After a comprehensive selection process, Areeba Asghar was chosen as Valedictorian of the Graduating Class of 2018. The Graduation Ceremony will take place at Ryerson Theatre on 28 June 2018, where she will deliver her speech.
Selecting this year’s Valedictorian was a three-round process consisting of an application process, a vetting process, and finally, the selection. The application required the signatures of ten graduating students, two teachers, and answering related questions. The pool of applicants was first narrowed down to seventeen students. Then, the selection committee interviewed teachers and further narrowed it down to five students. Finally, a Grade 12 vote was conducted and the Valedictorian was selected. The voting process lasted from 7 June 2018 to 8 June 2018, and results were announced on 9 June 2018.
Throughout her time at Garneau, Areeba has been actively involved in her community and in extracurriculars. She has been a member of The Reckoner’s Life Board for four years, a member of the Editorial Board for two years, and she founded Photography Club. She is currently the manager for The Reckoner’s Life Board. For the past three years, she has also volunteered at a local hospital, as well as a rehabilitation center and the library.
Writing, poetry, and spoken word are some of Areeba’s hobbies. She also enjoys photography and has brought that passion to others through Photography Club. This year, she participated in the annual Muslim Inter-Scholastic Tournament (MIST) and made it to the finals round, which will be held in New York this summer.
When asked what she thought made her stand out from other candidates, she replied that she believed it was her ability to connect with and help other students. She said that she believes she is familiar with a lot of people because she is always empathetic and helps people to the best of her abilities.
Areeba will be attending McMaster University next year for the Bachelor of Health Sciences program. She plans to go to medical school in the future to become a cardiothoracic surgeon. Her career plans were motivated by the limited representation of females in that area, which was 11% in 2015 in Canada. Other future goals include travelling to Europe, including countries such as Greece.
“I’m going to miss Garneau’s community—there are so many different perspectives and thoughts. The teachers are also really nice and actually care about our education; they’re very genuine,” she commented. When asked what she thought made Garneau special, she said “diversity makes Garneau stand out,” adding that, “People are very tolerant; we all respect each other’s religions and opinions. That’s what I love about our school.”
As for advice for the graduating class, she had a few remarks to offer: “The biggest thing I’ve learned is not to aim for good marks, but to aim for knowledge. Even if you succeed you won’t feel good about it because you didn’t get the knowledge. It’s not like we’re trying to get on top like a ladder; school is about gaining knowledge and skills in order to succeed in life.”
One important thing Areeba thinks all students should do is “find something that makes them feel better.” Whether that be hanging out with friends or writing an artsy poem, she believes that it is important to have something to come back to when you’re exhausted with life.
Areeba also offered advice for aspiring Valedictorians: “Get to know the graduating class, know your peers. Remember to be a helpful person and be there for people. Also, always assume the best of people.”
One last thing Areeba wants to remind people is to believe in themselves. “I did not believe in myself – I couldn’t believe I could get into my program. I couldn’t believe I could do a lot of things actually, and that’s why I tell everyone to have a little faith in themselves,” she says. She wants to remind everyone to be optimistic and that “there is no harm in trying.” For her final speech to the graduating class, she hopes she will inspire her peers “to believe in their abilities and aspirations.”