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The girl who scored 11/10

There are NOT many things Shyamli Suneesh can’t do. Be it drawing, painting, art and craft, classical dance, public speaking, poetry writing, anchoring or motivational speaking, young Shyamli has left a mark in all. Having studied in Dubai, she got early exposure to cosmopolitan culture and that helped her choose her path wisely.

Now a student at Sacred Heart College, Kochi, Shyamli has a thousand stories and anecdotes to share.

I’m Shyamli Suneesh, a college student in Kerala. A lover of arts and sciences, I love to explore life. I strongly believe in having an optimistic outlook towards life and I always tried my best to find opportunities in every situation, even if it’s adverse. My hobbies include meditating in silence, spending time with nature, listening to music, introspecting over thoughts, choreographing, and learning about mind power, spirituality, psychology, philosophy and more. My passions and interest areas are diversified and it includes classical dance, poetry writing, public speaking, anchoring, drawing and painting, arts and crafts, motivational speaking and teaching.

BIGGEST SUPPORT SYSTEM

My parents have been my biggest backbone and support system. They have always been there for me no matter what. They always gave me the freedom to pursue my passions. From a young age, I see my parents involved in social work and organizational activities in association with Malayalee organisations in the UAE. That’s the kind of environment I grew up in. Wherever they went, they took me along and I would interact with people much older than me at such a young age. They never restricted me into a sphere of an ‘Only Study Zone’. Definitely, I faced many failures but my parents supported me well to get up and fight and to never give up in life. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

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I’m here today because many people motivated and supported me. (Of course I’ve had to hear criticism along the way too) That became my biggest drive that I too want to bring up people in their lives. I love helping people. I continue to do that in every possible bit I can…I aspire to be a motivational speaker as well in the future.

SOME OF THE BEST THINGS I HAVE DONE

  • Participant of the Tournament of Champions, World Scholar's Cup, USA Yale University
  • Participant of Student Exchange Program with Juniata College, USA
  • Participant of Bali Asia International Model United Nations in WHO Council
  • Winner of Creative Writing Contest- Global Round of World Scholar's Cup
  • Holder of DELF A1 certificate, Diploma in the French Language
  • Recitation of a self-written poem by students at School Level competition in Ghaziabad
  • Active NSS Volunteer along with several other social initiatives
  • Winner of Haiku Poetry Competition-Inter College Literary Fest- Meraki
  • Winner of Inter- School Dance Competition- Jhankar- Bharatanatyam
  • Winner of Painting Competition - Sevanam Youth Festival, Ajman
  • Winner of Classical Dance Competition - UAE Open Youth Festivals, Dubai
  • Winner of Group On-the Spot Choreography- UAE, Sharjah
  • Winner of Talent Contest- Arts and Dance- Our Own English High School, Dubai
  • Winner of The Big Idea- Dance Step Up- Lamcy Plaza, Dubai
  • Winner of The Youngest Magazine Poster Making Competition, Dubai
  • Motivational Speaker at Sevanam Gavels Club and Toastmasters International, Sharjah
  • Winner of Pencil Drawing Competition- Symphony Music Institute
  • Participant of Quarter Finals of Star Quiz in Star TV
  • Participant in several Clean up Drives conducted by Emirates Environmental Group
  • Selected Participant in EEG Workshop
  • Anchor at the 75th Platinum Jubilee Celebrations: Heartifest at Sacred Heart College
  • Participant in Wing Word Poetry Competition

HOW I FELL IN LOVE WITH STUDIES

I love to approach education through a different angle and I love to immerse into the true bliss of student learning experience. It was back in Grade 5 that I realised I was someone who could actually study with love and interest. Till then I never bothered to open my books. Once we were given an interesting geography assignment in class where we had to make the assignment in class and not to write from home and submit. So the task was that we read the text, noting the important points and make a project with tabular columns. We had to make this live in class and were given the freedom to avail our creativity skills to the maximum. I started on my work and used a lot of sketches and colours.

