PHOTO GALLERY — Two Nederland seniors surprised with full scholarships

Published 12:30 am Sunday, March 12, 2023

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NEDERLAND — Tears of pride and joy were shed at Nederland High School Friday as two students were awarded the Presidential Scholarship by Lamar University.

The students, Axel Buan and Bilal Alani, received a full scholarship worth up to $100,000 over four years, Natalie Butaud of LU said.

To be eligible students must have at least a 3.9 GPA, be in the top 10 percent of their class and submit an application, resume and essay and complete an interview with LU.

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A total of 137 students applied and were interviewed and only 15 of those students are awarded the scholarship — two of which are from Nederland High School.

Buan was in music theory class when school and district officials, LU representatives and excited parents entered the classroom.

Buan plans to study mechanical engineering.

He hasn’t planned for after college but has an idea of what he wants to do.

“I do know I want to pursue something within the mechanical engineering field and mostly towards the innovation side, because I like to take things that work or maybe don’t work and improve them to become better,” Buan said. “And there’s always something that can be more efficient, work faster, safer.”

Buan is also an accomplished musician.

“Music is one of my biggest passions because it’s kind of like an outlet for me to express my emotions,” Buan said. “I am a music producer; actually I can play guitars, drums, piano, bass ukulele.”

He also knows how to produce in digital audio workstations.

Axel Buan is the son of Azineth and Conrad Buan.

Principal Natalie Gomez called Buan creative, innovative and intelligent.

“As you know, he’s got a bright future ahead of him. We know that he’s destined for greatness, and this is the first step,” Gomez said. “We’re just really excited for him and to see what his future holds.”

Bilal Alani was in a science classroom when the group, along with his father, Imad Alani, arrived for the surprise.

He didn’t even realize is dad had walked in at first, then he saw the superintendent, Dr. Stuart Kieschnick and others.

“I was kind of hoping it was a scholarship for me so I was really excited,” Bilal Alani said.

Alani plans to major in chemistry with a minor in Spanish, go to medical school and into a field within sports medicine.

Alani is a busy student that, besides academics, plays soccer and tennis.

Alani was the focus of a Bright Futures story in November, where he told Port Arthur Newsmedia chemistry has been his favorite subject.

Besides being a top student, he also speaks three languages. He moved to the United States at four with Arabic being his first language. He also speaks English and Spanish.

Senior class counselor Sara Hooks said Alani is involved in student council, sports and “just about everything you can think of.”

“He goes above and beyond to do anything on campus and he’s very deserving of this,” Hooks said. “And, as you know, he’s going to medical school. So he’s got a lot of school coming up and this is going to help him out tremendously.”