Meet Our Valedictorian

Risliana Khan

Risliana graduates from ISD with a CGPA of 4.61 earned during her IB diploma years. She will join the class of 2025 at the University of California, Berkeley, as a Regents' and chancellor's scholar, the most prestigious scholarship offered by UC Berkeley to joining undergraduate students.

She was also accepted to the following universities, Brown University, Duke University, New York University, University of Southern California, University of Rochester, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, University of California Los Angeles, Mcgill University, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Toronto.

Let's get to know such a dynamic young adult better through an interview.

How does it feel to be the valedictorian of the class of 2021?

Honestly, I feel weird and fulfilled—it was never my goal to be the valedictorian. All that mattered was that I was smart enough to do well in my subjects, not whether I was smarter than others. And I didn't spend most of my time feeling smart rather I spent most of it struggling and pulling all-nighters.

In your opinion, what are the important attributes one must have to be the topper of a class?

I think balance is key. You need to be able to invest countless hours on assignments, but you also need to have time to relax. Or else you’ll burn yourself out. Getting good grades doesn’t mean you need to study 24/7. Similarly going out, playing video games, watching Netflix are gratifications that are instant and fun, but the satisfaction doesn’t last that long. So all I’m saying is that doing fun activities should be a reward for your hard work and only then will you be balanced.

What is your most favorite memory from ISD?

I think all the week without walls trips were so fun. Especially Nepal, where we expected to relax in the mountains. Trekking for eight hours in the blazing sun, using a pit toilet, showering in a tent, encountering many bugs— are experiences I will cherish forever. Sleeping in a tent seemed horrible at that moment, but looking back, I know I'd go through it all over again.

Where are you heading after ISD?

If everything works out, I’ll be going to the University of California Berkeley in the pre-med track. I’m excited about immersing myself in Berkeley’s culture as it’s oriented towards free speech, open questioning, and solving the big problems—few other schools have that penchant for political action, a need to speak up.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now on?

I am a planner, so I do have some big goals I want to achieve. Hopefully, in ten years, I will be done with med school and working towards my residency. If I don’t pursue Medicine, I imagine I will finish my master's and Ph.D. in Economics. Perhaps, I will even get the chance to work for a FAANG company. Whatever path I choose, I know I’ll be filled with knowledge from internships, jobs, and people I encounter along the way. There truly is so much to learn and so little time.

How do you think ISD has prepared you for your life after school?

Academically, I think doing the IB and MYP taught me how to creatively and actively seek out knowledge. Since you're taking so many challenging subjects you learn useful skills, which you would have otherwise avoided or neglected to learn. Outside of academics, since ISD prioritized community service, I know this will push me to continue making a meaningful impact on people's lives.

What will you miss most about ISD?

There isn’t a single thing I won’t miss about ISD: the building, the people, the teachers, the cafeteria food, the grass wall. But if I had to choose it would be the atmosphere. There is this dynamic between grades and within grades that is so unique. I don’t think I’ll ever encounter something quite like that. It’s a type of environment that can never be replicated elsewhere.

What is one piece of advice you would give to underclassmen?

It might sound cliche, but I’d say live each day as it comes: granting a level of exclusivity to every moment, considering them as singular and transformative. That’s one of my biggest takeaways from the Class of 2021 because you only do high school once.

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