For Valley Stream Central High School senior class president Natisha Gangapersaud, last Friday’s senior prom at Leonard’s Pilazzo of Great Neck was about more than limo rides and a fancy dress. It was also a time to reflect on how far she has come since the untimely death this past year of her father, Krisindat Gangapersaud.
He died just days before her 17th birthday, leaving her to take on more responsibility working at her mother’s store. Although she initially struggled to balance her work and school lives, she said she made a promise to maintain her grades and make her father proud.
“I really tried to focus my energy into something good, rather than take the wrong path in life because I know for a lot of people it isn’t something easy to deal with,” she said. “And a lot of times I don’t know what I’m supposed to do and what to do next. My mom and my whole family motivate me.”
Fast forward to the present, and Gangapersaud, 18, is a member of the National Honor Society and has maintained an above-90 average for her high school career despite her hardships.
She is an active member of several after-school clubs and community service groups, and is to go to St. John’s University in September to study biology on a pre-med track in the hopes of becoming a doctor, just like her father always wanted.
“Ever since I was little he would always say to me, ‘You’re going to take care of me when I’m older,’ and I would say, ‘Yeah dad, don’t worry,’ ” she said. “So I’m trying my hardest to go that way.”
Gangapersaud is not only a role model to her classmates, but an inspiration to the faculty at Valley Stream Central.
“If you ask any of the staff or the students, they have the utmost respect for her,” said Amy La Personerie, Gangapersaud’s guidance councilor and the senior class adviser. “She really is a student who amazes me. I’ve been in my job for 21 years, and I very rarely say a student amazes me, but she carries herself with such grace and dignity.”
When asked about it feels to finally have made it to senior prom after everything she’s been through, Gangapersaud said she has mixed emotions, especially since her father can’t be there with her to celebrate. But one thing is for sure – her father’s legacy will live on in her words and in her actions.
“Obviously I would have liked him to be at prom and to be at graduation, and I have the graduation speech that I have to give . . . but I know he’s still watching over me,” she said. “And I want to make him proud so I’m going to do my best just to keep going in the future and make a better [life] for myself.”