NORTH BRUNSWICK – Angelo Kayser-Browne said he never really thought about being at the top of his class.
Little did he know, after years of working hard in and out of school, he would be named the valedictorian of the Class of 2018 for North Brunswick Township High School.
Over the course of his high school career, Angelo completed 10 Advanced Placement courses, including calculus, statistics, chemistry and biology, while also taking honors classes.
He was a section leader for the marching band and a programmer for the Raider Robotix team.
Angelo asked his parents for a snake for two years, and finally got one on his 13th birthday. With his collection expanding to seven, he volunteers with the Monmouth County 4-H due to his interest in herpetology (the study of reptiles and amphibians).
He also volunteers with the summer reading program at the New Brunswick Library, managing the database and helping students log their hours.
“From a very young age I’ve been interested in learning everything I can. My parents reinforced the idea of going out and learning for the sake of learning … and over time I just pushed myself to see where I can go.”
Although Angelo said his activities are time-consuming, he said it is not difficult because he is exploring his interests.
“I don’t feel like I’m losing any hours of my day because all of the things are very important parts of my day,” he said.
He said he is able to be successful because he stays consistent.
“Above all, it’s important to just find things you truly enjoy doing,” he said. “Make the hours you put in meaningful … and it becomes part of your life.”
Angelo said he would like to study molecular biology while attending Princeton University in the fall.
As salutatorian, Akshaya Dinesh also understands the values of working hard.
She took 13 Advanced Placement courses in addition to several honors courses, tailoring her classes to STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education.
She played junior varsity and varsity tennis at the high school, and joined the choir in her freshman year.
She was a member of the National Honor Society, was president of the Mathletes, was the district webmaster for New Jersey for the Key Club, founded the Technology Club her sophomore year, was part of the Model U.N. executive board, was the Future Business Leaders of America vice president, and was a member of the French Honor Society for two years.
Akshaya earned the Outstanding Delegate of Saint Peter’s University Model U.N. Conference. She earned the National Center for Women in Technology N.J. Affiliate Award and National Honorable Mention. She placed second in the statewide Future Business Leaders of America competition in computer applications which qualified her for nationals, and she also attended the N.J. Governor’s School of Engineering and Technology summer program.
She was the grand prize winner at the TechCrunch Disrupt NY Hackathon where aspiring engineers and developers gather to take part in a 24-hour hacking endurance test. She received an award and fellowship at Stanford she plus plus #Include (sic) for her work on diversity in technology.
Akshaya created and is the CEO of “Girls Make Apps,” the nonprofit group that recognizes young girls from urban and underprivileged areas in New York who are under-represented in many fields of technology and engineering.
“As I started getting more into computer science I realized there are very few women in this space,” she said. “I’m working to create a social impact using technology.”
Akshaya was named a Young Adult Peer Advocate by the North Brunswick Department of Parks, Recreation & Community Services last year.
She was also a semi-finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program.
She said she has been goal-oriented since elementary school.
“When I find something I am passionate about, I absolutely refuse to stop until I’m done or until I get my result,” she said.
She thanked her mother for letting her travel internationally to various conferences and events to expand her knowledge and experience. She encouraged other students to take advantage of seeing the world.
“I never lose my sense of motivation because I know my work is having an impact,” she said.
She plans to study computer science and business at Stanford University. Her ultimate goal is to become an entrepreneur, possibly starting her own company to use technology for social good, she said.
North Brunswick Township High School held its commencement ceremony at the CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton on June 21.
Contact Jennifer Amato at email@example.com.