Atlantic High valedictorian hopes to fight cancer


MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR: Suraj Padala, 18

Suraj Padala’s goal is to pursue a career in medicine to become an oncologist so he can provide a positive impact on other people’s lives.

“Cancer can be a very devastating disease and I would like the opportunity to help families who have been affected by it when I am older,” Padala said.

The 18-year-old is valedictorian of Atlantic High School in Delray Beach. His 4.0/5.148 grade point average vaulted him to the top spot out of 565 senior Eagles.

The high school accomplishment he’s most proud of is being the only Atlantic student to take International Baccalaureate Higher Level Math, Higher Level Physics and Higher Level Chemistry classes.

“It shows that I challenged myself academically and took classes that I was passionate about,” said Padala, a student in the IB Programme.

He was also honored when he became a 2016 National AP Scholar, because “it felt nice to see my hard work pay off.”

For now, Padala, who lives in Boynton Beach, plans to attend University of Florida to major in chemistry, although he’s still waiting on responses from other colleges.

He’s taken and passed a multitude of Advanced Placement courses, and in 2015 was named an AP Scholar with Distinction. He was also a National Merit Commended Scholar.

Padala’s extracurricular activities include SECME, Mu Alpha Theta, National Honor Society and French Honor Society.

Balancing his different classes with extracurricular activities was a major obstacle he faced in high school.

“Managing my time properly and taking the time to thoroughly learn concepts helped me with my classes and also freed up time for other activities,” Padala said.

Some of those other activities included volunteering for organizations that relate to his career objective.

In 2015, he helped Relay for Life, Walk to End Alzheimer’s and the Breast Cancer Walk by raising awareness through handing out fliers, assisting with walk setup and registration, participation in the walks, and assisting other walk participants.

“I’m really passionate about what I want to do and I hope that I can influence the world in a positive way when I am older,” Padala said.

He said his mom, Rajeshwari Senapati; father, Sudhir Padala; and his 9-year-old sister, Roshni Padala, have sacrificed much to help him reach his goals.

“My parents’ support was instrumental in making me who I am today.”



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