The Port Arthur News
Nederland High School’s top two students, Ariana Akbari and Cole Ogrydziak, are ready to embark on the road to success.
The valedictorian and salutatorian have by following their dreams and made education a top priority in their lives.
Akbari, 18, ended high school with a perfect 4.0 grade point average and plans to head to Harvard University where she will major in neurobiology.
Education has been a priority for Akbari since she was a child. She credits her entire extended family for helping her along the way.
“They have been extremely supportive” Akbari said. “They’ve always encouraged me to follow my dreams and to not listen to people who say that you can’t do something because you’re not ‘good enough.’”
There is another reason the valedictorian worked so hard to be at the top of her class.
“My dad is from Iran and he came over during the Iranian Revolution when women weren’t allowed to get an education,” she said. “This is important, as a woman, to show I can do it too.”
Akbari hopes to eventually attend medical school and become either a psychiatrist or neurosurgeon.
When asked which course gave her the most difficulty, Akbari made a list.
“I would say a great deal of my courses gave me difficulty. Anyone who’s involved in extracurriculars while juggling a load of advanced placement and honors classes would say the same, I imagine,” she said. “One of the best teachers I’ve had though, is Mrs. Sue Jordan. I’ve had her for both Pre-AP and AP Chemistry and although she gives out some of the most monstrous tests, she has a God-given talent for teaching and I have learned so much from her.”
But Akbari isn’t all books and no fun. She lists her all-time favorite movie as Forrest Gump. She likes the fact the movie is like a modern day epic and chronicles a single man’s life and the way he has affected so any people and events in history.
“Although I certainly realize that it’s a fictional tale, I think everyone would like to leave their own mark on the world and can relate to the story at least in that way,” she said.
Akbari is the daughter of Saeid and Christina Akbari. Her activities include: Co-head twirler and drum major of the band as well as playing clarinet in the concert band, president of the National Honor Society, preside of Key Club, president of Spanish Honor Society, homecoming court, prom queen, student council delegate, band council delegate, University Interscholastic League team member and student volunteer at Memorial Hermann Baptist Hospital.
Her hobbies include playing the piano and the accordion, visual arts, reading, writing and learning about different cultures.
Ogrydziak, 17, graduated with a 4.0 GPA and plans to attend the United States Military Academy West Point. His twin, Sumner, will also be attending. The salutatorian plans to major in biological sciences and work toward an MD or PhD in medicine.
Ogrydziak said he didn’t necessarily strive to reach the top of the class but to do as well as he could.
“My parents instilled in me that education is important, but I personally chose to make it my goal to do as well as possible so that I could have as many opportunities as possible after high school,” Ogrydziak said when asked who or what inspired him to reach academic success.
He sees West Point as an opportunity to learn leadership skills and how to work with others as well as how to be a good officer.
When asked about his favorite movie, Ogrydziak cited South Park. The show’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, made the movie in 1999, he said. The duo also wrote the Tony award winning Broadway show, The Book of Morman, which Ogrydziak hopes to see one day.
Economics gave the salutatorian the most difficulty, he said.
“Because I’ve never studied it before and I didn’t find the material very interesting,” he added.
Ogrydziak is the son of Randal Ogrydziak and Kristine Ogrydziak. His activities include: Boy Scouts of America (Eagle Scout), UIL science, varsity football, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, martial arts and ultimate Frisbee.
His hobbies include collecting all genres of music except country, mixing electronic music, composing music and cooking.