DOWNINGTOWN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "If there's anything I've learned through my high school experience, it's that I think I'm able to persevere through challenges and achieve my goals while also maintaining, like, a healthy and enjoyable life," said 17-year-old Ajay Macherla.
Macherla, a 12th-grade student at Downingtown S.T.E.M. Academy, says he was not always the motivated workaholic he is today.
"I wouldn't really say I was the best student. Didn't really spend time with my family. Just kind of focused on myself," he said. "And I felt like that's not really what I wanted to do. I wanted to improve myself and spend the rest of my life helping other people."
At age 14, Macherla got invested in reading self-help books and watching motivational speakers on YouTube. This fueled the can-do attitude that eventually inspired him to write a book of his own.
Published earlier this year and now available on Amazon, "From High Schooler to High Schooler" promulgates four pillars of success: mindset, skillset, relationships, and health. Macherla networked with others online and conducted about 30 interviews with students across the globe, ranging from New York to Malaysia.
"The strategies that I share in my book is very applicable to high school students," he said, "Especially now going through virtual school, getting back into school and kind of having to relearn some of the things that they lost over the pandemic."
The faculty at Downingtown S.T.E.M. Academy says Ajay is just one example among the exemplary student body consisting of more than 900 individuals.
"It's such a great story. So humble. Not everybody in the school knew that he had written a book," said Susan Boardman, the Internships and Partnerships Leader. "What Ajay was really talking about as well was a growth mindset. And we practice that every day."
Opened in 2011, Downingtown S.T.E.M. Academy is the third high school in the area. Students have a choice of enrolling after middle school. As they grow, they are given opportunities to have real-world experience.
"Students do pick a pathway, which is an area of interest to be able to just check out a little bit what the work world looks like," said Boardman. "So, it might be Intro to Engineering, Intro to Biotech, and so, the career piece is really pushed here and supported here to give them experience before they leave the STEM Academy."
Ajay Macherla has used that experience to pursue his interest in medicine.
"I plan to one day work in the medical field as a physician and I think I want to carry that same message when I interact with people in that field," he said about the core tenets in his book.