Wylie High top two share advice, memories
By Nancy Whitney
Editor’s note: The Wylie News will include the WHS valedictorian and salutatorian this week and will include Wylie East’s top two in our May 27 edition.
A strong work ethic and desire to succeed can take you far in life. It can also help you rise to the top of a class of 440 students.
Callahan Martin and Najib Gazi earned the highest honors securing the spot as valedictorian and salutatorian respectively for Wylie High School’s class of 2015.
Both students have been in the district since moving to the area when they were in third grade.
Callahan said she came into high school knowing she was going to start strong, refusing to succumb to the so-called freshman slump.
“I came into it ready to work. I knew people were going to slack and I didn’t want to fall behind,” she said. Her solution? Taking all AP and pre AP classes during her years at Wylie High.
For class rankings, the district compares grade point averages on a 6.0 scale. Callahan’s hard work earned her a 5.72 GPA.
Two years ago, this pirate received valuable advice from a senior named Amanda McEnroe.
“She told me to be involved in everything you can, make time for everything you can. You want to be a well rounded person.” Callahan said.
In order to do everything you can this valedictorian advised just be aware of when you need to study and when you need to work.
Topping the list of favorite activities is choir and National Honor Society, having participated in both throughout her high school career.
Callahan’s activities include serving as a choir member and president, National Honor Society member and president; Spanish Honors Society; Council of International Affairs and Student Council. She played tennis for one year and performed in the Wylie High production of Hairspray. In addition, Callahan was actively involved in her church youth group and sang in the praise band.
“I am not quite sure how I manage to juggle it all,” she said. “You have to find a balance. It is important to make time for family, friends and school work, you just have to weigh them based on priority.”
Callahan says her favorite faculty member is Humanities teacher and NHS sponsor, Mrs. Philipose.
“I can always go to her about things or anytime I am struggling with school,” she said. “I feel so comfortable with her and she is such an amazing person. I just enjoyed having her as a teacher.”
The valedictorian plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin in the business honors program. She is looking at a double or triple major in marketing and Spanish.
“I am unsure whether I will continue my school career after that (college) or go directly into the job market,” she said. “There are a ton of great opportunities coming out of business honors that have a 100 percent job placement.”
Although Callahan was accepted into Duke University as well, she chose UT after receiving a four-year, full ride scholarship, giving high marks to the esteemed business honors program.
Callahan lives in Wylie along with her parents, Tena Harvey and Daren Martin, and has two older siblings, Madison and Jordan.
Wylie High Salutatorian Najib Gazi attributes his success to hard work more than talent. That work ethic, much like Callahan’s, involved taking AP and pre AP courses throughout the four years, earning him a 5.68 GPA.
“Anyone in the top ten or fifteen (percent) would tell you they aren’t there because they are smarter than anybody,” he said. “They are there because they worked harder.”
Najib said the 2015 class is quite competitive with the top six or seven graduating students this year all earning higher GPA’s than the valedictorian last year.
He said if you want to find success you have to push yourself to find what you want to do because you will regret it if you don’t.
Although he wishes he had tried harder his freshman year, he has put most of his effort into the last three years.
“I wasn’t really a slacker but I wasn’t trying either,” he said. “I think if you are a current freshman and you are falling behind a little – just work hard and get in touch with your teachers more. Once you start working with them they become more open to you.”
In addition to playing varsity soccer his first two years, Najib has been involved in numerous activities. He played Varsity Soccer three years, participated in AcDec (academic decathlon), National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society, has served on StuCo (student council) and participated in BPA, HOSA and CIA.
“I have loved playing soccer, but this year I really enjoyed BPA,” he said.
Having teachers who care so much about what they do has also helped Najib be successful.
“Mrs. Fajardo and Mrs. Philipose have been two important teachers to me,” he said. “Mrs. Philipose specifically just understands me, coming from the same cultural heritage. She gives me advice and actually cares.”
Najib said it is important to care about what you do.
“It will help you in life,” he said. “Once you start actually caring about something, you will see what a difference you are making.”
Najib will attend the University of Texas at Dallas this fall majoring in political science. He intends to attend law school following his years at UTD.
“I chose political science because I am good at math and science, which isn’t always so fun, but arguing and debating are fun to me,” he said. “And it will allow me to help people.”
Najib was also accepted to Rice and SMU, but turned them down.
“They just weren’t offering me the same money that UTD was,” he said. “UTD will be paying me to go there, where at Rice and SMU, I would have to pay to go there.”
Najib lives in Murphy with his parents, Akmam and Rubaiyate, and has four siblings, Sabique, Asim, Wafia and Sameeha.
In true high school spirit both Najib and Callahan remembered fondly the win during the Wylie High and Wylie East football game last fall.
“The crowd went nuts,” Najib said. “Nothing on video could ever show exactly how everyone felt after that moment.”
The duo will share the stage, and moments like those, as they address the Class of 2015 at the commencement ceremonies June 6 at the Allen Events Center.