Basrai, Williams top Sulphur Bluff grads

By FAITH HUFFMAN,News-Telegram News Editor

May 28, 2008 - They may come from a small school, but that doesn't stop Sulphur Bluff's top students from aiming big in their future goals.

Fatema Shabbir Basrai, valedictorian of the 2008 Sulphur Bluff High School senior class, says she hopes to one day represent the United States as an ambassador or working in the United Nations. She plans to focus on studying international relations/studies in college, learning different cultures and languages.

"As a sophomore, I researched the field of international relations and found a program called Lead America," said Basrai. "I attended LA and served as ambassador of my team and was required to make speeches and final decisions concerning our 'country' in the two week UN simulation."

Salutatorian Sarah Ashley Williams' future goals include obtaining a business degree and teaching certification, which she will put to use in a rural school while working toward a certificate in counseling.

"I want to work with high school students, and get them pointed in the right direction to achieve their goals, become successful, and enjoy what they do for themselves and the people around them," Williams explained. "To affect someone's life in even a very small way, and to help them achieve their goals and aspirations, is something that I believe is a great accomplishment in anyone's life."

Both Basrai and Williams have already begun taking steps toward fulfilling their goals. Each has been involved in a variety of extracurricular and service activities and for four years have been academic competitors and youth leaders.

"As valedictorian, academic achievement has been one of my proudest accomplishments. However, my extracurricular and community service activities have required more time and effort than even my college biology class. From them, I have gained responsibility, dedication, time management skills and most importantly leadership abilities. I believe I have taken every step necessary to prepare for my future and become a strong leader and community member," Basrai noted.

Basrai, daughter of Zenab and Shabbir Basrai, served as an officer two of the three years she participated in Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, was vice president of her class both her junior and senior years, was on the Alliance Bank Junior Advisory Board, and was named to "Who's Who Among High School Students" for four years. She also was a three-year member of Beta Club, serving as club president during the 2006-2007 school year. She led the yearbook staff for two years, serving as editor-in-chief.

She was a member of the parliamentary procedure team, which for three years qualified for state. She also participated in One Act Play two years and for was a district winner in the University Interscholastic League literary criticism team for three year. She placed second in regional literary criticism at the regional meet, then went on to place fourth in state in literary criticism in 2007.

Basrai was also selected to participate in Texas A&M University - Commerce's Project STEEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Education and Math) as a member of the Sulphur Bluff team this year.

She earned the valedictorian ranking by finishing the year with an overall 4.67 weighted grade point average. She has been awarded the John Cabot University Presidential Scholarship and the Lead American Alumni Foundation Scholarship, which she will use at John Cabot University.

Basrai said her parents, 12-year-old brother M.B. Basrai, and her aunts and uncles have inspired her to do well. She cited Mrs. Joyce Ivy as being not just a teacher but also a mentor and friend. Other people who have inspired her have been FCCLA advisor Janie Vandiver, and yearbook advisor and business computer information systems (BCIS) teacher Amy Hollenshead.

Williams, daughter of Kay Williams and sister to Angela Gamblin, was active in FCCLA for four year, serving as vice president of Star Events and of programs, and was a four-year state qualifier in parliamentary procedure. She was involved in Beta Club for three years, serving at one time as reporter and president. For two years was also a leader of the yearbook crew, serving as assistant editor. She also participated in Students For Christ.

The salutatorian was a regional qualifier in UIL for four years, competing in literacy criticism and computer applications. She also earned accoladesfor playing the leading female role two years in One Act Play. She also was named best actress and to the All Star Cast.

Among the activities the salutatorian has participated and volunteered her time for her community include teaching a preteen Sunday school class for two years, helping with the Alumni Dinner for two years, Seniors Serving Seniors for one year, and Adopt-A-Highway and Relay For Life for three years.

Willliams was also named in "Who's Who Among American High School Students" and made the honor roll all four years of high school. She finishes the year second in her class with a 4.64 GPA.

She plans to use the Graham Johnson Scholarship she has been awarded by Texas A&M University-Commerce to begin her studies.

She said her mother, BCIS 2 and yearbook teacher Amy Hollenshead, history teacher and coach Charles Wright, and her pastor's wife, Joy Stone, have all inspired her in some way.

"They have all made a huge impact on my life, and have always had faith in me," Williams said.

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