Humble beginnings to a bright future: How Ariya Dharni’s work ethic is paying off

Humble beginnings to a bright future: How Ariya Dharni’s work ethic is paying off

Jorie Allison, Broadcast Manager

She sits at her desk in AP Bio, zoned into a worksheet, pouring all of her energy, focus and motivation into today’s work. Reaching for a yellow colored pencil, her eyes are locked onto her task at hand and nothing can pull her away from it and her detailed plan for this assignment. A classmate leans over, nudging her to ask a question. Without looking up, she responds, You cannot talk to me right now because I need to finish this. Her classmate thinks to herself, Ma’am, we are literally coloring butterflies. As she works, studies and perfects, she remembers who she is putting all of this work for in the first place. 

Ariya Dharni is more than your average dedicated student. Her motivation to achieve is as strong as her compassion for her friends, her family and her faith. Those who know her are familiar with her soft-spoken voice and her attitude ready to get things done. 

“I grew up with a single mom, that definitely had an impact on who I am. I’ve seen her work really hard. She got her college degree as I was in elementary school and up towards middle school; that gave me a good role model or example of something that I wanted to work towards, seeing her work ethic and how hard she worked made a big difference on how hard I will work,” Dharni said. 

Dharni takes the root of her work to heart. Her father immigrated to America and her mother tackled two jobs while trying to reach her high school diploma. With her mother never losing steam despite constantly working hard for her own degree, and making sure her children achieved their dreams too, Dharni’s role-model is a no-brainer. 

Her mother, a hard worker herself, found herself staying up until midnight studying and writing papers, but would still cook dinner ever single night and make sure that her daughters had everything that they needed.

“One thing she always instilled in us was goal setting and holding yourself to high standards, because she held us to very high standards,” Dharni said.

Looking ahead to a life of high standards that highly resemble her mother’s, Dharni always has a mental checklist for her goals. Even if it’s coloring in butterflies. 

Okay, this is what I want to go do or this is what I want to achieve, how can I get there? What are the practical steps I need in order to achieve that?’ I think she set a good example for me,” Dharni said.

Dharni’s friends and family admire her constant motivation, whether it be her academics, track or her faith. Close friend, Sophie Horn, can recall many times when her sportsmanship has shined through, no matter the day. 

“She’s always been super determined to do things. For one, to kind of impress her family and her parents because she’s always wanted to make them proud. She will literally go out of her way to finish things. Like, she will stay up until like 2 AM to study for a test the next day, and she’s the type of person that gets really sad if she gets a B on a test,” Horn said. 

Although her passion and strong work ethic shine everywhere, Dharni’s motivation in her academics has had a lasting impact on her teachers along the way of her high school career. English teacher Katie Isaacs can remember story after story of Dharni’s efforts reflecting in class even during her first year of high school.

“Ariya, in my 16 years of teaching, is by far one of the students who will always stand out to me as being the most driven, the most dependable, the most dedicated. She was mature and her thoughts and her goals from the moment I met her when she was 14. She knew what she wanted. She knew that her dreams were big and ambitious, but always knew what she was capable of achieving. I think that one of my biggest joys in watching Ariya for the past four years is seeing her continue to grow into the confidence of knowing what she’s capable of doing,” Isaacs said.

Isaacs continued to admire Dharni’s work ethic even during the COVID-19 shutdown. Although classes had switched to being online and most students had tuned out of their Zoom classes, Dharni never stepped foot away from her task at hand, as if the switch had never happened.

“We would make appointments to where just her and I would Zoom after class if she needed extra help with an assignment. No other student requested that. We would give office hours, and I would still have no appointments outside of Ariya. She never missed an appointment,” Isaacs said. 

Dharni is not only a leader to her peers, but to her younger siblings as well. Dharni’s siblings made their own guest appearances in her Zoom classes, making the connection between her and her teachers even stronger.

“Ariya’s little sister Mila is about the same age as my daughter. Mila is in love with her big sister. And when Ariya would be working in her room and zooming, Mila was having major FOMO and wanted to be a part of it,” Isaacs said. 

Isaacs remembers that Mila was prone to peeking in, tapping around and coming to visit Dharni as she was zooming into her English class. Isaacs would notice her, and after enough pleading, Mila would be invited to the class too. As Dharni would work with Mila on her lap, so was her sister, encompassed in coloring books, puzzles and toys, quiet and focused just like her. 

“Just seeing her ability to multitask in the way that she does, is so beyond the realm of, you know, what a typical freshman, sophomore, junior, even senior could do. She is able to just, encompass everything that is inevitably going to drive her success in the future,” Isaacs said.

Dharni’s big dreams and strong ethics have lead her to her next step in life, applying for her dream school, Pepperdine, after a memorable conversation with her mom and their shared dedication for success. 

“Recently I applied to my dream school. When I was applying to it, I was like, ‘This is out of reach for me.’ It’s kind of selective. A lot of the people there are extremely wealthy and I just didn’t feel like I grew up in that specific setting. But my mom was like, ‘Just try it. Apply, and we’ll see if you get in and we can go from there,’ Dharni said. “I applied, I got in, and visited over spring break; and I recently just committed last night. I think that’s a goal that I set for myself. I needed a fair amount of push to get there just because my confidence wasn’t there yet, but that’s a goal.”

Dharni wants to get a degree in biology and work in healthcare. She says another goal of hers is to find herself good opportunities, and find local doctors and healthcare workers to shadow. 

“I don’t think that people understand the reasoning behind my work ethic, I work hard because they didn’t have those opportunities. So if I have those resources, and I have the teachers and people who care about me and are willing to put in the effort, I should reciprocate that and not let that pass me by just because I don’t feel like doing something,” Dharni said.