2013 Valedictorian and Salutatorian Selected

HTML tutorial

Anila Thomas, Valedictorian

by Magdalena Grabos

Anila Thomas
Valedictorian for the Class of 2013. Photo by Sahi Thapi.

The title of valedictorian for the Class of 2013 has been conferred to Anila Thomas, who invested much time and effort into achieving this accolade for academic excellence.

In a school like Townsend Harris, where many students desire this scholarly recognition, Anila said she was surprised that she was the one to receive this honor.

“I did not expect to become valedictorian because there are other hardworking students that I believed could be valedictorian. A fourth of me is still in disbelief,” she commented.

Next fall, she will continue her studies at the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY Hunter, where she will major in psychology with a focus on neuroscience.

“I have not set my mind on a career yet, but I know I want to explore research regarding neurodegenerative diseases,” she said.

During her years at Townsend Harris, Anila spent a lot of time on outside projects. She had a science research mentor at the Queens College Physics Department,  whom she worked with to finish an urban planning project.

Likewise, she also volunteered at Mark Weprin’s District Office, which was initially a class requirement that turned into what she considered to be a rewarding experience.

Like many of the seniors in the graduating class, Anila has “mixed feelings” about leaving Townsend.

“Some of [my friends] are going to college in New York City and the others are going out of state. I will miss them since I can’t see them as frequently as our high school setting allowed us, but I am excited to meet the extraordinary people at Macaulay.”

Although Anila has worked hard  during the last four years, she also learned that every now and then she has to make time to relax.

“Over my high school career with my friends asking to hang out and me listening to my need to rest, I made sure to be less strict with myself. I grew to know when to close the textbook, sleep, or just hang out with the people I love,” she explained.

She will give her farewell speech to her peers during the graduation ceremony, leading the senior class as they all close one chapter of their lives and start new ones.

Salutatorian Fatima Koli reflects on her time at THHS

by Suswana Chowdhury

Salutatorian for the Class of 2013.  Photo by Sahi Thapi
Salutatorian for the Class of 2013. Photo by Sahi Thapi.

Fatima Koli, salutatorian of class of 2013, plans to study biology in Barnard College, an all-girls liberal arts and sciences school affiliated with Columbia University.  She hopes to enroll in medical school afterwards.

She says, however, that her future is not set in stone.

“When I first came to Townsend, I really had no idea what I wanted to be and even now, I have a feeling that I may change my mind in college. But taking Science Research here at Townsend made me realize that even if I didn’t become a doctor, I would always want to stay connected to the medical field, which can be done through research. So even if I choose another career, I know I will still volunteer at a lab to learn more about the scientific world that still confuses us.”

Barnard College is a comparatively small college with approximately 2,400 students, but it’s this small setting that attracted Fatima.

“At Barnard, I can have all the opportunities that a large and prestigious university like Columbia offers without losing out on the small school setting I’ve always wanted,” said Fatima.

The small school setting is one Fatima first found at Townsend Harris, which she fell in love with. She said that if it weren’t for THHS, she “would probably never have considered going to a small liberal arts college.”

In addition to the small setting, THHS also gave Fatima “the opportunity to really enhance [her] leadership skills.”

“Being Co-President of MSA showed me how much potential I had as a leader. The MSA here is not as well-developed or as big as other MSAs in the city (such as Bronx Science’s or Brooklyn Tech’s), but that’s what has made it so worthwhile. Every improvement we make in our MSA in order to become one of the best in the city gives me a satisfaction like no other. I don’t think I can ever appreciate Townsend Harris enough for giving me such an amazing club to be passionate about.”

Fatima attributes her success to her parents, friends, and two specific faculty members: Assistant Principal Ellen Fee and Science teacher Katherine Cooper. “All of these people were always there for me and if it wasn’t for their help and encouragement, I would have succumbed to the easier path of slacking and would have given up.”