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BRIGHT FUTURES — Nederland valedictorian Saahir Dhanani shines in leadership roles

NEDERLAND — Nederland valedictorian Saahir Dhanani not only survived a year of chaos and turmoil, but came out on top.

The Port Arthur native stood center stage at the Ford Park Pavilion Friday raising his voice to friends, family and peers as the Nederland High School Class of 2020 Valedictorian.

It is a moment he will never forget.

“It feels very surreal,” Dhanani said. “It is hard to believe that I’m no longer a high school student, especially considering that we didn’t attend school for the last few months. Graduation is supposed to bring a sense of closure, but I feel like it is missing because of all the events missed.

“Nevertheless, I’m glad I’m finished. To be named the valedictorian is nothing less than an honor. I am ever thankful for all the help my family, friends and teachers have given me for me to get here. I’m happy that my hard work over the past years has paid off in this way.”

Saahir Dhanani

Dhanani, who grew up with many of the people in the Nederland Class of 2020, said it was an honor to represent his favorite people.

“These past four years have been quite tough, and we have faced numerous difficulties,” he said. “To be honored as the valedictorian is a testament to that fact that times will always get better.”

In high school Dhanani was always a leader.

The 18-year-old was president of Key Club, a member of student council and Terrific Nederland Teens, president of the National Honor Society and a member of the tennis team.

He took each role seriously.

“Being a leader was an important part of my high school experience because I learned what it truly means to lead a group and the responsibilities that come alongside it,” Dhanani said. “In Key Club, I would oftentimes lead by example and this just reinforced the idea that we were all working towards the same goals.”

In Key Club and other organizations, Dhanani participated in many service and volunteer events.

He considers his greatest accomplishment to be the service he has done for his fellow man.

“I feel like I have just scratched the surface of all the service that I would like to do, but so far this is something that I am greatly proud of,” he said.

As the 4.0 GPA graduate walks into the next steps of life, Dhanani said he also couldn’t help but to look back. One of his favorite memories includes being a deflator at the football games.

“I was alongside some of my closest friends, having fun, and showing school spirit,” he said. “Those Friday nights remind me of all the good times I had in high school.”

Dhanani graduated Magna Cum Laude honors with four scholarships offers to Georgia Institute of Technology where he will major in computer science.

“I have always been interested in the ways that computers and technology have influenced our lives in nearly all aspects,” Dhanani said. “I chose to pursue this at Georgia Tech because that’s where I believe I’ll have the most success, plus I have amazing family in the area there.”

Dhanani hopes to be at the forefront of technology in a few years and be part of the driving force behind development and innovation.

As he moves to the next chapter of his life, Dhanani remembers the words of Martin Luther King Jr.

“We must except finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope,” he said.