Excellence in Education Volume 16, Issue 34, 7-1-21
Valedictorian Matthew Wong
Oyster Bay High School Valedictorian Matthew Wong has always been determined to succeed and make his family proud. Fueled by the sacrifices his parents made to give him and his brother a better life, he proudly wears the Class of 2021 top honor as a badge that validates his hard work and commitment to excellence.
This fall, Matthew will head to Cornell University to study Chemical Engineering and looks forward to the vast opportunities that will enable him to feed his passion.
“Technology is an emerging field in all industries, and I want to be part of the movement that creates innovative solutions to societal dilemmas through science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM),” he said. Ten years from now, he sees himself as a principal in a chemical engineering firm.
From a young age, Matthew and his older brother Jonathan, a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute who is studying a similar STEM field, learned the importance of a strong work ethic from watching their parents effectively balance their careers, school and family to make a good life for their children. His father, who came to America from Hong Kong when he was 10 years old, and his mother instilled in them the importance of finding what you are passionate about, discipline, and managing your time to be successful. Matthew’s greatest strength, he said, is his ability to lead others in the classroom, on the playing field or on the concert stage, and “incite a true passion in them for what they are doing.”
Salutatorian Riya Gupta
Oyster Bay High School Salutatorian Riya Gupta learned from a young age to set her goals high and strive for excellence. Highly driven and determined to succeed, Riya proudly puts one hundred percent into everything she does.
As she sets her sights on college, Riya is confident that those qualities will propel her to the next level of success. Intrigued by human behavior and how the mind functions, she plans to study psychology at Seton Hall University this fall.
“I want to study psychology to learn more about derealization, paradoxes, and multiple states of existence,” she said. “I would also like to work with technology that could analyze states of consciousness and how one’s vulnerability may expose the secrets of one’s mind.”
A decade from now, Riya said she sees herself as a psychiatrist working to understand people on a deeper level. “I find it so intriguing how one’s brain may truly get lost in a fantasy, thus eliciting a state of psychosis,” she said.
Riya credits her parents and her siblings for pushing her to be the best version of herself. She recalls her mother staying up late with her studying and emailing her Advanced Placement teachers in the eleventh hour. Her older brother, Aavi, was valedictorian of the Class of 2020 and inspires her every day, and her younger brother Aari is so advanced beyond his years she is in awe by his vast knowledge at such a young age. She also was inspired by all her teachers and close friends.