#Leadership: Jack Kothari ’20
Slowing down is not easy for Jack Kothari ’20. As vice president of the senior class, a prefect in Main Hall, co-president of Green Team, and co-editor of the Arts and Culture section of the Mercersburg News, Kothari admits that his biggest fear is leisure time. “I find my harmony amid the chaos,” he says, noting many items remain on his Mercersburg bucket list. “I just want to treasure the time I have left in this sacred place.”
Kothari, who was born and raised in Hagerstown, Maryland, is a four-year senior. He spent his first two years as a day student before he transitioned to boarding as an upper-middler. Although he has always been deeply involved in life at Mercersburg Academy, Kothari’s perspective changed when he started living on campus. “Much of the color and spirit of what Mercersburg represents happens in the time that is not scheduled,” he explains.
One of these colorful moments occurred at 1:30 a.m. during the second week of classes. Kothari heard chants and screams in the hallway quickly followed by a frantic knock on his door. When he answered, Kothari discovered that his dormmates were seeking his help because the urinal was overflowing. His role as a Main Hall prefect had officially begun. “I tried to calm everyone down the best that I could,” he laughs as he reminisces on his initiation into the leadership role.
Outside of the dorm, Kothari is a talented swimmer and a skilled lacrosse player; however, his decision to divide his time between the two sports is not about athletics. He chose to play lacrosse in the spring after being in the pool in the fall and winter for one simple reason: he wanted to expand his circle of friends.
His commitment to meeting new people and serving others in the community does not go unnoticed. At Convocation in September, Head of School Katie Titus presented Kothari with the Robert H. Michelet ’30 Prize. The Michelet Prize is awarded to the student who most distinguishes himself or herself in scholarship, character, and school spirit during the upper-middler year.
“What warmed my heart the most about this award was that it represents what is important to me outside of the classroom,” Kothari says. “My mom always reminds me that eulogy qualities, not resume qualities, are what matter most.”
Prioritizing loyalty, compassion, and service, Kothari is determined to make his mother’s words of wisdom his personal mantra. “My first three years were focused on academic goals,” Kothari admits. “This year my largest contributions to the school won’t be captured on paper.”
Kothari decided he wanted his senior year to be different during a trip overseas this past summer. As part of the MAPS program (Mercersburg’s Advanced Program for Global Studies), Kothari visited India to research the changing political landscape. Kothari, whose father was born in India, met with family during his stay in addition to his studies. “It was the merging of the personal and the academic that made the trip so special. It was beyond what I could have imagined.”
Constantly pushing himself outside of his comfort zone, Kothari is unafraid to dive into the unknown. “The best way to learn about yourself is to go to a place that is completely foreign,” he suggests. “You quickly discover what is important to you.”
Although he is unsure of how his life beyond Mercersburg will unfold, Kothari knows for certain what he will carry with him after he graduates. “Mercersburg has taught me how to walk humbly, care deeply, laugh frequently, and act with integrity and grace,” Kothari says. “This community has shown me what it means to love and support one another, to build much needed bridges, and to be a part of something far greater than myself.”
Editor’s Note: Jack Kothari ’20 is one of several Mercersburg community members featured in the Winter 2020 issue of Mercersburg Academy magazine. To meet other members of the Mercersburg community and enjoy all the content of this issue, visit mercersburg.edu/magazine.