Conquering Goals: Class of 2023 Valedictorian Heads to Harvard


Raghav Ramki

Senior Shriya Bhat points at “finding big ideas” sign at the International Science and Engineering fair in Dallas on May 18.

An application packed with four years of academic programs, scientific research and various other accomplishments light up the screen as senior Shriya Bhat prepares to add in her newest achievement: the class of 2023’s valedictorian. 

“I just felt really grateful,” Bhat said. “Obviously we’ve all worked really hard in high school, and it’s just really nice to see all of that pay off. I think a lot of that just came from a lot of hard work and luck so I’m really honored and grateful to be in this position right now.”

After years of relentless hard work, microbiology research programs and science fairs, Bhat has been tirelessly aiming for the title of valedictorian. 

“I [knew] that Shriya wanted to be valedictorian and I was like ‘if there’s anyone who can be [valedictorian] it’s Shriya Bhat,’” senior Aditi Amin said. “When it was confirmed, I was really excited for her.”

Through library meet-ups and speech and debate tournaments, Bhat and Amin have been close friends since their freshman year.

“Shriya is just such an amazing person and everybody should have a friend like her,” Amin said. “She’s really helped me a lot; [she’s] edited all of my speeches. She puts in a lot of time to help me even though she already has so much on her plate because she just wants her friends [to] also succeed.”

Now that Bhat achieved her long-term goal of becoming valedictorian, she plans to continue working hard and further her research in cellular molecular biology and microbiology at Harvard. Bhat’s research centered on developing treatments to combat a sometimes harmful type of bacteria called biofilm

“[Biology’s] kind of my thing and I really enjoy [biology] research, so that’s definitely something I see as part of my future in college,” Bhat said. “Beyond that, I think my dream would be to practice as a physician-scientist in biology or cellular molecular.”

Although Bhat knew she wanted to be valedictorian, it wasn’t until midway through high school that she chose biology as her future career.

“No one really knows what they want to do with their life,” Bhat said. “I think I realized probably around [my] sophomore year when I started getting more into bio-research. That’s when I really realized that I really do enjoy working in a lab and even as tedious as it is, [I] think I could see myself doing this for many years to come.”

One of the many biology research programs Bhat engaged in is the Research Science Institute (RSI). The RSI is a merit-based program for high school students where students participate in a six-week program under the supervision of other scientists. Bhat’s program allowed her to work with a professor at Harvard medical school at MIT.

“I plan on attending a pre-freshman sort of orientation program which is just a really fun camping trip where you can really just bond with your peers,” Bhat said. “As for more academic pursuits, there’s a professor at [Harvard] that I’ve worked with for a year now so it would be really exciting if I could just continue working with him.”

While being Valedictorian was a large goal of hers, admission to Harvard was another significant achievement Bhat received. Starting in fall, Bhat will begin the undergraduate program at Harvard.

“Harvard’s [acceptance] hit the hardest just because it was early and [everyone was] just so nervous waiting for college decisions and it [was] during finals weeks as well so it’s just really stressful,” Bhat said. “There [was] a lot of elatement there. Lots of excitement, just really exciting to think [I’m] going to spend the next four years of my life there.”

Her achievements have all been celebrated by her family, friends and teachers.

“So much pride and not wanting to be too proud,” AP English teacher Lauren Thompson said. “You can tell this was something that she had really hoped for. I was just so happy for her and it seems like everyone else is as well.”

Thompson taught Bhat in both AP Language and AP Literature and watched her grow over the past two years.

“She [was] a pretty strong student consistently,” Thompson said. “I will say that, her grades aside, she’s also just a fantastic young lady. She’s very humble, very helpful [to] other students, and I have enjoyed having her in [my] class.”

Fellow senior Raghav Ramki has also known Bhat for two years.

“Shriya works harder than anyone else I know,” Ramki said. “I mean, she types on her laptop while walking the halls during passing periods to avoid wasting time. As I got to know her better, I learned that she’s kind, funny, and genuinely passionate about the things she does. She’s a fighter, and I find that really admirable.”