By VASUMATHI VENKAT ’22
A proud EHS graduate, Rebecca Chelli ‘18 is currently studying public policy at Princeton University. During her time at Edison High, she explored a variety of opportunities presented to her in social sciences. Today, she is grappling with pressing questions.
The Eagle’s Eye contacted Chelli for an in-person chat about her experience at Edison High and inspiring thoughts on social science and university.
EE: So, you go to Princeton; that’s quite an accomplishment. How do you think EHS prepared you for the college experience, specifically your major? Or rather, what would you say is the main difference?
RC: High school really helped in the transition from school to college, in terms of study skills and work ethic. But, I wouldn’t say AP classes and high school honors classes are comparable to college because of their end goals. AP classes have a final test in mind, whereas college courses are focused on the content with the final test as an afterthought.
A hard-worker, Chelli was a well-rounded student and pursued a variety of activities in her field of interest. She held the position of Student Council class president for 4 straight years and participated in Tri M, English Honor Society, and chamber orchestra, among other innumerable activities.
EE: What types of projects have you done so far, and what do you look forward to learning/doing in the future?
RC: Right now, I’m here at Edison High for research on a project, collecting data on the use of computers in school at Edison. This district has a unique 1:1 [student to device] initiative that many other districts and counties even in New Jersey don’t have.
EE: So will we be seeing you around the school frequently?
RC: Actually, no. This is my last day here for research this week. I enjoyed visiting Edison High School again though.
As a public policy student, she is studying how community and resources are intertwined in her research. At school, she grapples with existential questions about public policy and morality: Should community service be paid? What is the best path for the world moving forward? She is minoring in Spanish, the secondary language of the US, because she believes that learning foreign languages is crucial to “talking to others in a community and learning about culture.”
EE: Do you have a particular dream job in your field of study?
RC: I don’t have a specific dream job in mind, but I want a job where I can travel. In previous internships, I was able to have conversations with so many people, which was pretty cool, but it was on the phone in a small room.
EE: So, not a fan of desk jobs, huh? When you first entered college, did you know what you wanted to major in? Did you have a plan from high school?
RC: I knew I wanted to major in public policy, but I didn’t know what to expect when I entered when I first took a course on theoretical policy. It turned out to be pretty cool. It grappled with what the world should be like, but different people have different views and must each determine the best policy for the world at this point.
Chelli’s experience in that class, along with her growing knowledge, led to a profound passion for community service and public policy, as she is now conducting detailed research.
EE: If you didn’t pursue public policy, what do you think you would have studied?
RC: Otherwise, I would have probably studied classics on Greece and Rome because there is a lot you can learn from the past, specifically interesting facts on Greek recipes, and even the construction of Roman bathrooms.
EE: That’s fascinating. Is there anything you regret not doing in high school? Any advice you would give to current high-schoolers, specifically for those wanting to pursue public policy?
RC: I took a class in journalism in university; I wish I took something like that in high school. But, I would mainly say enjoy your time here because it’s important. People working with people is a really important skill that you learn through teamwork and group work in school and it’s really important later on.
Chelli asserts that if you take advantage of the opportunities you are given, expand your friendships, and learn from your high school experience, endless possibilities lie ahead.