This week saw the close of classes, the beginning of summer and recognition for some of the highest-achieving students in the county.
In Antioch, Dozier-Libbey Medical High School named three students for their academic achievements: Jewelina Culcasi, Seenam Shah and Aliha Mughal.
Tied with Seenam for the title of valedictorian, Jewelina earned a cumulative GPA of 4.3 for all four years of high school. A runner, she participated in cross-country and track for her freshman year and made the varsity cross-country team by the time she was a sophomore. Jewelina said she resurrected the Interact Club this last year, also serving as the club’s president. The group would help the community by picking up trash and volunteering to help at elementary school fall celebrations and various Rotary Club of the Delta events.
An involved community member, Jewelina further organized fellow students to serve the Salvation Army and helped with chamber galas. She also gave her time to students in need of tutoring for AP calculus, precalculus, algebra and geometry. And she participated in leadership at Golden Hills Community Church.
Jewelina identified her favorite classes at Dozier-Libbey as AP calculus, honors chemistry, physics and physiology, which all helped her choose a major in engineering. She said the teachers who made the greatest impact on her education were Mr. Young, Mrs. Peters, Mrs. Angus and Mrs. Varner.
“I feel elated that I have reached my goal and that my hard work has paid off,” Jewelina said. “I credit my parents and my family for aiding me in my success, by supporting this goal of mine and for their prayers, but most importantly, I credit my relationship with Jesus Christ sustaining me these past four years.”
She will attend Texas A&M, majoring in chemical engineering, and join the Corps of Cadets.
“We are very proud of Jewelina,” said her parents, Steve and Lisa Culcasi. “This has been her goal, and she has worked very hard from the day she came to us, before her freshman year, and said, ‘I would like to have a family meeting.’ We sat down and she told us that she wanted to be valedictorian of Dozier-Libbey Medical High School – the Class of 2019. We told her that we would support her in any way possible. We didn’t have to do much as parents, as she has displayed a work ethic that has surpassed both of us, combined!”
Dozier-Libbey’s salutatorian, Aliha, earned a cumulative, weighted GPA of 4.1984. She was a member of her school’s color guard and winter guard, in addition to serving as her senior class’s co-president. She was also a part of Key Club and represented her class in HOSA, an international student organization for future health professionals. Highly involved in her community, Aliha volunteered at her mosque and also tutored and helped with various service events.
AP biology with Mr. Young and medical ethics with Mr. Libbey were among her favorite classes and teachers. As someone who plans to study biology in college and work in the healthcare field, Aliha found both topics impactful and captivating.
“I am truly honored to have been named salutatorian, but I honestly would not have accomplished this without the support of those around me,” said Aliha. “I credit my success to the help of my family and friends. My friends are such passionate and dedicated individuals, and they inspire me to succeed and be my authentic self. My family has always supported me with everything, helping me with my academic endeavors and all my extracurriculars. My mom especially, as she’s a huge inspiration. She immigrated here from Cambodia, and it’s her sacrifices that have allowed me to have the success that I have today. I’d also have to give some credit to my cat, Amelia, who is always there to help me de-stress after a long day.”
Aliha will attend Princeton University in the fall, with plans to study molecular biology on a pre-med track. She’s also interested in a certification in global health and health policy, or environmental studies.
“There is no word to describe how happy I am to have a wonderful daughter like Aliha who makes a difference in the world,” said her mother, Synary Be. “May her new journey to Princeton be filled with adventures and surprises. I wish Aliha the best of luck on her new chapter to college and future career. May all Aliha’s dreams come true!”
Her father, Tabarak Mughal, expressed his pride as well.
“I wish her the best of luck on her new chapter at college, and future career,” Tabarak said. “Aliha is a very humble, focused, intelligent, caring and hardworking girl who has always kept a balance between her academic, social and family life. We are blessed to have her as a daughter, and thank God for bringing her to us. I wish her the greatest success in her career and life.”
Seenam Shah could not be reached as of press time.