by KELLEY GUSICH

Best Version of Herself

When she was only four, Shriya Selvakumar began practicing Bharatanayam – a classical Indian dance form. Completing a 10-year study of this dance, the Bharatanayam Arangetam, she explained, “I truly became passionate about the dance form when I began to admire the grace and significance found in each routine.” Shriya is also a first-degree black belt and received a Girl Scout Silver Award with her troop by creating a plan to enhance the lives of the homeless in San Diego. A 4S Ranch resident since the age of five, she said, “The welcoming environment is what constantly motivates me to give back to my community by volunteering.”


Name: Shriya Selvakumar (16)
School: Del Norte High School
Grade: 11
Parents: Selvakumar and Kavitha
Sibling: Kiruthic Selvakumar (11)
Favorite Local Spot: Del Sur Town Center


Shriya’s fascination with form and function highlights everything she does. From dance and karate to science and math, her interests help her probe the reasoning and logic behind concepts she learns. This becomes obvious when looking at one of her volunteer jobs: working with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients at the ActivCare Memory Center in 4S Ranch. Spending time and interacting with the residents in activities like eating, taking walks, or working on little projects, Shriya observed the way they process information. She then created activities that would catch the residents’ attention and allow them to interact, like reading books with specific groups of images or laying out maps with pictures of different countries, then asking the resident to connect the image to its description. “Ultimately I found that an important factor in keeping the residents’ minds active was to see how they drew connections among ideas presented to them,” Shriya confirmed. She has since gathered these ideas and information into an informational packet to be sent to memory caretakers in India who don’t have the facilities or foundation to provide the advanced care available here.

“My friends and family inspire me to be the best version of myself. Their personal growth motivates me to reach new heights, and the values I learn from them push me to be a kinder person.”

In addition to volunteer time at ActivCare, Shriya is the founder and president of ShineUnited, Inc., a nonprofit helping people in need receive basic sanitary and educational tools, complementing the fundraising activities she practices to support the homeless population in San Diego. A writing tutor, debater, and member of multiple STEM clubs at Del Norte High School, she plans to pursue a career in STEM at a prestigious university. With all Shriya does to inspire, she has her own inspirations: “My friends and family inspire me to be the best version of myself,” Shriya said. “Their personal growth motivates me to reach new heights, and the values I learn from them push me to be a kinder person.”