Class of 2020 Valedictorians and Salutatorians

Indian Americans in the list of 2019 Valedictorians and salutatorians

Indian American students continue to earn high marks in high school with several on the growing list of Valedictorians/Salutatorians. Here is our Q and A with some local students.

Pooja Ghay – Valedictorian
Pooja Ghay - ValedictorianSchool Name: Olympia High School
City/State: Windermere, FL
GPA: 5.55
College: University of Florida.
Parents: Neetu Ghay Sudheer Ghay
Academic Awards: Received the Super Scholars Award for admission into Johns Hopkins University, The AP Scholar Award for an average score of 4 or higher on all AP exams, and the Valedictorian Award
Extracurricular Activities: Was a research assistant for a psychology lab, created a substance abuse intervention model for adolescents; was a bhangra dancer; president of Key Club for multiple years, raised money for UNICEF; placed 3rd at States for Science Olympiad in ‘Rocks and Minerals;’ volunteered at Orlando Health.
What job/position do you plan to pursue and why?: I hope to be a dermatologist one day. I’ve always loved the field of dermatology and the idea that topical creams and procedures could completely change your appearance. People only visit most fields of medicine because of a serious problem or because they have to. However, people scouts dermatologists because they want to feel and look better. I want to be able to do that for people.
What is your favorite quote?: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” Anais Nin
Which issue (global or local) is close to your heart, and why?: Solving the alcoholism and substance abuse epidemic is very dear to my heart. Growing up, many of my close family members were alcoholics and could not quit even if they tried. According to the World Health Organization, roughly 30% of India consume alcohol regularly. This is just one country out of 195 and my family is just one of many. I don’t want any more lives to be in shambles just because of one simple drink.
What is your little-known talent?: I’m a great baker, especially chocolate cakes.
Philip Parel – Valedictorian
Philip Parel - ValedictorianSchool Name: Suncoast High School
City/State: West Palm Beach, FL
GPA: 5.6025
College: George Washington University
Parents: Mathew Parel & Christy Parel
Academic Awards: National Merit Scholar Finalist AP Scholar Award, AP Scholar With Distinction Award, AP National Scholar Award 2x Student of the Month Palm Beach State College Presidential Award Received the 2018 Kovner Opportunity Scholarship Academic Games Placed 3rd in the State for Equations in 2018.
Extracurricular Activities: Mu Alpha Theta Honor Society. President in 2019, Vice-President in 2018, and Treasurer in 2017. Spanish Honor Society.President since 2018. National Honor Society.Treasurer in 2018
What job/position do you plan to pursue and why?: I know that my ultimate goal is to come back to Riviera Beach and offer orthopedic services to the community that raised me and target those that wouldn’t have been able to afford surgery otherwise. Then, if all goes well, I think I might like to be named surgeon general way, way down the road.
What is your favorite quote?: The happiest people in the world are those who make others happy
Which issue (global or local) is close to your heart, and why?: The signing of the Declaration of Independence because I respect the concept Founding Fathers who risked their lives for a greater good.
What is your little-known talent?: I am a huge DC Comics fan and Superman is my favorite superhero. DC is probably not the most popular, most people seem to like Marvel and they would say Superman is overpowered. My main argument is the fact (that) he is so powerful is (what) makes him so relatable. His is a moral dilemma because he must limit his own power in order to benefit others.
Shriya Patel – Valedictorian
Shriya Patel - ValedictorianSchool Name: Deerfield Beach High School
City/State: Parkland, FL
GPA: 5.5197
College: University of Miami.
Parents: Mintu and Hemant Patel
Academic Awards: National Merit Scholar, Sunshine State STEM Scholar, AP Scholar with Distinction, IB Diploma Candidate, Pompano Beach Exchange Club Student of the Month
Extracurricular Activities: National Speech and Debate Association, Mu Alpha Theta, National Honor Society.
What job/position do you plan to pursue and why?: I want to be a pediatric emergency room physician because I am passionate about the biological sciences, I love kids, and I have always wanted to help families in their times of need.
What is your favorite quote?: “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…” Theodore Roosevelt
Which issue (global or local) is close to your heart, and why?: One issue I believe needs to be addressed urgently is the financial accessibility of healthcare within the United States. I believe that no one should ever have to make the decision to avoid seeking medical help because they are afraid of the bills that they will have to pay if they do.
What is your little-known talent?: I am a saxophonist.
Athitheya Sai – Valedictorian
Athitheya Sai - ValedictorianSchool Name: Coral Springs High School
City/State: Coral Springs, FL
GPA: 5.28
College: University of Florida.
Parents: Suganya Gobinathan and Sathiamoorthy Gobinathan
Academic Awards: Coral Springs High Top STEM Student, National AP Scholar, National Merit Commended Scholar, District Literary Fair Award Winner, Perfect FSA scores 9th and 10th grade
Extracurricular Activities: Debate, Chess CLub, Mu Alpha Theta, Brain Brawl, School Duel, National Honor Society
What job/position do you plan to pursue and why?: Dermatologist because of the specific nature of the occupation.
What is your favorite quote?: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax” by Abraham Lincoln
Which issue (global or local) is close to your heart, and why?: Gun control is an issue that s very personal because of the tragedy that occured at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, a school that numerous friends attend and a school that is in close proximity to where I live
What is your little-known talent?: I make hip-hop instrumentals. You can check out my work at

Valedictorian and Salutatorian



Valedictorian and Salutatorian 2019

Philip Parel

George Washington University

Pooja Ghay

Olympia High School

Shriya Patel

Deerfield Beach High School

Athitheya Sai

University of Florida

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