November Senior of the Month – Aichata Diarra
School: Carver Engineering and Science
Nominator: John Taylor Baranik
Everyone you meet who knows Aichata can’t help but tell you what a great student, great person, and great kid Aichata is. She leaves the most positive impression on everyone she encounters from the front door to the front office, and you hear over and over how upbeat and positive and helpful she is. And, you find out quickly, they’re all spot on!
She currently lives with her family, including two older sisters (both current students at Drexel), in Southwest Philadelphia, but her family is originally from Mali. She has close family nearby also, including cousins she’d have sleepovers with every weekend, when they were all younger. Several of those cousins went to Carver, and that’s what inspired her to choose the school. “My cousin was always so self-sufficient; he could fix any problem and seemed like he could figure anything out, and I wanted to be that well-rounded too”, says Aichata of her choice to follow their lead.
She’s been very happy with her choice, and talks with enthusiasm about her classes, her teachers, and her extracurriculars. She’s been focused on biology as a path, since she wants to go to college for pre-med or something biology-related, but she’s equally strong in English; she’s taken Honors English every year, and currently interns for her AP Literature teacher. She loves reading and even picked up a love for dystopian fiction recently. This summer, Aichata participated in an intensive biomedical research summer program at St. Joseph’s University, completing research on cancer biomarkers in cells and tissues.
She’s been heavily active in sports while at Carver. Her nominating teacher and track coach, Mr. John Taylor Baranik, said “I would be remiss if I did not comment on Aichata’s personality and infectious enthusiasm. It’s not uncommon for Aichata to finish a track workout exhausted and on the ground, then to roll over to yell a “Good job! Finish, Queen! Pump your arms!” to another of the young ladies on the team. This enthusiasm is contagious, and last year with Aichata’s help our Girls track team won the Philadelphia city championships in Indoor Track and Outdoor Track. Aichata would follow these performances with a stellar PIAA State Championships campaign, with a top-10 individual performance in the 400m at the and a top-10 team race in the 4x400m, breaking the school record along the way.“
Division 1 schools have been recruiting Aichata for track. She’s gotten acceptance letters from a few already but is still waiting for her favorite, Johns Hopkins, to reply.
We asked Aichata some of our favorite questions:
1. What does being named Senior of the Month mean to you?
Being named Senior of the Month means everything to me. It validates my hard work and motivates me to continue striving for excellence. And it brought a smile to my face to think that one of my teachers was out there looking at all of my accomplishments and thought I deserved this. This recognition reinforces my commitments towards education, leadership, and performance. It also means that my mother can brag to the whole family!
2. Why do you think you were nominated for Senior of the Month?
I believe that I was nominated for Senior of the Month because of my consistent commitment to both my school and community. Throughout my high school journey, I have never stopped striving to excel in academics and also positively contribute to my school’s community.
3. You were nominated by John Taylor Baranik. Explain your relationship to him/her. Why do you think s/he nominated you specifically?
The one and only, TB. TB has been my track and field coach since sophomore year and has shown nothing but empathy, compassion, and respect towards his athletes and students. My admiration for TB stems from his continuous ability to hold students accountable while also maintaining a deep understanding of various student situations. I had the privilege of having TB as my teacher for both AP Seminar and AP Research, where I observed his diligent work ethic. I believe TB nominated me because he observed the challenges I faced in my personal life while simultaneously striving to excel academically. His nomination, I believe, reflects his desire to see my efforts acknowledged and appreciated.
4. What is one thing you’d like to share about yourself that most people don’t know about you?
I lived in Mali for the first few years of my life! My siblings were older when we moved so they feel more connected and have traveled back and forth but I haven’t been back since I was five.
5. What do you enjoy most when you are not at school?
I love reading books. I will read anything, horror, fantasy, ANYTHING! And I love baking, cooking, and TikTok.
6. In your opinion, what is the best thing about attending school at Carver?
The best thing about attending Carver is knowing that I am always prepared for the unknown. Carver’s curriculum prepares students not only for college but for all sorts of trades, life, and their uncertain futures. The teachers and staff of Carver make it their duty to make sure that their students are not only book-smart but life-smart.
7. In your opinion, what is one thing that the School District could do to improve our service to students?
While there are some ways for students to voice their concerns about their schools, such as by serving as representatives for their schools in district meetings. I believe the accessibility of that information is slim for many students and because of that, student voices are left unheard. Finding a better way for students to communicate directly and be represented would definitely improve the services to students.
Thanks for sharing your stories with us Aichata and best of luck to you wherever you land!!