WEST WARWICK — There’s no substitute for hard work, Meghan Janicki said during a recent interview. Even if something seems impossible, she said, as long you put in the effort, you’re bound to see results.
“It will be a random Friday when you’ll get that email or that letter that will change your life,” she said.
If Janicki, salutatorian of the West Warwick High School class of 2021, could offer any bit of wisdom to students just beginning their high school years, that would be it. But, she said, she’d also tell them to be cautious in their pursuits.
“You should work hard,” she continued, “but not at the risk of losing your passions and what truly inspires you.”
After an unusual school year, with pandemic restrictions meaning that much of her time was spent learning remotely, Janicki said she’s excited for what’s to come.
“It’s been very inspiring, just in the past few weeks, being able to see everyone that we haven’t seen in a year and half,” she said of returning to the classroom after studying under a mostly hybrid model that saw students learning in person during alternating days. “I’m definitely excited for this summer, to spend a little bit more time with everyone, and then for college in the fall. It feels good.”
Janicki will head to the Georgia Institute of Technology in the fall on a full-ride Stamps scholarship.
With a passion for the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), Janicki has declared a computer engineering major, and plans to focus on automation and cybersecurity. She also hopes to minor in aerospace engineering.
Janicki is inspired by the ways in which innovation can improve lives, and said she wants to use technology to benefit others.
“I just hope to make a difference in the world around me," she said, "and to try to make it a better place, as much as I can."
Even had she not received the scholarship, Janicki added, Georgia Tech would have been a strong contender while weighing her higher education options. In part, she said, that decision has been influenced by her participation in National Energy Education Development (NEED) Club, a group that Janicki helped bring from Deering Middle School to the high school.
“Our mantra has always been ‘be the change,’” she said of the club, “so going to one of the best engineering schools, which truly is dedicated to creating the next, I just want to be a part of that atmosphere and that culture of engineering tomorrow.”
In addition to NEED — led by Mark Grover, a science teacher at the high school who Janicki said most inspired her throughout her high school career — Janicki was a member of the STEM Club, and was on the cross-country, indoor track and golf teams.
Janicki will really miss participating in those clubs and activities, she said.
As for the classes in high school that have influenced her, Janicki’s favorites were AP Physics II and AP Calculus. And despite not being all that interested in history as a subject, she also enjoyed her U.S. History II class last year. In particular, she said, she enjoyed delivering the closing argument during a debate on the atomic bomb.
“The class allowed me to go from not liking history,” she said, “to seeing all of the different applications, even in today’s world, and really appreciating it in a deeper way.”
As she prepares to turn her tassel during tonight’s graduation ceremony, Janicki said she wants to thank the teachers at West Warwick High School who have helped her along the way.
“They’ve been truly inspiring and I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today without them,” she said. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you’ve got to learn something from everyone, or try to, because it will help you in the end.”