In less than four months, Paul Phung and Hira Ahmed will be two of the 54,369 undergraduate students at Texas A&M University in College Station. Phung is graduating as the valedictorian of Stafford High School, and Ahmed is the salutatorian.
They’ll both have a chance to speak at the Stafford graduation on May 24 at Texas Southern University in Houston.
Both seniors are Stafford citizens, and they’ve been classmates at Stafford MSD since Phung enrolled at Stafford Elementary as a second grader. Ahmed began attending SMSD in pre-K. They’ve been in band together since their days at Stafford Intermediate and joined the National Honor Society, the Peer Tutoring Program and Student Council when they were Stafford High freshmen in the fall of 2015.
“Being the valedictorian shows all of the hard work I’ve put into high school,” Phung said “I couldn’t have done it without all of my teachers.”
Phung’s older sister, Vanessa Phung, was Stafford’s valedictorian in 2016. She now is a junior at the University of St. Thomas in Houston.
“She motivated me and helped me with my schoolwork,” Paul Phung said. “After she graduated from Stafford, it was on me to succeed.”
Ahmed, the youngest of three Stafford MSD graduates, said her parents played a big influence in her life.
“My academic success was always about making my parents proud,” Ahmed said. “They always had high expectations, and I liked meeting them.”
Both Phung and Ahmed were enrolled in all Advanced Placement and Dual Credit College Courses this year. Dual Credit is a program in which Stafford High students can take courses through Houston Community College.
Phung will study chemical engineering in college with plans to work in research or the corporate world, while Ahmed will major in environmental science and hopes to do research or attend law school after college.
They said Stafford prepared them academically for A&M, and noted that even though the university has a large enrollment, it still has a small-town feel.
“It’s the college version of Stafford,” Ahmed said.