Palm Beach Central valedictorian has eyes on the defense industry

April 2017

Tarang Patel is the 2017 valedictorian of Palm Beach Central High School.

tarang-patel.jpg

Tarang Patel is the 2017 valedictorian of Palm Beach Central High School. 

Q&A

What are your hobbies? I like photography and videography and playing open world games on the weekend because I like the discovery they provide. I spend a lot of time with my family and relatives, going out to the beach and things like that.

What would you do if you were invisible for a day? I would visit North Korea to see Kim Jong-un without being killed. Not just anyone gets to go there that freely and there is almost no insight into what is going on there. It is a nation shut away from the rest of society.

If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be? Galileo. Of course, he was a mathematician, philosopher and astronomer, but he had a view about what exists outside of our world and the truth of our solar system that I find very interesting. He was the one who introduced heliocentrism. I’m a vegetarian, so that would kind of restrict the choices of really enjoying some Italian food. Maybe we could have some elegant pastas and sauces.

For Tarang Patel, it’s the experiences outside of school that have helped him succeed so well in school.

Patel, the valedictorian at Palm Beach Central High in Wellington, thanks his family for the opportunity to travel the globe. From riding elephants in Jim Corbett National Park in India to traveling the Champs d’Elysee in France to Switzerland (his favorite trip, so far), Patel has been able fuse those experiences into an understanding and outlook that has helped him garner a 3.9 GPA and 5.26 HPA.

“Traveling most definitely helps me in school. In school, we would just be focused on the subject we are studying, we wouldn’t really consider looking at the outside view. But I am not taking anything for granted, whatever I’ve learned, I like to apply wherever I travel,” Patel said.

That includes studying the architecture in Mount Titlis, Switzerland and how the old communities blend in and coexist with the surrounding nature, “untampered by the human touch,”the Wellington resident said.

“In France, it was fascinating because, despite all the regular towns and small little villages, the people were so friendly,” Patel said. “There is so much history there. Anything you touch could have been made hundreds of years ago. I try to absorb that to the fullest extent and I thank my family for the shared taste of travel.”

Besides giving him a slightly different perspective than some of his classmates, traveling also lets the 18-year old delve into one of his passions – photography.

A fan of nature photos and videos, Patel has used his expeditions to put together a memorable portfolio featuring nature shots, as well as scenes and people he has encountered during his travels. Locally, he has used his Canon camera to produce public service announcements and documentaries for different organizations with which he has worked.

Valedictorian was never really something that popped up on Patel’s radar until midway through his high school career. In fact, when he entered as a freshman, he didn’t even know “valedictorian” was a thing.

“When I heard about it, I thought ‘why not do it?’” Patel said. “It would be an honor for my family and, out of all my relatives, I would be the first to hold that title, something to one day tell my children and encourage them.”

So he put together one of the hardest schedules he could find during his sophomore and junior years. That simply raised his motivation and forced him to apply himself more rigorously. Title in hand, Patel has turned his attention to colleges and a possible future in the defense industry.

He has been accepted to the University of Florida and is waiting to hear from New York University and the University of Pennsylvania, where he hopes to be accepted into the Wharton School and major in business.

“Wharton is well-known and very prestigious,” Patel said. “I eventually want to have my own company so, not only business, I would like to have some background in computer science. I want to build a business from the ground up that revolves around the defense industry. I’ve always been interested in that with my travels and discoveries.

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