NEW BRITAIN â€“ If there is one word Usman Jalil can use to describe his senior year, it would be â€śstressful.â€ť
â€śBut I made it,â€ť Jalil said with a laugh. â€śItâ€™s been really intense. I didnâ€™t know where I wanted to go for college and there was a lot of anxiety applying to schools. I worked countless hours to get all the work done and now that Iâ€™m graduating, I can finally breathe a little.â€ť
The salutatorian for New Britain High School said it was humbling when he was told of his achievement.
â€śIt feels amazing, knowing that all the hard work paid off,â€ť Jalil said. â€śWhen I first stepped into high school, my cousin graduated as valedictorian and went off to Harvard. He set the bar for me in a goal-seeking way and I felt motivated to work hard and do what I can to be a great student.â€ť
Jalil was involved with a variety of different school activities, including taking 11 advance placement classes. He was on the math team, debate team, several honor societies and played varsity soccer. He also did an internship at St. Francis Hospital last semester and ended right before the pandemic outbreak happened.
From his wide range of experiences, Jalil said it isnâ€™t hard to see heâ€™s a very indecisive person.
â€śItâ€™s been like that all my life. I would jump at one thing after another, ask too many questions and just curious about everything,â€ť he said. â€śI Googled a lot, read a lot, and asked a lot of people for their different perspectives. At one point I wanted to become a neurosurgeon and go to medical school. But after doing a math and science program at Central Connecticut State University last summer, something finally clicked and Iâ€™ve found an interest in engineering.â€ť
He will be attending the University of Connecticut in the fall to study computer science and engineering on scholarship. He hopes to either join the tech industry after he graduates or incorporate his technical skills in the medical world.
â€śA part of me still wants to be involved in the medical field. In todayâ€™s world, computer science is a major growing field and you can use it to solve problems in so many ways,â€ť Jalil said. â€śWhat really fascinates me is you can use computer science in medicine, so I would love to be able to help create better medical solutions and improve healthcare technology.â€ť
The pandemic reinforced his interest in both areas, raising his motivation to find more answers to his never-ending questions.
â€śIn a way, the pandemic forced me to reflect on what I wanted to do with my life,â€ť Jalil said. â€śThere was no enormous pressure compared to when I was working hours and hours to keep up on schoolwork. Now that itâ€™s over, Iâ€™m excited to move on.â€ť