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Alumni Spotlight: Sohan Kancherla (Class of 2012)

By: Head of School Elizabeth Zurlinden

February 27, 2019

Great Stories. Great Graduates.

It is my honor to introduce you to another incredible Rossman alumnus who truly makes a positive impact everywhere he goes. I had the opportunity to catch up with Sohan Kancherla as he began the second semester of his freshman year at Harvard University. Enjoy the following interview with a humble young man who embodies the Rossman mission of commitment to excellence.

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Sohan, name a few of your favorite Rossman memories.

“One of my favorite Rossman memories would have to be playing dodgeball and capture the flag during P.E. It was such a great time when all of my class would go outside or into the gym and play around. Especially when Mr. Huusko or Mrs. Babcock joined in the game, that’s how you know an intense match was going to ensue.

On another note, I loved Mr. Valdez’s math challenge puzzles that he would put up every week in fifth grade. These puzzles really pushed our class to embrace challenges and go beyond the curriculum. In particular, I remember Kaivon and I would race each other to finish the puzzles first. In the classroom and on the soccer field, Mr. Valdez always nurtured fun, good-natured competition.”

What is your favorite Rossman tradition?

“My favorite Rossman tradition would have to be Field Day. It is truly an iconic Rossman tradition, unrivaled by my Field Days at both Saint Louis Priory School and Harvard. I cherished being able to play wacky lawn games with my Rossman family, signing yearbooks, and then eating a picnic lunch filled with all sorts of goodies like Twinkies … and oh … two words: snow cones. It was certainly a great way to start off the summer!”

Is there a Rossman teacher you had a special connection with or who had a great impact on you?

“Not to sound cliché, but I have fond memories of all of my Rossman teachers, along with the behind-the-scene administrators and staff like the lunch ladies, Mrs. Moran, the extended day staff, and Mr. Haywood. Every time I come back to campus, it really feels like coming home. I would like to say thank you to everyone at Rossman. Your guidance, encouragement and love helped form me into who I am today. I’ll just try to share a few experiences that especially stand out.

Mrs. Morris is like a grandmother to me. On every visit back to Rossman, I always look forward to Mrs. Morris’s comforting hugs that seem to transport me back to Senior Kindergarten. As a shy and nervous SKer, she always made me feel special. I also have to mention Mr. Valdez’s impact on my drive and hunger for learning. I was lucky to have him both as my third grade and fifth grade teacher. His inspiration and motivation to teach was contagious and helped push us beyond our limits. Shout out to his challenge math and challenge spelling lessons, loved them both!”

How did Rossman prepare you for secondary school?

“I would say that Rossman prepared me superbly for secondary school at Saint Louis Priory School by giving me all the tools necessary to succeed academically as well as in terms of character development. Rossman’s intensive English/Writing curriculum and Mrs. Grote’s note-taking skills also had me more than prepared for Priory. Rossman instilled in me the hunger to learn and the drive to always challenge myself, allowing me to succeed in my studies and motivating me to pursue various extracurricular activities.” 

Are there aspects of your Rossman education that you still draw on as a college student?

“The four main principles of kindness, honesty, respect and responsibility guide me to this very day. Rossman’s other favorite saying of “treat others the way you would want to be treated” helped me to become mature and self-confident enough to stay on the right path and make some amazing friends along the way.

Rossman gave me the support I needed to start my college career on a good note with strong time-management skills and a solid sense of morals and values. I still strive to better my community wherever I am, a trait that Rossman engrained in me with its lessons in how to be a good friend and a kind human being.”

What do you hope to pursue professionally in the future?

“I am majoring in Biomedical Engineering and am currently considering a career in either medicine or business.”

Please share with me any awards you have received, including secondary school, college or community awards (I know you aren’t one to brag, but please do!).

“I was the Valedictorian and Student Council President of my class at Priory, earned a Perfect Score on my ACT, and was a National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar with Distinction.

I was recognized as a national Coca-Cola Scholar, a national AXA Achievement Scholar, a Presidential Scholar Semifinalist, and a Saint Louis County Outstanding Student Leader. For my community service efforts, I was honored with the Princeton Prize in Race Relations, Semifinalist for the Yale Bassett Award for Community Engagement, and the St. Louis Martin Luther King Jr. Model of Justice Award.”

What was the genesis of your idea to create Bridges to America and the Interfaith Youth Council?

“The idea of Bridges to America came about to help myself and my classmates gain a greater appreciation for the bright mosaic of cultures in our area and to aid immigrants and refugees assimilating into American society. My work with Interfaith Youth council was aimed to foster a dialogue between various religions in the St. Louis area. In an increasingly polarized society, I’m trying to play a small part in breaking down some of the barriers blocking communication between members of different faiths and backgrounds.”

What was your favorite…

Rossman lunch?

“Mostaccioli and Texas toast”

Holiday Program song?

“Hot Cup of Cocoa”

Field trip?

“My favorite field trips were Sixth Grade Camp and Space Camp. Getting to bond with my class outside of school was a truly awesome and exciting experience. I actually still have vivid memories of the fun chants and campfire stories we sang and the thrill of the Space Camp G-Force ride with my friends. Anyone close to me can tell you that I still proudly bring up how I was a real co-pilot at Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.”

blog_kancherla_6th.jpgGrade level?

“While I enjoyed every grade level at Rossman, fond memories of Sixth Grade probably stick out the most in my head. Being able to be a leader at Rossman and act as a model for the younger students was a transformative experience for me. I really matured that year, and I gained a lifelong community of friends that I still keep in touch with.”

Any advice for Rossman students or parents?

“Trust and embrace the community of Rossman. It’s a great place with a great group of people. In regard to either academics, respect for others, or overall character, Rossman kids really do stick out in any middle or high school. Rossman really helped me put down roots and grow wings to fly.”

Complete this sentence. Rossman is ______.

“Rossman is my family.”

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