Patchogue-Medford Schools

Ivy League bound!

Pat-Med seniors headed to the greatest schools in America

Nicole Fuentes
Posted 5/30/24

hogue-Medford and William Floyd High Schools will be attending some of America’s top schools this year. Having placed in the top of their class, they are now headed to the Ivy Leagues.

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Patchogue-Medford Schools

Ivy League bound!

Pat-Med seniors headed to the greatest schools in America


Three students from both Patchogue-Medford and William Floyd High Schools will be attending some of America’s top schools this year. Having placed in the top of their class, they are now headed to the Ivy Leagues.

(Last week featured William Floyd’s valedictorian headed to Harvard visit for the full story.)


No. 1: Rithika Sivapokaran,

  • Hometown: Medford
  • GPA: 105.24 (weighted)
  • College:  Princeton University
  • Projected Major of Study: Chemical and Biological Engineering

Was Ivy League or Princeton always your plan? 

“Attending an Ivy League school has always been one of my aspirations, driving my educational journey. When I reached high school and started researching various schools, I fell in love with Princeton. It stood out not only for its academic rigor, but also for its vibrant social environment. I was drawn to the active student involvement in school activities and the strong sense of connection between the university and the town. This was particularly important to me, having been born and raised in a close-knit community and being deeply involved in my school and local activities. “

Are you the first one in your family to go to an Ivy League school?

“Yes, I am also the first person in my family, on both sides, to receive an American education.”

Who is most proud of you? 

“My parents are extremely proud of me. They have witnessed the effort I have dedicated to my education over the years and have been my greatest supporters. They have encouraged me through both my successes and challenges. In many ways, I feel like we have reached this point together.”

How much work did it take? 

“It required a great deal of effort. I invested significant time in studying and participating in various school and community activities. Sometimes it was emotionally challenging; there were moments when I lacked confidence or felt extremely worried about the outcome. I am truly fortunate to have had supportive parents, teachers, and a guidance counselor who helped me through times of doubt. Despite the challenges, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything—I met so many incredible people and made countless memories that I’ll cherish forever.”

What’s your advice for people who want to go to Ivy League schools?

“My advice for people who want to go to Ivy League schools is to plan ahead and stay organized. It’s important to map out your goals and make a clear plan for how to achieve them. Take advantage of your summers by doing something you’re passionate about—join an internship, help out at a local soup kitchen, or even start a nonprofit! The possibilities are endless. Don›t be afraid to ask for help—seek guidance from teachers, counselors, and peers. Above all, stay true to yourself. Let your authentic self shine through in your applications and interviews. Don’t hold back; being genuine and showing who you truly are is what will help you stand out.”

What are your future plans? What do you want to be?

“I intend to pursue studies in chemical and biological engineering. Additionally, my passion extends to computer science and neuroscience. I’m particularly fascinated by the development of brain-computer interfaces (BCI) and aspire to delve deeper into this field, hoping to both learn more about it and contribute to its advancement.”

Rithika’s supporters:

Gina Romani, guidance counselor

“Rithika’s outstanding work ethic and her sincere, generous spirit inspires all of us here at PMHS. It has been an honor to be her school counselor.”

Nantha Sivapokaran, mom

“I am indescribably proud of my daughter! Words cannot express how proud we are as parents!  My daughter has recently been accepted into Princeton University, one of the prestigious Ivy League colleges. This achievement is a testament to her hard work, dedication, and unwavering determination. We can’t wait to see what her future holds!”

No. 3: Isabella Salducco, Co-Essayist 

Hometown: Medford

  • GPA: 104.71 (weighted)
  • College:  Cornell University
  • Projected Major of Study: Biomedical Engineering

Was Ivy League or Cornell always your plan?

“Honestly, I never had a solid plan; I just wanted to get into the right school for me. I never had a dream school; I simply put forth my best effort to yield the best results I could. I always dreamed of going to a good school, where I would be happy and be given the resources I need to succeed in the future. However, I never really knew what school this would be, so I am eternally grateful to be given the opportunity to attend Cornell. It is more than I could ever wish for.”

Are you the first one in your family to go to an Ivy League school?

“Yes, I am the first one in my family to attend an Ivy League school.”

Who is most proud of you?

