Rebecca Reed is class valedictorian and Shaayak Sen is class salutatorian at Dublin Jerome High School.

Rebecca Reed is class valedictorian and Shaayak Sen is class salutatorian at Dublin Jerome High School.

Rebecca Reed

Parents: Jon and Julie Reed

Grade point average: 4.478

Awards and honors: Honor Roll, all quarters; Celebration of Excellence Award, May 2006; Certificate of Academic Excellence, each semester; and French World Languages Award, May 2008

College: Ohio State University

Major: Business/Accounting

Extracurricular activities: French Club, Key Club, Photography Club, soccer statistician, lacrosse statistician, National Honor Society and basketball cheerleading.

What does it mean to you to be at the top of your class academically as you approach graduation? (Well besides the fact that I thought I was done with school work, but now I have to write a speech!) Being at the top of my class is the reward and justification that I never even anticipated would come with all of my hard work this year. When I first chose to take five Advanced Placement courses in one year, I had only one goal: to get the college credit. AP courses are such an advantage, especially when the cost of college is vastly increasing and when I am attending one of the strongest districts in central Ohio. You cannot beat the benefits that students receive from taking those tests; I know firsthand from watching older siblings test out of nearly a year of college. With that being said, I know I will be able to achieve my ultimate goal of becoming a professional much sooner. Although I excel in school, I cannot wait to become a part of the business world, so AP classes are one tool to help me get that much closer. Not to say that any of this was without great costs; I spent many nights working until midnight on homework and these past two weeks have been some of the roughest weeks of my life. To be honest, I never thought I would end up at the top of my class. That idea never even crossed my mind. I can't say that it doesn't feel good though!

Did you set goals for yourself in high school? What were they? Did you achieve them? I'm not really sure that I ever sat down and planned out certain goals for my high school career. Throughout my life, doing my best has always been an expectation around my household. My role in the family is to be a student and to get the best education possible, but not to say that my hard work doesn't go unrewarded. I have two older sisters who set the bar ahead of me very high. Although my parents always made certain I knew that it was never expected of me to fill their shoes, I think living up to their success has always been a personal goal of mine. So I would say, yes, that I have achieved my goal and in a way surpassed it. My sisters and I have always been hard working and motivated, but I would never dare boast that I have surpassed them. In my eyes, they will always be my older sisters to look up to and from my perspective now, I still have a long way to become half of the person that they have become.

Who has had the most influence on your life? Why? I really cannot pin that on one person. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I completely agree with that statement. My parents have had a massive impact on my life. Through everything, they have stood by me with encouragement and love. I know that I have come home countless nights after working at a friend's house to cram for a test, cranky and frustrated, and they have always seen through my mood and kept me going. Like I said before, my sisters have also had a large impact on my life. My older sisters, Colleen and Carolyn, have been through everything that I am facing now and I know I can always turn to them when in need. My little sister, Tessa, has become one of my best friends this year. Since she is a freshman and my other sisters are out of the house, she's always been around to make me laugh when I really could use a chance to unwind. I cannot forget my teachers either. Many of them have dedicated hours outside of school to helping me when I was in need. Every time I had a question or needed extra help to understand a topic, they were always there for me. Without the willingness to help, I would have never come close to achieving what I have done. Last but not least, my friends have helped me through all the hard work. All of the people I listed have kept me balanced and motivated; I really don't believe I could have made it through to where I am today without their support.

Shaayak Sen

Parents: Sarmita Sen (mother) and Indrajeet Sen (father)

Grade point average: 4.449

Awards and honors: National Merit Commended Scholar, three-time American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME) qualifier, U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad qualifier, Ohio Academic Scholarship nominee, Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship nominee, Advanced Placement scholar with distinction.

College: Northwestern University

Major: Business/Management

Extracurricular activities: Cross country, Debate Club president, Yearbook editor, National Honor Society, Dublin C.A.R.E.S. volunteer and Relay for Life.

What does it mean to you to be at the top of your class academically as you approach graduation? It's a great honor and it's really rewarding to get the recognition, but it is in no way a validation. Simply saying "I'm salutatorian" is hardly enough to succeed. There are many people who are just as qualified for this title, and I never went into high school making it my primary goal to finish valedictorian or salutatorian. On a related note though, my mom has definitely been a lot nicer to me recently (just kidding, mom).

Did you set goals for yourself in high school? What were they? Did you achieve them? I've always lived with the philosophy of trying to do the best possible, whatever that might be. Obviously this hasn't happened, and I don't think it's realistic to expect for it to happen either, but having that goal has always motivated me, and falling short of it keeps pushing me to try for perfection. I didn't start my first day of high school with the mindset "Let me take all the weighted courses I can so that I can be salutatorian," and I am very glad I didn't because my high school experience would be nothing like what it is if I had become that person. I'm happy with who I am and what I have done at this point in high school, and while there are definitely things that I could have done better, I am overwhelmingly satisfied with how high school has gone.

Who has had the most influence on your life? Why? My parents. I don't really see how it could be anyone else, they've raised me into what I am today, and they deserve much more credit than I could ever give them through this article. They have played huge roles in how I think and how I go about situations, and they've have always pushed me to do the best I can, while simultaneously being very flexible in what they allow me to do. My parents aren't the type who will force me to go open the books and study all day -- and I haven't done that (thankfully). For the most part my parents let me go about my life how I chose to, but they always make their presence and opinions felt.

Is that same person your role model? If now, who is? Why? Yes and no. The philosophies of my parents are ones that strongly affect me, and I especially admire my dad for working as hard as he does to let my family live the life we do -- one day I hope to do the same. But I don't see myself living the same life my parents do, so I can't say that I am trying to model my life to mimic my parents lives. The business leaders of our modern world like Page, Brin, Zuckerberg and Jobs are all people that I admire for their tact and innovation, and one day I hope I can create and run a flagship company like they do.

What is the one thing in your life you are most proud of? It's pretty cheesy -- but staying true to myself. The GPA is nice and looks good on paper, but I really could care less about it compared to how I earned it. I took the classes I wanted to, and worked and learned as I chose to. Whatever grades I received came as a result of that philosophy. I can never really understand the people who take every possible AP course and try to take summer courses just to create some illusion of "being ahead" in school or "being better" than their peers. Some students, granted, have an impassioned desire to learn everything in the world of academia, and I applaud them -- but I am not one of them. Because of that, I'm glad that I took courses outside of pure academics, particularly yearbook, because that course has easily given me more real world experience than any of my AP classes.

If you could go back is there anything you would change in the way you prepared for life after high school? I would have taken off my glasses for my freshman yearbook picture (it's a really bad picture). Seriously though, I wouldn't change anything. All the events in the past have led to who I am today, and I don't wish I was a different person.