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Trisha Panganiban pursues passions through challenges

Senior Trisha Panganiban has been overcoming challenges her whole life.

“It started with my parents not being the support system I needed them to be from an early age,” Panganiban said. “Ever since I can remember, I was already looking out for myself, because I kind of expected my parents not to. And back then, I thought that was just a part of growing up.”

Panganiban was born in San Diego, but moved to Novato before her freshman year. She lived in the Philippines for six months when she was in fourth grade, and is a first generation citizen who speaks a little Tagalog in addition to English.

Panganiban described the transition from San Diego to Novato as “crazy.”

“Moving from a big city to a small town was like culture shock to the max,” Panganiban said. “For example, in San Diego there are a lot of Pacific Islanders and just a lot of diversity. You don’t really see that on campus here, and if you do, there’s obviously one race that’s kind of predominant.”

Due to ongoing difficulties in her home life, Panganiban has had to support herself, leading her to set different priorities than her classmates.

“I feel like kids here are in this bubble, like they haven’t experienced the rest of the world,” Panganiban said. “I was thrown into it and had to dive headfirst into adult life. From the start, [I] had to figure out everything on my own, whether it be on how to form relationships, how to take care of myself, or how to do well in the world and succeed on my own.” Panganiban said that she never lets the challenges she faces inhibit her academic performance.

“My biggest priority right now is just making sure that I don’t live the same life that I was stuck in,” she said. “I know that things can get better, but I have to put the effort into it if I want it to happen. Getting good grades to me means endless possibilities for scholarships, schools and whatever else there may be.”

In addition to maintaining a 3.8 GPA, Panganiban participates in Mock Trial and varsity swimming. She considers the pool to be “a space where I don’t have to focus on anything else, just on moving forward.”

In the future, Panganiban hopes to pursue science, as she enjoys biotechnology, physical biology, psychology, evolution and other areas in the field.

“Trisha is that rare person who combines intellectual curiosity and capacity alongside a deep moral sense,” English and philosophy teacher Wesley Swedlow said. “No less, Trisha is kind to others and impressively mature for her age—more mature than many adults I’ve met. And all of these traits remain strong even when facing difficulties that many might find debilitating. Obviously, Trisha is a strong student and classmate, but most importantly, she’s a truly good person.”

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