Newington High School’s top two graduates this year have a few things in common – they both happen to be first-generation American citizens and they’re both heading to the University of Connecticut in the fall.
Class of 2016 Valedictorian Isha Jinwala, 18, will begin her studies in physiology and neurobiology, and Salutatorian Johnny Sit, 18, will be studying computer science.
Jinwala, whose parents came from India, plans to move on to medical school after receiving her bachelor’s degree. She credits her top marks to a lot of hard work.
“I challenged myself with the classes I took. I had to put in a lot of effort.”
That included three Advanced-Placement courses her senior year, in western civilization, calculus and physics.
Sit, whose family is from China, hopes to someday be working for a technology or computer gaming company. He discovered a passion for gaming and computers during sophomore year of high school.
“I took a class in computer science and I liked it. It’s something I enjoy doing outside of school, too.”
Knowing of other like-minded students in his class, Sit founded an e-sports club at the school last year.
“It’s based on online, team-based gaming,” he explained.
The group now has almost 20 members.
Jinwala plays field hockey and lacrosse, is treasurer of the Student Council and a member of the school’s Kiwanis Key Club.
She enjoys volunteering in the community and both groups provide that opportunity. She also spent last summer giving her time at the Hospital of Central Connecticut.
In terms of staying ahead of their studies and pursuing their dreams, both seniors said they are self-motivated.
“I feel like it’s all on you,” Jinwala said. “If you take your life into your own hands and you want to do well you can make it happen.”
Sit’s parents work in the restaurant industry, but he wanted a different future for himself.
“I didn’t need them to tell me,” he said. “I wanted to succeed.”
He enjoys teaching himself about different subjects by watching educational videos.
“I like learning for the sake of learning,” said Sit, pointing out that procrastination is one of the biggest obstacles in the way of good grades.
“I see people way smarter than me and they just don’t try. If they put in the time and effort, they’d definitely be at the top.”
Newington High School’s Class of 2016 Commencement is scheduled for Friday, June 10, at 7 p.m. at the Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford.
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or firstname.lastname@example.org.