Meet Shawnee’s 2019 class valedictorian and salutatorian

Valedictorian Jacob Delancy and Salutatorian Aditya Deshmukh sit down with The Sun to talk about what makes them work so hard, their inspirations and plans for the future.

From left, salutatorian Aditya Deshmukh and valedictorian Jacob Delancy are pictured at Shawnee High School on June 12.

As the school year comes to a close and report cards mailed home, a few seniors every year are honored with the valedictorian and salutatorian positions. This year, Shawnee students Jacob Delancy and Aditya Deshmukh have reached those achievements.     

Both of these students will graduate with a 6.0 grade point average. But, since there can be only one valedictorian, Delancy, the decision comes down to how many honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes they’ve taken.

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They recently sat down with The Sun to talk about what makes them work so hard, their inspirations and plans for the future.

The Sun: First, what college are you attending, and have you decided on a major?

Delancy: I’m going to Villanova. I’m majoring in mechanical engineering.

Deshmukh: I’m going to the Naval Academy, where I’ll major in engineering, with a focus on nuclear engineering.

The Sun: What are some interesting AP or honors classes you’ve taken this year?

Delancy: I’ve taken AP Statistics, AP Physics C, AP Psychology, and throughout my time at Shawnee I’ve taken 12 AP classes total.

Deshmukh: AP Physics C is one that I really liked.

The Sun: What actives do you do outside of the classroom?

Delancy: I’m on the cross country team. I’ve been a four-year varsity athlete on the tennis team. I’m a member of the Debate Club and have been a member of class council.

Deshmukh: I’m part of a volunteer organization, Quixote Quest, working with kids with developmental disabilities, which takes up a lot of my time. I also play soccer and tennis, and I’m also involved in the school jazz band.

The Sun: Where did your strong work ethic come from?

Delancy: I think part of it comes from my drive to always want to be the best version of myself. It just so turned out that I was successful in my high school career. I always try to succeed as much as I can in what I do.

Deshmukh: Growing up, my parents always wanted me to excel to the highest I can, but as I got older that work ethic just became part of me. So now I always just push myself in everything I do. 

The Sun: What’s your favorite subject?

Delancy: Definitely engineering and science. I get to use a lot of creativity and do a lot of hands-on projects, like building hydraulic robotic arms.

Deshmukh: For me it was definitely world cultures. Learning about different cultures was really interesting to me because it was something different than the usual subjects.

The Sun: Who are your inspirations?

Delancy: Ms. Kirk, my engineering teacher, and Mr. Castor, my debate coach, have definitely been an inspiration to me. Also, my dad works in the STEM field as a salesman, and we would always do science experiments in the backyard after he would bring home liquid nitrogen from work. He’d bring home many of his science instruments and we would test it. And, I’ve always been building contraptions around the house with my older brothers, like Rube Goldberg machines in our backyard, so those have been big inspirations to get into the engineering field.

Deshmukh: The leader of the volunteer organization I’m at is one of the most inspirational to me. He started the organization from scratch because his kid had Down syndrome. 

The Sun: What are your interests outside of school?

Delancy: I enjoy fishing, playing tennis and hiking. Hiking is something I picked up during Boy Scouts, I’m now an Eagle Scout. I’ll go hiking in Pennsylvania and in parts of New Jersey.

Deshmukh: I love playing music, and taking pictures and videos.

The Sun: What is your goal after high school?

Delancy: I want to attain my mechanical engineering degree at Villanova with an engineering/entrepreneurship minor as well. After that, hopefully get a job at a large firm or, my ultimate goal, start my own engineering firm and hopefully design products one day.

Deshmukh: To serve my county and give back in some way. Definitely try to get a career in the Naval Academy and see what I can do to help out.

The Sun: Do you have any advice for students?

Delancy: To keep working hard even if you’re not successful at first. Adapt and change to whatever studying methods work well for you. Get involved in clubs and activities and sports, it will also help make your high school experience more enjoyable than just studying.

Deshmukh: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. That helped me to understand a lot of stuff. Just because you get a B or something else, doesn’t mean you can’t keep improving. Learning is more important than just the grades.

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