Senior Spotlight: Swetha Pendela Strives to Lead Others


Photo used with permission from Swetha Pendela

Senior Spotlight. South’s Swetha Pendela enters her last semester of high school. She reflected upon her years serving many of South’s clubs and organizations.

South Forsyth senior Swetha Pendela has dedicated her four years at South to serving the community and creating foundations for various clubs and organizations at SFHS. Pendela is deeply involved in over 20 clubs at the school and is an officer for seven of these organizations. She serves as the club president or co-president of UNICEF, Senior BETA, Science Olympiad and Key Club. Her dedication and devotion to her academics and extracurriculars have made her a role model for many, and she hopes to use these positions to leave her mark on SFHS for years to come.

Pendela discussed her experiences regarding these organizations as well as her motivation for getting involved.

Q: How would you describe your experiences within these different leadership positions? 

A: “I would describe my experiences as unique, challenging, and most definitely worth it. Each of my leadership positions has provided me opportunities to explore areas of knowledge that I never considered before while also allowing me to engage with new people and form friendships.

“There have been challenges as with any leadership position, but by working with others to strategically problem solve and be creative, I have grown as a team member and as a leader. Each of these positions has shaped me to be the individual I am, and I know that without them I would not possess the growth mindset and characteristics that make me unique.” 

Q: Can you reference a specific time in which you’ve encountered a setback but persevered through it? 

A: “There were many times I’ve encountered setbacks. In terms of my officer positions, I think COVID-19 in itself is a setback for everyone, but specifically trying to organize in-person or effective events amidst such a time is very difficult. I persevered through it because I collaborated with other dedicated individuals who were willing to go to extra lengths to bring change to our community and see a beneficial outcome. Communication especially helped with this because it allowed us to work together to bring various parts of the community together.

“But aside from my clubs, I faced rejection from this one program that I was invested in. I ended up being eliminated from the candidates early on in the process; and at first, I took this as a sign that I was not good enough or that I would never be successful, but I learned that this mindset was horrible. I changed this to be a learning experience and used my growth mindset to realize where I went wrong, and I used the experience as motivation to work harder in the future.” 

Q: What drives or motivates you to succeed in school?

A: “I think motivation is something that a lot of people struggle with, especially in our current state, but finding a personal way to motivate oneself is something I think is essential to success. I find motivation and drive with my friends as they are constantly encouraging me and supporting me in my endeavors, but also personal goals.

“With anything that I do, I try to think about what impact I can make with the action I am partaking in, and that end result is what motivates me. Whether it be an assignment pushing me to challenge the bounds of my knowledge or a service project to serve the community, the goal no matter how big or small, when focused on, has provided me motivation to dedicate time and effort to that topic.”

Q: What is your most memorable moment in SFHS?

A: “I have several favorite moments. One of my most favorite memories from the past couple of years has been our annual Dance Company Showcase. I joined this team my junior year, afraid that I might not fit in, but I was completely wrong because everyone welcomed me with such open arms, and they immediately became another family to me. I remember how stressed, excited, and energetic we were that day and the entire week leading up to the show. Our practices, parties, inside jokes, and dances were something I will never forget. The show was so fun to experience and working with such talented individuals made me feel like I was part of an inseparable group.

“Another thing I’ll never forget was when I was on Prom Court last year. Prom is considered somewhat of a high school experience that everyone must have, and I took that for granted until I actually went. Seeing my name on a little star, dancing with my friends, and eating macaroons, I genuinely realized how much I would miss this school once I leave.” 

Q: What is the most rewarding award you’ve received?

A: “I think the most rewarding award for me was winning 1st place at state with my HOSA MRC (Medical Reserve Corps) group. We had worked all year to contribute over 500 hours of service together towards our community, and I will never forget how happy I was to celebrate with my group. We held various events throughout the year from webinars to donation drives to even creating an interpretive dance, and receiving that award was just part of the rewards that we got from that experience.

“Alongside placing, we also knew that we had made a difference in our community, and we created friendships that otherwise would not be so unbreakable.”

Q: What advice would you give to underclassmen?

A: “There are a lot of things that I wish I had known as an underclassman. Here are a few pieces of advice I would give to those who are just starting out in high school. Of course, we all have different high school experiences, but here are a few of my personal takeaways. First of all, take classes if you are passionate about them; a lot of people get blindsided by the idea that colleges want you to take a million AP classes, but if you do not enjoy what you are learning, then is there really a purpose in taking the class?

“Secondly, push your boundaries. There are so many friendships and experiences that I never would have had if I had stayed within my comfort zone. Even if something seems scary, go for it. You can only regret what you never tried.

“Failure is a part of life. If we let failure hold us back, then we would not be able to grow. Not everyone is going to appreciate what you have to offer, and sometimes what you give to the table may not be enough, and that is ok. The only thing we can do is accept that and take it as a learning experience to become better leaders.

“Stay true to yourself. There is a lot of pressure in high school to conform to other people’s ideas, beliefs, and leadership traits, but at the end of the day, you are only you. You were born to be an original so don’t be a copy of someone else. Your morals, values, priorities, and passions all make you someone unique.

“And of course, make the most of high school. And that does not mean cowering in your room doing homework all night, nor does it mean partying every day. I just mean take time for yourself, to explore the things you love, to make friends, and to try new things. Do what makes you happy.”