Name: Qasim Hassan
High School: Central Gwinnett High School
College (Current or Future): Georgia Institute of Technology
Major/Intended Major: Mechanical Engineering
Financial Aid Program: Zell Miller Scholarship
Qasim Hassan plans to major in mechanical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology, taking full advantage of the Zell Miller Scholarship he earned as the valedictorian at Central Gwinnett High School.
Qasim’s valedictorian speech paid homage to his favorite epic film series, Star Wars. While he wasn’t able to deliver it cos-playing as Darth Vader, his life had some similarities to the famous saga: a traumatic past and heroic resolution.
“I was abandoned at two years old and the feeling of isolation never left. Nobody seemed to care enough to break through the cold shell of a lonely young boy,” Hassan said. “I never felt that I could amount to anything more than a failure, but I was wrong. There was something out there waiting for me. I couldn’t see it yet, but it was time to follow my dreams wherever they led.
“My father was the one who helped me feel that I was at home with my family despite all the visions from the past.”
Qasim’s father also told him about the Zell Miller Scholarship “years ago, to emphasize the importance of pursuing high academic goals,” and he steadily worked towards those goals during his time in high school.
“Today, the force is strong with me as I continue my training to become the person I hope to be.”
Hassan provides Yoda-like advice for students, advocating for unlimited ambition when planning for their future.
“You should set big targets for yourself,” Hassan said, “and focus on achieving them by working hard every day.”