A chat with area valedictorians


Each with a personality and study techniques of their own, these ladies and gentlemen at top of their classes talked with us about their academic passions and the fun amidst their intense studies. The strongest thread among the five? How much they’ll miss their friendships, many of which they’ve had since elementary school, as they head out in pursuit of their dreams. We at 280 Living wish all of the Class of 2011 congratulations and best wishes in their future endeavors!

Marie Tucker

Briarwood Christian School
GPA: 4.76
School Involvements: Mu Alpha Theta, National Honors Society, National Society of High School Scholars, Varsity Basketball, Varsity Soccer
Hobbies: Reading, art, hanging with friends
Favorite class: Latin I, II and III
Most challenging class: AP English
College plans: The Lord made it very clear through different people and situations that the University of Alabama is where I am to be. I am considering going into medicine to be a doctor. I went on medical mission trips to Nicaragua and Guatemala, and it sparked my interest to help people physically and spiritually.
Credit for academic success: I credit the Lord God completely for the academic success and give him all of the glory because he has given me the strength and perseverance to accomplish what I have done.
Favorite memory from high school: Dr. Leonard’s Bible class. He challenged my understanding of the Word of God and set before me ways to understand the Bible in a manner I had never known.
Favorite cartoon character: Bugs Bunny

Emily Lin
Spain Park High School
GPA: 4.58
School Involvements: Swim and Diving Team, National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta. I have been swimming competitively since I was 8 years old. I now swim about 21 hours a week, not including dry lands, and have qualified for Southeastern Shortcourse Championship every year. For the high school team, I have always qualified for state and have placed in freestyle events the past two years.
Hobbies: Reading adventure and fantasy books, playing piano, hanging out with friends, watching movies
Favorite class: AP US History
Most challenging class: AP Chemistry and AP Calculus BC
College plans: UC-Berkeley. My major is undecided right now, but the school is really good in many areas and will allow me to explore lots of things. I am interested in the science fields and possibly business.
Motivation in studies: My sisters, my parents and myself. My two older sisters did extremely well in school. It’s been what’s expected of me to motivate myself to meet my goals. If you tell yourself you can keep going, you can meet your goals.
Favorite memory from high school: Relaxing when I hang out with friends at lunch or talk during free time in class.
Quirky habit: I love eating fruit at lunch, and my friends make fun of me for that.

Neil Tiwari*
Oak Mountain High School
GPA: 4.45
School Involvements: Math Team, Scholar’s Bowl, Debate Team, Key Club
Hobbies: Doing things with friends, reading fantasy books or nonfiction
Favorite class: AP Chemistry
Most challenging class: AP Latin
College plans: Auburn University. I am planning to major in chemical engineering and will hopefully go to medical school after that. We’ll see after I take a few classes.
Motivation in studies: My brother, Amar, was valedictorian in 2005. I was trying to match up to him. My friends in middle school and I were always trying to one-up each other.
Favorite memory from high school: At Latin conventions, it’s a bunch of guys in a hotel room way past midnight—we do a lot of really crazy things.
Quirky habit: I always carry a stress ball because gives me something to do when I’m bored. I get it out every class period.

Ameen Barghi*
Oak Mountain High School
GPA: 4.45
School Involvements: Math Team, Debate Team, Scholar’s Bowl, National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Junior Classical League, National Latin Honor Society, Key Club
Hobbies: Playing Call of Duty and Halo on Xbox, playing basketball at the Y
Favorite class: AP Calculus BC
Most challenging class: AP Latin
College plans: I got into the Early Medical School Acceptance Program at UAB and will major in neuroscience. I think I’ll continue in neurology or neurosurgery. I have been doing neurology research on clinical and scientific stroke therapy at UAB since tenth grade. I started volunteering through UAB’s teen volunteering program, and the professor told me to stop volunteering and come work with him.
Motivation in studies: My parents constantly tell me if I don’t, I’ll end up on the streets and that I need an education. Every time I make below 95, I get the Jeff State, burger-making speech. Also, the people I hang out with also take like 7 AP classes too, and there’s a subtle competition to see who does better.
Favorite memory from high school: Latin Convention is like one free day in a school environment you can do anything. There are supposed to be rules, but no one follows them.
Quirky habit: My pen has to be a G2. They write really fast. I spin my pens during class. It used to fall, and teachers would get mad. But now I’ve gotten good at it, and my teachers have gotten used to it.
*Ameen Barghi and Neil Tiwari tied for first in their class at Oak Mountain.

Katherine Barber

Chelsea High School
GPA: 4.41
School Involvements: Mu Alpha Theta (president), Future Business Leaders of America (president), National Honors Society, Beta Club and Spanish Honors Society
Hobbies: Flute, creative writing, helping out with Clearwater Community Church and youth group
Favorite class: Tie between AP Government and AP Chemistry
Most challenging class: AP Calculus
College plans: I plan to attend UAB where I will be a part of the Experiential Learning Scholars Program and Chemistry Scholars Program. I plan to major in chemistry because I absolutely love the subject. I mean, when it all comes down to it, everything goes back to chemistry, and it is so amazing to see how intricately God created everything. Then, I believe God is leading me to pursue a career in medicine. I plan to travel to Africa or other third world countries, especially those with a significant unreached population and work at least temporarily with a free clinic.
Motivation in studies:  To do my best for God and my mom.
Favorite memory from high school: Junior Prom because it was tons of fun!
Favorite cartoon character: Scooby Doo


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