I had this mentality of saying yes to trying new things. Pingry is a place that allows its students to create something much bigger than yourself.”
Meet Mirika Jambudi '23
Mirika Jambudi ’23 is getting ready for college. She is packing her bags, saying her goodbyes, and tying up loose ends. Harvard bound, and bound to make an impact, Mirika is nonetheless in a reflective mood. She’s part of the Pingry alumni community now, and she is getting ready to experience the wider world. “It’s bittersweet,” she says. “I’m excited for what comes next. I’m excited to meet new people, to hear new perspectives—to see more.” At this, she pauses, a wistful look on her face. “It’s also sad because I’m leaving my friends and teachers and the familiarity of Pingry.”
Amidst the endless packing of take-this-not-that items, Mirika came across something that sent her down memory lane. “I found my Admitted Students Day schedule sheet,” she says. “And I thought, ‘Wow, I’ve grown a lot.’” Insisting that she wasn’t initially shy but rather “pretty timid”, Mirika thought back to the moment she became a Pingry student. “I can still remember that first day of school and being really nervous about what to expect.”
That was the beginning of her freshman year, and she had it all planned out. She was a runner in middle school, so she was determined to join the cross country team at Pingry. She would start there, meeting people and making friends along the way. And then, life threw a wrench in her carefully laid-out plans. She suffered a stress fracture.
Timid, and in a new school. What now?
Mirika Jambudi decided to pivot.
She never performed onstage before, but she noticed the Fall Play auditions were being held in three days. “I decided, ‘Oh, I’ll just try out for the play. This is a good way to make new friends and try something new.’” And just like that, Mirika Jambudi was off and (symbolically) running at Pingry.
Soon, the question became, what didn’t Mirika try? She is the first student in Pingry’s history to lead four school publications during the same school year: The Pingry Record (student newspaper), Calliope (literary magazine), The Broken Wreckord (satire), and PCR (Pingry Community Research; scientific journal). She earned a Justin Society Award for her poems and led the Humanities Independent Research Team (HIRT) on American Modernism. Her love of all things literary prompted Mirika to start a nonprofit 501c(c) organization called BookOrators, where she shares her passion for books with young children in different underserved communities from the Philippines to Singapore to Saudi Arabia. She is a true global citizen.
And it’s not just her thoughtful and thought-provoking writing that moves so many. Her speaking skills are engaging and persuasive, as evidenced by her win of LeBow, the oratorical competition that requires speaking in front of more than 800 community members.
Timid? Try again.
Mirika found the vast opportunities at Pingry too exciting to pass up, and, even more importantly, she found a support system for risk taking that encouraged her to dive right in. The thrill and wonder of daily life at Pingry was infectious, and it transformed her approach from a meticulously planned freshman year to embracing—and discovering—unexpected interests.
“I had this mentality of saying yes to trying new things,” she says, before adding that Pingry is a place that allows its students to “create something much bigger than yourself.”
As she gets ready to step foot onto Harvard’s campus, there is one thing she is definitely bringing with her, along with all those packed bags: the joy and confidence to pivot from the stress fractures of life and Say Yes.