Four Seniors Rise to the Top

Foster Cowan, Editor

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Sakshi Sehgal

by Oliver Hurst and Foster Cowan

After years of hard work and dedication to learning, four seniors have been recognized as this years valedictorians and salutatorians: Sakshi Sehgal and Aminur Ali as valedictorians and Brian Kang and Khawla Nirjhar as salutatorians. Although these four have excelled throughout their high school careers, many of them were still surprised when their name was announced over the loudspeaker.
“I never expected or even hoped that I would get valedictorian,” said Ali. “I just minded my business and went through [high school] one leg at a time.”
The honor also came as a surprise to Sehgal.
“I worked towards my goals with everything in me,” said Sehgal, “but also understood the level of competition for the top positions in a class, so I wouldn’t say [valedictorian] is something I really expected as an underclassmen.”
On their journey to be valedictorian or salutatorian, these students were helped by a variety of family members and peers.

Aminur Ali

“I feel like over the years I have had so many amazing teachers and mentors who put in the extra time to help me with anything that I needed help with,” said Nirjhar.
For each of the seniors, the recognition meant something different.
“It’s definitely a huge testament to the hardest times in high school, particularly those that didn’t relate to academics,” said Sehgal. “To have overcome those other challenges and be rewarded this way is truly very humbling, and I feel really grateful for the opportunities I have been afforded.”
Although receiving valedictorian meant a lot to Ali, he still felt as though there were other people who deserved it just as much as he did.
“Being [valedictorian] is [only] a title to me personally, just because I happened to have the highest GPA in my class, and I know for sure everyone else has worked just as hard as me or even more,” said Ali. “Nevertheless it’s the culmination of my efforts and the efforts of the people that have supported me.”
Despite the fact that all of them worked hard throughout their time at Chamblee Charter High School, none of them were consciously aware that the classes they were taking were helping them on their path to valedictorian or salutatorian.

Brian Kang

“I chose classes that best fitted my interests,” said Kang, “which coincidentally coincided with classes that gave me a significant boost in my GPA.”
Nirjhar decided to take classes that were new to her or expanded her interests.
“I chose classes more like ‘oh, I have never tried something like this, let me try it and see how it goes,’ or ‘this is something I really enjoy, let me try to take the AP version of it,’” said Nirjhar.
When offering advice for future valedictorian and salutatorian hopefuls, some honorees echoed the sentiment of not taking classes just for the GPA boost.
“Honestly, I would say do not get stressed about [becoming valedictorian/salutatorian] that much,” said Nirjhar. “Just enjoy what you are doing and you never know, you might end up being the valedictorian or salutatorian.”
On the other hand, other honorees stressed the importance of staying driven and focused in order to achieve your goals.
“Given the level of competition and number of really amazingly talented students here at Chamblee, it’s really important to stay focused to reach your goal at the end,” said Sehgal. “Most importantly, I would say it’s undying motivation that will get you to what you want to accomplish.”
Sehgal will be attending the University of Pennsylvania in the fall, and has big plans for college and the future.
“I’m interested in the intersection of government and healthcare on a global scale and hope to perhaps one day work in healthcare policy or leadership,” she said. “I definitely intend on continuing with German, as well as exploring these areas, in college.”
One of the deciding factors in choosing a college for Kang, who has committed to Princeton University, was the distinctive opportunities for undergraduate students there.

Khawla Nirjhar

“Since Princeton has such a meager graduate presence, there are some unique opportunities for undergraduates that many other colleges just cannot afford to provide for free,” he said.
Nirjhar, who will be attending Emory University, has felt a real connection to the school since she was younger, leading to an increased interest that eventually helped her get accepted.
“ One of the reasons [I chose Emory] is because ever since I was a kid I have always wanted to go there,” she said. “I also had a chance to meet some of the students there and they are amazing. I just feel like I belong there.”
Lastly, Ali committed to the University of Georgia. There were many important factors that led to the decision, including location and the offered majors.
“I want to major in MIS [Management Information System] and UGA has hands down one of the best programs in the state, so it was a more obvious choice [for] me,” he said. “Another reason why I wanted to go to UGA is because it is relatively close to home. My family is very large with my four siblings as well as myself, so I want to have the ability to go back if there’s any emergency back home or if I have any problems while at college.”
Before they can attend these universities, the seniors have to prepare a speech for the graduation ceremony on May 21.
“I’m really, really honored to be able to give a speech and do somewhat of a final farewell to my classmates and the school,” said Sehgal. “Honestly, I haven’t begun working on it yet, but will do so soon!”