Panthers of ISKL #136: Rika S. – The Tenacious Panther

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POISKL - Rika S Profile Picture

“Often we believe being selfless means giving yourself and your own needs up to support others, but if you are not in good condition, there is no way you can help others. While caring for others and making a difference is essential, we must know ourselves and our boundaries to do those things.”

Rika was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, before moving to Boston, then Malaysia joining ISKL in the fourth grade. An avid athlete in Soccer and Touch Rugby, Rika loves cooking and baking in her free time and plans to study in the US after she graduates!

Here is Rika’s story:


Do tell us more about yourself.

I’m half Japanese on my mom’s side and half Indian on my dad’s side, and I was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I lived for around six months before moving to Boston. I moved to Malaysia in 2011 at the age of five and joined ISKL in fourth grade.

Do you participate in any co-curricular activities at ISKL?

Yes! I participate in Varsity (IASAS) Football and Touch Rugby, as well as IASAS Strings. I have also participated in school productions, most notably the Addams Family musical last year. I am also involved in clubs at ISKL as the President of the ISKL Medics, a member of the Student Leadership Team (SLT), and an executive in Science for Kids.

POIKL Riks S in Music Class

Describe your most memorable moment at ISKL.

In my (almost) 7 years here, I’ve had countless memorable moments, but one that stands out to me is IASAS football, just this past October. After a relatively short season from August to early October, the tournament we hosted at home was a perfect conclusion. Because of Covid, this was the entire team’s first taste of an IASAS, and it was so much fun!

While playing was, of course, enjoyable, what took me by surprise was the time spent outside of playing. During our breaks, the team spent time together, either resting in the athlete resting area or supporting the boys’ team. And in these times, we became even closer than we did in the two months leading up to the tournament. The boys’ and girls’ teams also came together, bonding over our ISKL spirit and wanting to crush our rival IASAS schools. Seeing students show up to games and the overall mood on campus made me proud to be a student at ISKL. It’s a memory that I will never forget.

POISKL Rika S- Touch Rugby

What are your plans for after you graduate from ISKL?

I plan to return to the United States for university, hopefully somewhere cold, like the East Coast or the Midwest!

Can you tell us more about your other hobbies and interests?

My biggest hobby is cooking and baking! As someone from two countries with such solid culinary identities, cooking at home is something I’ve been doing for as long as I can remember. Most of my recipes have been passed down from my mom, who now doesn’t cook as much at home because I’m always in the kitchen.

Being in the kitchen is my favorite way of relieving stress. There’s something about taking raw ingredients and creating something delicious that calms me down and is satisfying. Another reason why I love cooking and baking so much is because I often do it for other people. Very rarely will I make something just for myself! When I cook for others, I feel excited because I get to make something for them, using my time and effort. When others appreciate my cooking, it’s the purest form of appreciation. It’s my favorite type of gift-giving, and I often opt for baked goods like cakes as birthday gifts for my closest friends.

Do you have any thoughts on your career pathway?

As of now, I’m set on entering university on the pre-med track. According to my parents, I’ve been telling people that I want to become a doctor since I was two years old, and while it has shifted around a bit, I am interested in pediatrics.

However, pursuing medicine in the United States is a long journey, so while I am confident I’ll end up working in a hospital ten years from now, I plan to keep my mind open to all opportunities that arise!

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?POISKL Rika S Christmas Celebration with Friends

I hope I remain confident enough to make the best decisions for me. I’m very stubborn, so once I make a decision or statement, I usually do everything in my power to follow through with that and persist, even if giving up may be the best decision.

Once I am in university, I can recognize what is best for myself, even if that means changing my major, or career path, as long as I keep myself in the best position possible.


Who or what inspires you or has influenced you?

My sister is the most inspirational person in my life! Hina is three years older than me, and she has always been someone to whom I can tell everything, whether that’s for advice, a laugh, or simply for someone to listen.

She inspires me because of her endless talent and intelligence, seen on the stages of ISKL and at the University of Chicago, where she is in her second year. As an eighth grader and then freshman during the years she completed the IB, I never understood how the IB was. I always saw my sister laughing and smiling, completing her work and participating in numerous extracurriculars.

In my second semester of the IB, it’s only now that I realize just how incredible that was. I strive to be like Hina in every aspect of my life, and she will remain my role model forever. To Hina, I love you. Thank you for being my sister!

What does ISKL’s Vision statement “Know yourself, care for all, and create a better world” mean to you?

To me, “know yourself” sticks out in this phrase, as it means understanding yourself is important if you want to help others and change the world. Often we believe being selfless means giving yourself and your own needs up to support others, but if you are not in good condition, there is no way you can help others. While caring for others and making a difference is essential, we must know ourselves and our boundaries to do those things.


Do you know of any student, teacher, parent, or staff who always have an anecdote to tell, love to share some insights into their passions and interest, or simply is a Panther through and through? Nominate them to be featured in our Panthers of ISKL stories by sending in your submissions here.

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