Top students reflect on time at Monroe Township High School

Darsh Patel, left, salutatorian of the Class of 2018 at Monroe Township High School, with valedictorian Rishub Handa.KATHY CHANG/STAFF
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Darsh Patel, left, salutatorian of the Class of 2018 at Monroe Township High School, with valedictorian Rishub Handa.KATHY CHANG/STAFF

MONROE — Despite the size of the Monroe Township High School graduating class, Rishub Handa said he and his peers are all one.

“We support and believe in one another,” he said. “We have a strong sense of community defying stereotypes and social cliques that intertwine to make our class all in one.”

Rishub, 17, and Darsh Patel, 18, were named valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, of the Class of 2018.

“[School officials] told us where we were at in the beginning of the year,” Rishub said. “Then we were updated in the middle of the year. … We have known [we were valedictorian and salutatorian] for a couple of months.”

In the fall, Rishub will attend the University of Virginia.

“I want to major in biomedical engineering and minor in computer science and mathematics,” he said.

During his time at Monroe High, Rishub volunteered at a senior day care program, did some research at Rutgers University and served as a teacher’s assistant in research and development at the high school.

Last summer, Rishub traveled to Barahona in the Dominican Republic, volunteering with a global health organization that ran clinics in rural areas on the Caribbean island.

He also was a member of a number of clubs and honor societies; was a member of the varsity golf team; and socially networked with other students from East Brunswick, South Brunswick and North Brunswick through a blog on his passion for weightlifting and fitness.

In the fall, Darsh will attend Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

“I want to major in biomedical engineering and minor in public health,” he said.

Darsh said he would not be where he is if not for his supportive teachers, who he said did not hesitate to go out of their way for him.

“I am thankful for their support and they have shaped me into the person I am in and out of the classroom,” he said.

Darsh served in the debate and political science clubs, was the president of the Model UN youth and government club, and ran cross country, winter and spring track.

He said the past four years have been fun.

“My favorite memories are attending huge sporting events when our entire school rallies for a team, including our soccer team, during state tournaments,” he said.

Rishub and Darsh were among 566 seniors to receive their diplomas at the graduation ceremony held on June 19 at the CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton.