Patel earned a student leadership role and the title of Hiram High School’s 2014 valedictorian after attending the school in her junior and senior years.
She said she recalled in her junior years not expecting the valedictorian honor and only being concerned about keeping her grades high enough for acceptance into college.
“In my senior year, I got more excited about it,” she said.
Patel, 18, is a native of India and was among the last in her extended family to move to the U.S., she recalled. Her family moved from India to Perry, Ga., in 2008, and to Hiram in 2012.
She speaks five languages, including Hindi, which is what she speaks at home with parents Prakash and Harshiba Patel.
She said she plans to attend the University of Georgia in the fall and major in biology. She wants to go into a dental-related profession, such as orthodontics, she said.
She said her life at the school has been a “remarkable pleasure,” noting she has enjoyed meeting her fellow students.
“I like people’s personalities,” Patel said.
“People are so motivated here. They’re also competitive. It makes me competitive, too.”
Her extracurricular involvement included membership in the National Beta Club, student government association and Spanish Honor Society.
GreyStone Power Corp. also selected Patel and four others in the company’s service area last summer for the annual Washington Youth Tour following a recommendation from school leaders and a top score on an exam about cooperatives and the history of rural electrification in the U.S.
Hiram Principal Jason Freeman said he felt Patel was unique because she was so humble despite being the top student in her class.
“She makes friends easily,” he said. “She doesn’t flaunt the fact she’s very intelligent.”
Patel also is service-oriented, Freeman said.
“She’s all about helping others,” he said. “I don’t think you could find anyone who said they did not like her.”
However, most Hiram students seek to help new students get acclimated to the school, he said.
“We have such great kids here,” Freeman said.