Though Munshi and Reddy Mallu, the valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively — both with 4.0 grade point averages that differed by tenths of a point — have had differing paths to academic success, both admit grit, perseverance and persistence aided them in their high school journeys.
For Munshi, overcoming the hurdle of being a new student at Westlake her sophomore year was significant.
“Transitioning was difficult for me,” she said. “I joined the esteemed math and science magnet program at Westlake and never before had my schedule been so rigorous.”
Munshi said a slew of extra classes were required along with higher expectations, but she adjusted, with the help of her supportive parents and new friends.
“My mother is a teacher, so I know how much effort teachers constantly put into their work,” she said. “It is this appreciation for learning that I credit my success. Most people see school as a route to get to their destination. I see learning as a constant companion along the journey.”
Reddy Mallu, who describes himself as a “loving son, a mischievous younger brother and a devoted scholar,” mentioned two secrets to his academic success: doing work early and paying attention in class.
“Doing work early helps to get rid of laziness and anxiety of doing things at the last minute,” he said. “Paying attention in class helps to save time of having to relearn or review the material in depth again at home.”
Although Reddy Mallu said his four years at the school have been equally challenging, shouldering advanced placement classes have easily been the most difficult for him.
“Taking five advanced placement classes during my senior year has been the hardest,” he said. “Even though the classes themselves have been hard, the most difficult part of the school year was May 13 when I had to take both the advanced placement biology and physics tests back to back.”
Despite the ups and downs, feelings of defeat and tiresome moments that being a top student can bring, both also remained grounded with familial support.
While Reddy Mallu encouraged rising seniors to stay focused, Munshi emphasized the importance of keeping authenticity.
“I have learned that you have to stay true to what you believe in no matter what,” she said.
Reddy Mallu will attend the University of Georgia in the fall and major in biology.
Munshi will attend Georgia Tech in the fall and major in biomedical engineering.