Finally, it was time to submit and I was pretty scared of what my teacher would comment. One by one, she took the set of papers in her hand and she keenly observed even as my heartbeat was increasing. I still remember those words “Oh my God! Shyamli, the presentation is absolutely beautiful and creative. Every content has been presented well.” I’m confused, should I give you an 11/10!” These words struck to the core, never did I expect that… but these words continued to have a huge impact on me and my newly discovered love for social studies. Before this, I would think of myself as not of much use in studies…

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After this incident, I focused more upon the joy of learning and discovered that I can sit and study new things with interest if I really wanted to. I was awarded ‘Student of the Month’ on my birthday by a teacher who didn’t really acknowledge me earlier and that was shocking. Then the rocket took off, I was one among the Social Studies subject toppers, with either a 100 or a 99 or a 98, consecutively from grade 6 to grade 10. I experienced the process of learning through different phases. Even now, I’m not a person who supports judging a person based on their marks alone, but rather the entire focus should be on the growth and development of their interest and potential in a particular area or subject.

TRYST WITH CLASSICAL DANCE

Once when I went to see the performance of my mother’s friend’s daughter, I got attracted by the attire on stage and elegance of performance. I saw myself on stage with the same colourful dress and ornaments. Initially, I started off with training in cinematic dance and then turned to classical dance. Once I indulged myself with Indian Classical Dance, I never turned back..I fell in love with it. For long, it went on as mere stage performances, but the moment I was blessed with some spectacular teachers I saw the world of dance with a different perspective. Completely immersing yourself in the characters and performing a story-telling act through classical dance was true bliss. My parents being active in Malayalee organizations, I was given an ample number of stages to perform from a young age and hence didn’t really have a problem of stage fear as I grew old. In school and college, there were situations where we didn’t have teachers to help us with dance and that prompted me to take my first step into learning audio and video editing for shows along with doing simple choreographies.

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Those tough situations evolved us and pushed us to the maximum of tapping into our creativeness. I had written, choreographed, edited and presented a few Dance Drama productions along with amazing teams of passionate students. (Environment Day in grade 9, Tribute to Teachers in grade 11 (me as Sage Dhronacharya), Tribute to our Senior Citizens (a nostalgic walk) in Age-Friendly in the second year of college. )They were the biggest productions people still keep close to their hearts and that experience when they remember us as the characters we played were so mesmerizing. Many a time, a good team is our biggest strength. Without them, there wouldn’t be any proper coordination and the show would be a flop. Dance is an area where I have failed a couple of times but continue to put my best foot forward due to my love for dance. Have performed on several stages; Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattam, semi-classical, Kathak, contemporary etc…I still remember an incident where my English teacher in grade 12 asked me to perform a creative piece on the poem ‘Ode to Nightingale’ by John Keats. That really pushed me to think. I had to choreograph a classical piece in English words. Nowadays, I also perform on the spot, especially when we conduct programmes at Old age homes and orphanages

TRYST WITH ART

I used to love scribbling on books and walls during my childhood, and the guests whoever came home would see my display of artwork; mostly notebook papers with small drawings of my own characters torn and stuck on the wall. This led to my parents’ friends suggesting that your daughter should go for art classes so that she gets a push to evolve her talent further. That’s how I landed up being a student of one of the prominent freelance artists in the UAE. Sir was truly my biggest inspiration in art back then. He would always prompt his students to think out of the box. Consequently, we won many competitions.

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I was blessed to have done a number of colour pencil works and canvas paintings for exhibiting in group exhibitions. When I came to college, I got exposed to even more challenging works where I had to paint along with a team of student artists. Our College Principal challenged us to be eco-friendly and hence we banned the use of plastics and painted on pieces of cotton cloth stitched together and did works on 16X20 feet clothes. I was also given the opportunity to design the cover pages of our handwritten magazines of different clubs in college. It’s a dream to conduct an exhibition of my own; would be great when orchestrated for a social cause!

