November 13, 2019

Combining the Spiritual With the Practical

Chana Shemghatan, 18
High School: Valley Torah
College: Undecided

Chana Shemghatan has spent her time at Valley Torah High School working hard to achieve good grades and giving back to her community. She not only balanced AP Calculus and AP Language, she also found the time to serve as co-president of her 12th grade class, volunteer with ETTA — a Jewish special needs organization — and participate in the Holocaust Remembrance Project, where she received the Exemplary Chessed Award three times. 

Next up: Shemghatan will spend her gap year at Tomer Devorah Seminary in Jerusalem.

“When you go to seminary, you have a whole year to just concentrate on yourself and know your strengths and weaknesses,” Shemghatan told the  Journal. “I wanted to do that before I go out into the real world.”

Between studying for school and leading her senior class, Shemghatan was as an ETTA youth board member. She’s been volunteering with the organization since her freshman year. 

“Volunteering teaches you to be so grateful,” she said. “It helps you be more patient, caring, responsible and a hard worker.” 

For her work with the Holocaust Remembrance Club, Shemghatan interviewed survivors. “People in my generation are some of the last to see these Holocaust survivors face-to-face,” she said. “They are getting older and passing away. It’s important to grasp every story and hear every experience so we can take it in and pass it down.”

Shemghatan has many interests — theater, math, science and the law — but plans to study to become a physician’s assistant (PA). “I was always so interested in the medical field,” she said. “I wanted to be a doctor, but I know that it’s hard to marry young or have a family because I want to be home for my husband and kids. A PA has short hours, so I could do what I love and also be with my family.” 

“Volunteering teaches you to be so grateful. It helps you be more patient, caring, responsible and a hard worker.” 

Shemghatan said she is also very spiritual and proudly Jewish. She said it’s calming to believe in God, because she knows there is a higher power looking out for her. She loves being able to openly express her Judaism because when she lived in Iran as a child, she and her family weren’t able to. 

“We had to hide that we were Jewish,” she said. “[Now] I can go out and feel Jewish and dress like I’m religious. That’s a great feeling to have.”

Shemghartan is excited about the future. “I’m so excited to be an adult,” she said. “In high school, they tell you what you need to learn. Everything is handed to you. I’m excited to go and be a [physician’s assistant] and make a difference and be my own person now.”

Keep on reading about our 2019 Outstanding Seniors here.