Darien valedictorian embraces creativity, logic with computer science
DARIEN — When Komal Dhull moved to Darien from Stamford before her freshman year, she took Darien High School by storm. That year, the now 18-year-old found her passion for computer programing during an introductory class. She also joined the orchestra, where she plays the violin, and was inducted to the high school’s music honor society.
Throughout the next four years, Dhull played tennis and joined a variety of programs, including the high school’s pop strings group, the computer programming club where she now serves as co-vice president, Model UN and the math team. All this was done while excelling in 10 Advanced Placement classes, taking 13 AP exams and maintaining a 4.3 grade-point average — weighted credits putting her well above the traditional 4.0 maximum.
All Dhull’s hard work will pay off when she graduates as the school’s valedictorian on June 16.
“It just kind of happened,” she said. “I set out to do the best I could.”
Dhull credits her success to her time-management skills, something that will help her as she goes on to Carnegie Mellon University in the fall to study computer science.
“It was definitely a learning curve,” she said. “It’s not something I knew to do at the beginning of freshman year. The main thing is learning not to procrastinate. If I wanted to do all the things I wanted to do, I knew I had to buckle down.”
Dhull plans to use these skills to help her pursue all her interests as she takes on college. Also accepted to the University of Pennsylvania and California Institute of Technology, Dhull chose Carnegie Mellon partially for its strong interdisciplinary programs.
“Its computer science program is phenomenal and it has the things I’m interested in in computer science,” she said. “It’s also more diverse academically. I didn’t want to spend four years surrounded by people only interested in science.”
In particular, Dhull wants to focus on the intersection of computer science and psychology, the computer-human interaction. She has an interest in the use of robots and computer science in education, where understanding the behavioral psychology of the user is integral to developing the program.
Dhull’s senior internship at Tokeneke Elementary School and experience volunteering at Stepping Stones Museum in Norwalk has also helped with her understanding of this, as well as nurtured her love of working with children.
Despite the prominence of science, technology, engineering and mathematics — STEM — in her life, Dhull is looking forward to exploring computer science further during her time living and studying in Pittsburgh. She said the field allows her to tap into her creative side, the same part of her that enjoys playing music and reading in her free time.
“I enjoy it because it combines logical thinking and creativity, which are sides of me I didn’t think I could combine,” she said. “I like that my creative side comes in while solving problems in creative ways.”