By Morgan Hume, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Most high schoolers spend their junior year shopping for prom attire and stressing about homework assignments. Adway Wadekar spent his time getting a study published in a scientific journal. Although he just wrapped up his junior year at Saint John’s High School in Shrewsbury, he is not the typical teenager.
“Almost everything about me is different,” said Wadekar, who is a resident of Westborough.
Wadekar spends his free time diving into research projects on different topics, like drug disorders in young people. He recently published a study in a major scientific journal, Drug and Alcohol Dependence which looks into if high school students’ addiction to drugs, among many factors, has a connection to their likelihood of developing addictions in adult life. While people his age may have assistance from a principal investigator or a mentor in their research, Wadekar is the sole author of the self-directed study. (www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0376871620300041)
“It’s interesting to study it because I’m the one that’s affected by it,” he said about the project. “My own friends and people that I associate with on a day-to-day basis are the ones who are being affected by drugs, so it’s personal.”
Wadekar has many interests, spanning from history, to quantitative social science, to mathematics. His passions appear to be all over the place, but he sees the way each subject connects.
“I’ve always been interested in various historical and political science types of things. But at the same time, being an Indian, coming from an Indian background, I’ve been groomed in the study of mathematics as well,” said Wadekar. “I’ve always sought to combine those two together.”
He’s also interested in journalism and has written for the Community Advocate since he was in eighth grade. He said he wants to explore journalism as a way to soften the divide between the scientific community and everyday people by making complex information and jargon more comprehensible.
“I want to find a way to break that gap between the general public and people who are creating new knowledge by doing research,” he said.
He was also accepted this year into the New England High School Journalism Collaborative Summer Workshop, where he wrote about first amendment issues and disparities in education in age of the coronavirus.
He enjoys exploring with his camera as well. That, combined with his interest in history, earned him his current position as the photographer in residence for the town of Westborough. Every year, the town appoints someone to document the area with photos. Wadekar is basing this ongoing historical project on photographing Westborough through the eyes of children.
At Saint John’s High School, he has a busy course load of Advanced Placement classes and he works hard to prepare for exams at the end of the year. But outside of school hours, he is the president and captain of his high school mock trial team. He helps his classmates maintain their winning streak, since the team hasn’t lost a regular season trial in the last few years.
He said his success would not have been possible without a solid support system, especially from his parents, who have done everything from drive him places he needs to go, to giving him advice on the publication process of his study. Both his parents have earned doctoral degrees and Wadekar hopes to earn one someday himself in a quantitative social science, perhaps economics.
“The sacrifices they’ve made for the opportunities that I’ve been able to pursue, it’s just incredible,” said Wadekar. “I owe everything to them.”
With all this experience, Wadekar has many options for his future, but he sees himself in an academic setting so he can continue research projects. His mother is a professor at University of Connecticut and he would like to follow a similar path.
For now, he has another year of high school left to finish, which he hopes to enjoy. His college plans are still undecided, but he knows he has plenty of time to plan for the future. And wherever this self-described “atypical” young man goes, he is sure to find continued success.