Nitin Kalla has been on a mission since he was in middle school and watched his older brother give a speech during his high school graduation.
“My brother was the valedictorian of the class of 2017 and ever since he gave his speech, I wanted to do the same,” Nitin said. “I put in lot more effort because I wanted to give a speech at the end of the year. It was one goal I wanted to accomplish.”
Mission accomplished. Nitin is the Salutatorian of the Class of 2022.
During his junior year, he wasn’t sure his dream would come true. When class rankings were first released, he was third.
“I was a little bit scared,” he said. “I knew I had to find a way to get to that No. 2 spot, so I could give the speech. I managed somehow.”
The two students ahead of him in the class rankings at that time were his good friends Tommy Thomas and Vincent Mercado. The trio had been in competitive math classes together since junior high, and they also played tennis together. The friendly competition between the three in math and tennis pushed Nitin to do his best.
“We are all very competitive,” Nitin said. “We knew we were going to be the Top 3, and we ended up the Top 3.”
Nitin also was a National Merit Finalist, which was not necessarily a goal.
“It just happened,” he said. “I was not expecting it at all. It felt good. It was a big accomplishment. It gave me a lot of scholarship money.”
Nitin plans to go to Texas Tech this fall to major in business and pre-med and wants to start his own practice as a doctor. He said becoming a doctor was an easy decision for him.
“My parents are both doctors,” he said. “It’s tradition. It would be weird if I wasn’t a doctor.”
He hasn’t decided on a focus yet but has several years before that decision will need to be made.
“I am shadowing some doctors this summer, so I am hoping I can find something I have a passion for,” he said.
Nitin was hugely successful in competitive math over the years, but after COVID, he cut back on competitions and quit tennis to focus on academics. He took Advanced Placement classes and also is president of the National Honor Society.
The strategy paid off as he accomplished that goal of giving a speech on graduation night.
“It means a lot to me,” he said. “My middle school self would be proud.”
By Candy Reagan