Former Student Profile - Savita Kalhan, Class of 1982
We look forward to welcoming Savita Kalhan back to school as a Year 9 Inspire and Career Talk speaker on Tuesday 3 December.
What years did you attend WHS? 1974-1982
What did you get up to at WHS in terms of study and extracurricular activities?
I did nine O Levels and three A Levels. I was a prefect, and I was awarded the Silver Fish award for service to the school, which I remember being very proud to receive.
I was involved in doing the lighting for all the school plays, which I absolutely loved. I wasn’t allowed to do many extracurricular activities unless they were education-based.
Figure 1 Year 4 Class Photo
Do you have any fond memories you’d like to share?
I have very fond memories of the school in general, with the Sixth Form being my favourite time there. I loved that we had our own Sixth Form block, with its own library, common room, canteen and study areas. We were treated more like young adults too, which was great preparation for university.
I have to say that the open-air swimming pool was always a challenge – particularly in early Autumn. I remember struggling to swim through lots of half-dead crane flies! That’s something I don’t miss.
With two of my classmates, Amanda Fredericks and Rachel Sleet, we wrote and directed a play for a group of Second Years while we were in the Sixth Form. I remember it was a great initiative and we and the Second Years had great fun.
Figure 2 Savita with Year 2 Performers
What did you do after school?
Being the eldest of seven with both parents working, there was a lot of childminding and cooking involved! Reading was, and still is, very much a passion, and so the school library and the town library were places I would spend as much time as possible. I think being a passionate reader has stood me in good stead considering my profession now.
If you went to Uni where did you go and why did you choose it?
I went to Aberystwyth University in Wales. After a visit to the university for the open day, I fell in love with it. I wanted to live on the seafront with a view of the sea. My degree course was very flexible too – it involved taking five subjects in the first year, from which you could choose one or two to carry on with. So although I initially applied to Aberystwyth to study Accounting and Law, I actually graduated with a degree in Politics and Philosophy!
What are you up to now?
I am a children’s writer, writing for teenagers and young adults. My latest teen title, That Asian Kid, was published in August 2019. It has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal. The Girl in the Broken Mirror was published by Troika Books in May 2018, and was also nominated for the Carnegie Medal 2019.
My debut novel, The Long Weekend, was first published in 2008 by Andersen Press and won the Fab Book Award. It will be republished with a new cover in 2020.
I give author talks and run creative writing classes for schools, and I am invited to speak at literary festivals and conferences. I have also been running a very enthusiastic teen reading group at my local library and won the Volunteer of the Year Award for the London Borough of Barnet for services to children.
What do you know now that you didn’t in Year 13 that you’d like to share with current students?
It’s great if you know what you want to do after school, but if you are still undecided or don’t get the grades you need to get don’t panic about it or be disheartened. There are always other options and opportunities open to you. Explore them and be open to all the different possibilities.
I had no idea when I was in the Upper Sixth (Year 13) that I might one day become a writer. So whatever you decide to do after school, remember that nothing is set in stone.
Students can find out more about Savita on her website www.savitakalhan.com and follow her on Twitter @savitakalhan.
Personally signed copies of Savita’s books will be available to purchase at a special discount of £6.50 after the networking session and over lunch in the Hall. If your daughter would like to buy any of the books, please send her in with the correct money, or a cheque made payable to “Savita Kalhan”.