“The people that share the most pride in my achievements are my parents. They have been the motivators for my success, crafting and developing the foundation of my dreams with their endless support and love. Their belief in my potential fueled my aspirations and encouraged me through every challenge of my life. Their pride isn’t simply in my current achievements, but rather the journey that has brought me there. They have been a part of the sacrifices, late nights and the small victories along the way, watching me grow into who I am today. Their unwavering support has been instrumental in my success, and I am incredibly grateful for everything they have done to bring me where I am today.”

How much work did it take?

“School was always one of my top priorities. I always felt that in order to achieve my goals, I had to work my absolute hardest in everything I do. I would have days where I went to school at 7 in the morning and didn’t get home until 10 at night. Between clubs, rehearsals, practices, games and homework, I was kept in a constant frenzy of work. I had very little spare time outside of my school work and invested so much of my mental and physical energy into my work, resulting in days where I felt stressed and tired. Balancing the different activities with my academic responsibilities required effective time management and a lot of perseverance. Overall, the effort I put forward was extensive, but also extremely rewarding because it taught me the value of hard work, persistence, and staying true to myself, which are lessons I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”

What’s your advice for people who want to go to Ivy League schools?

“My advice to anyone is to always try new things—try out for the sport you always wanted to or join the club you always seemed drawn to. While the effort you put into academics is super important, a well-rounded, passion-filled education will lead you to greater things in life than a perfect transcript. Take advantage of opportunities that are given to you and search for the path that suits your passions and interests. By doing this, you will become a more unique version of yourself that will go on to be successful in the future. You will end up where you belong, and I believe that the best course of action to get there is to find yourself and develop your own passions. And always remember that if you spend too much time stressing over where you are going to end up in the future, you might miss out on all of the memories you could be making in high school. While it is important to be looking towards the future, be careful not to miss out on the present, because once it is gone, there is no getting it back.”

What are your future plans? What do you want to be?

“In the field of engineering, new frontiers are continuously being explored, ranging from the use of AI technology in medical devices to the potential for gene therapy that would reverse the aging process. However, along with enormous progress comes a widening gap throughout the world; while some nations continue to shatter barriers and make strides in the field, others unfortunately regress. My hope is that in the future I can be an engineer that works toward closing this poverty gap in medical technology. As a biomedical engineer, I could develop more affordable biotechnology that would increase accessibility to technology in countries that currently suffer from insufficient medical systems.”

Anything else you want to share?

“One of the most important lessons I have learned is to find your why. The reason behind what you do, the tears you shed and the work you put in. If you don’t have an actual reason and are burning off of the fuel of superficial desire, it’ll run out quickly. You will experience burnout and end up feeling lost within yourself. However, if you self-reflect and find a true motivation behind your goals, your flame of passion will burn bright for the rest of your life. You will enjoy your work and your classes, leading you to do great things. People will never be able to control you or your actions and you will feel confident in your chosen life path.”

Isabella’s supporters:

Leighann Gallagher, basketball coach

“Isabella Salducco, a.k.a., Bella is a dream student-athlete. She excels in all she puts her mind to with grace and determination. Whether it’s academically or on the basketball court, as the captain of the girls varsity basketball team, she consistently represents herself as a role model. As a coach, I couldn’t ask for a better leader to set the tone for our teams and overall program. You ask Isabella to do something and she makes it her goal to get there, not just for herself but for her teammates and the success of her team. Her positive attitude, selflessness, and dependability gravitates people towards her. I know Isabella is going to do wonderful things throughout her life. This is just the beginning of her success. I couldn’t be prouder.”

Christopher J. Angelora, math teacher

“Bella has been an integral part of Patchogue-Medford athletics, participating on our basketball teams.  Keeping up with such a rigorous academic and athletic schedule is often tough for many, but not for Bella.  Her determination far exceeds the demands placed on her on a daily basis. When it comes to being a leader, Isabella is a natural. Through her various academic, athletic, and volunteer works, Bella has evolved into a remarkably well-rounded young woman. She was a pleasure to teach and continues to be a wonderful part of the student body.  Patchogue-Medford’s loss following Bella’s graduation will be the world’s windfall, because she is, simply stated, the ideal candidate for any university, particularly an Ivy League university.”


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