Saffanat Sumra was an NEHS student member of the Okura Chapter at West Covina High School in West Covina, CA, and was Chapter President for the 2018-2019 academic year. She graduated in 2019.
Saffy is adamant that the most important skill she learned as an NEHS member, and which she continues to apply in her daily life even today, was to communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing. Communication lies at the heart of her job at the University of California, San Francisco’s Office of Population Health & Accountable Care. There, she coordinates 49 interns from UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and City College of San Francisco and acts as a liaison between Healthcare Navigators and the interns, developing training workflows and managing intern expectations and schedules. As such, she is often engaged in both writing and presenting to very different groups of people.
She remembers being referred to NEHS by one of her high school English teachers who recommended that she try to make her creative writing more vivid. After a couple of sessions at Writing Center workshops, she knew that she wanted to be a part of NEHS and its supportive and nurturing community. Eventually, her grades started to improve and, more importantly, a task that she originally viewed as mundane and time consuming became a source of enjoyment.
She was first exposed to the art of teaching through Writing Center workshops when she began reviewing papers and offering feedback as an NEHS tutor. She attributes much of the ease she finds in administrative writing to the analytical and critical skills she acquired as an NEHS tutor.
The love for writing that Saffy developed in her pre-college year as an NEHS student member has been a driving force in helping her coalesce her interests in science and writing. She decided to begin writing for an online publication called Morning Sign Out, which explains complex scientific theories to the general public in simple language (read the article she wrote on the topic of Road Traffic Injuries and the COVID-19 Pandemic). Her love of writing also led her to develop a research project in which she argued for the importance of narrative medicine to physicians suffering with moral injury.
While Saffy appreciates the study of the human body through a microscopic lens, she is also interested in education because of seeing the impact the NEHS activities she organized and led, such as Dr. Seuss Day and Battle of the Books, had on the students around her. These galvanized her interest in developing pedagogical skills, which she hopes to put into practice in a future career in medicine.
Saffy graduated from West Covina High School in 2019. She is currently a Project Coordinator in the Office of Population Health & Accountable Care (OPHAC) at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. She is majoring in Molecular & Cell Biology, with an emphasis in Immunology & Molecular Medicine, and pursuing a minor in Education. Saffy will be applying to Medical Schools after graduation with the aim of pursuing a combination of pediatric and surgical medicine with an emphasis on community health.
Are you an NEHS alumni member? Consider submitting a blog to NEHS Museletter to share how you have been using the skills you developed as an NEHS member with current NEHS members.
National English Honor Society
The National English Honor Society (NEHS), founded and sponsored by Sigma Tau Delta, is the only international organization exclusively for secondary students and faculty who, in the field of English, merit special note for past and current accomplishments. Individual secondary schools are invited to petition for a local chapter, through which individuals may be inducted into Society membership. Immediate benefits of affiliation include academic recognition, scholarship and award eligibility, and opportunities for networking with others who share enthusiasm for, and accomplishment in, the language arts.
America’s first honor society was founded in 1776, but high school students didn’t have access to such organizations for another 150 years. Since then, high school honor societies have been developed in leadership, drama, journalism, French, Spanish, mathematics, the sciences, and in various other fields, but not in English. In 2005, National English Honor Society launched and has been growing steadily since, becoming one of the largest academic societies for secondary schools.
As Joyce Carol Oates writes, “This is the time for which we have been waiting.” Or perhaps it was Shakespeare: “Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer . . .” we celebrate English studies through NEHS.
National English Honor Society accepts submissions to our blog, NEHS Museletter, from all membership categories (students, Advisors, and alumni). If you are interested in submitting a blog, please read the Suggested Guidelines on our website. Email any questions and all submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.