HUMANS OF BELLAIRE – Hala Alnajdawi
“My high school experience was great. I feel like I didn’t get the full experience due to COVID, quarantine and then masks coming back [to school], but I [am] glad [with] the amount of time that I got to spend. I came from Pershing Middle School. At the time, it wasn’t as diverse as it is now, so I didn’t meet a lot of people who shared my culture. [I] mainly grew up in a predominantly white school, even [in] elementary school, so coming here and seeing the amount of clubs, how diverse the school is and how many people there are, how there’s an Arabic Club and MSA (Muslim Student Association) Club, that was exactly what I was looking for. I joined the Arabic Club [and] the MSA club. I was really passionate about those because it showed how many people there were here that were just like me and [had] the same background as me. I joined BISA junior and senior year. That was great. I got to learn a lot more about my culture, and I really got to showcase where I was from. [BISA was] the highlight of second semester. I’d always be looking forward to it and BISA fest.
Pre-COVID, I used to be a person who was very social. [People] think I’m this overly social, talkative person. In reality, it depends on the group that I’m hanging around. That’s what sparks my inner socialness. Going into junior year, I was frightened. Even people who I knew, they seemed like complete strangers to me. Just standing up in class and having to present takes a lot out of me. I literally have to go through several deep breaths [and] hope I don’t panic. You’d think that it was easier to talk in front of people, but now it’s very challenging. I learned how to [go] up to people and speak to them. Coming from a different school, everyone [already] knew each other. You have to physically be the one that [goes] up to people and says hi. Trust me, through that, you’ll gain a lot of friends and experiences. And learning Arabic, I spoke the language, but I [didn’t] know how to read or write it. Coming into Bellaire, I took it all of high school, and now I can walk on with my life knowing that I know how to read and write it as a language. That’s something that impacted me hugely.
[The] biggest thing I regret aside from not getting the full four year experience due to COVID [is] sophomore year, when everything was virtual. I’m personally not a virtual learner; [I learn] more hands on, so I regret not making the greatest grades at the time [and] not working as hard for junior year because I was trying to get accustomed to reality and social life. If I could go back to junior year, I would put more effort into my classes and be involved in more clubs than I am in right now.
I’m planning to attend the University of Houston, and hopefully, I will be going into business. My dream is to become a female CEO and make my parents proud because I’m [the] first generation [to attend college] and [the] oldest child. I [want to be remembered] as fun, nice, culturally diverse and someone who people can always talk to. I feel like I’m social, friendly and easy to talk to. I swear I’m nice.
Enjoy high school. Have fun. Be a part of every single club. Don’t be scared to try new stuff, and don’t let anything hold you back. Even if you feel like you know you can’t do it, try it. You won’t know ‘til you physically try the thing. Even AP classes, don’t be scared to enter them. Go in for the first week. If you feel like it’s too challenging, then go down a level, but don’t regret it. Take the leap of faith, and if it doesn’t work for you, then just step down. Know where your limits are. That will be the key to your success.
It was a great four years here at Bellaire. I’m glad I didn’t choose another high school. I knew from that first day when I came here in eighth grade and toured the campus at the old building, this was the school for me. It was a weird feeling. I [only] walked the halls once, and I got accepted by multiple others [schools], but I knew [Bellaire] was the right fit. I’m very glad that I made this choice, and I can successfully say that I made it.”