’t I know?’ But then I tell myself that a lot of this is out of my hands, and I’ll make the decision when the time comes. I know I’ll have to have a decision by May 1.”

As for the research, Aaditi is considering delving into several fields — genetics, medicine and the environment. She’s not quite ready to narrow her choices.
She will plan the specific steps toward her larger goal as she enrolls in college and begins to explore the possibilities.

Wausau West High School Principal Jeb Steckbauer said Aaditi already is well on her way to making the world a better place. She certainly left a positive mark on the high school.

“Aaditi is someone with exceptional academic qualities, but her best qualities aren’t about academics,” Steckbauer said. “Her best qualities shine in the way she cares about her fellow students, her pleasant personality and her willingness to give of her time to help others.”

Under it all is a self-sustaining, day-to-day motivation and an understanding that the small steps add up.

“I motivate myself to do my best,” she said.

That’s why she points to last spring as a highlight of her academic career. As one of the editors of the Wausau West yearbook, she was able to hold in her hands the book she worked so hard through the school year to make great.

Additi’s strategy in helping produce the yearbook matched her overall philosophy: “Keep moving forward. Work hard a little bit every day.”

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