BEING A GOOD SPEAKER

My father is an ardent lover of public speaking and he has always pulled off his best speeches in Malayalam; even spontaneous ones would be presented for quite long. I have always loved the fact that he presents the content in a brief and crisp manner. My aunt and cousin used to take me to their club a guest, Toastmasters International in Kochi where we would see a display of talent in various genres of public speaking and at the same time, it’s great to see people evolve and grow. That was an inspiration for me to join the Sevanam Gavels Club in Dubai. It was a junior version of the Toastmasters International. There I was blessed with passionate mentors who would work sincerely for our development, giving us clear lessons in terms of body language, voice modulations, creativity on developing a speech topic and so on.

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I got exposed to several competitions and platforms to speak and I even got an opportunity to present a Motivational Talk at the age of 15 in front of an audience much older than me. That spark is still there in me with a deep desire to motivate many around me. That was a big turning point in my life. Later on, I completed the Competent Communicator level in Toastmasters by delivering 10 project speeches and received the official certificate from the US.

ANCHORING

Due to my love for English language and the exposure I got in Dubai, I didn’t hesitate to take the mike and speak about things I was confident of. Though I used to do small programmes from a young age, I was given a major full-day event to host, in grade 11. It was the Annual Day of the institution where I learned arts. Most of the time I was behind the curtains and it was my voice that was being projected. So though many didn’t see me directly, my voice resonated throughout the hall. I used to hate my voice till then due to the bass sound which made it look less feminine. But I was in for a totally unexpected response from the audience. Few strangers came searching to know who owned that particular unique voice and they found me. I was shocked to hear their compliments.

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Ever since then, I started liking my voice. In college, I was blessed with the privilege of being selected on the audition day even with a bad throat. It was to host the 75th Platinum Jubilee Celebration of Sacred Heart College, Thevara. That was the biggest platform/function I have ever hosted. There were many MLAs, MPs, actors, politicians etc. the audience constituted our famous alumni, our teachers and staff and student community. My mentors and teachers served a big role in my upbringing. After that, I got the opportunity to do anchoring for many programmes

WHY I PICKED PHYSICS

My entry into physics was pretty unexpected. I had written medical entrance like most students in India but failed to get into a government college. That led me to issues of low self-esteem and hit me hard. I never wanted to make my parents spend lakhs on my education. That’s when my higher secondary class teacher and entrance sir reminded me of my talent in physics. They were the ones who helped me identify my talents and skillsets. I always loved science and logic and was pretty good with physics. I loved spending time on cracking numericals and solving a variety of problems. Something that I was unconscious about and didn’t realize. But again, God sent me my teachers as angels to pave me the righteous way. Though initially confused about my decision, today I am happy with my decision as that led to many doors being opened; this College life and the level of exposure I got; I’m truly blessed and grateful. I wouldn’t have experienced all this if I were elsewhere… I love to see science in the practical application level and don’t really support rote textbook learning alone. Science is everywhere, one shouldn’t just restrict it to sole textbook theory.

In my second year of college, I was blessed with the opportunity to be one among the three students sent for Foreign Student Exchange programme for a month to Juniata College, Pennsylvania. The atmosphere, the teacher and guide I got to work with opened up an entirely new world and the dimension of physics. I was exposed to the American system of education along with an introduction to 3D printing, Robotics, advanced lab, etc. That was my second visit to the US; my first one was when I was sent for World Scholars’ Cup competition along with a team to Yale University. I’m also currently during certificate course in Robotics and Automation at a Robotics Academy in Kochi.

AN AMAZING PLACE CALLED SACRED HEART

I always wanted to carry on with my extra-curricular activities along with my studies to college and even forward. Well, what I have to say is although my entry into Sacred Heart College was totally unexpected, I am truly grateful and blessed to be a Heartian. With an amazing Father Principal and supportive faculty, we are given a plethora of platforms and opportunities to relish and re-invent ourselves. I was able to take my passions to the next level along with exposure to many other fields.

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I have also joined Age Friendly Club in the college. Age Friendly, as the name suggests, is a club for the aged where we are friendly to them in all ways possible. It’s an opportunity for those who want to keep learning and the right space where those who couldn’t get educated earlier can pursue a course to fulfil their dream of being educated. It’s a great interaction platform amongst the old and new generation. We offer classes in IT, Spoken English, Communicative French and Hindi to the elderly. (Fayz will soon publish a comprehensive article on this initiative at Sacred Heart).

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