In 8th grade, she won the Presidential award for attaining the highest grade average in her class. She rose above, delivering a speech at the small graduation ceremony held. Now, she’s Woodland’s class of 2019 Valedictorian. Galal will once more deliver a speech at graduation, and is still rising. On top of all that, Bayan Galal will be attending Yale in the fall.
Galal has been accepted to Yale University. Galal was in shock after learning of her acceptance on December 14th at 5:00 p.m. of last year, the date and time that early action admissions decisions came out. Galal describes the whole day as extremely nerve wracking, and there was a lot of pressure on her due to the fact that everyone knew I was finding out that day. It was on her mind non-stop.
“At 5:00 p.m., I opened my application portal and clicked “Check Status Update” and as soon as I did the decision letter came up. The first words I saw were “Welcome to Yale College!” and I completely lost it after that,” Galal says, “I screamed so loud and so obnoxiously that at first my family thought I didn’t get in. I kept screaming for about ten minutes and then I just started sobbing. It started to sink in what had just happened, and as I thought about the amount of time and commitment I had to put into that, I couldn’t stop crying. It was so surreal, and even today, nearly two months later, it’s just as surreal.”
Getting accepted to such a prestigious and competitive school is no small feat. Galal also applied to Harvard, Dartmouth, New York University, and the University of Connecticut, and will be hearing back from those schools in March. Yale has a 6% acceptance rate, meaning out of 36,000 students applying, only around 2,000 will be accepted.
“I applied to Yale because I think there is an unparalleled potential for individual and collective growth in the community,” states Galal.
Galal has truly accomplished so much in four years. She achieved the highest GPA in her class, with Charles Schwarz following her as the salutatorian. She held leadership positions, such as Student Body President. She took an active role in her athletics as the Girl’s Cross Country team co-captain and only senior. Doing this all at the same time was no easy thing to do, but Galal set her standards high and was determined to be a successful person. She has, after all, been accomplishing amazing things since her middle school years.
After winning the Presidential award in the eighth grade, Galal reminisces on how excited she was, and how she had worked hard for it, and was ready to continue working hard in high school, much like her excited-ness and ready to continue her success at Yale. Throughout her time at Woodland, she has participated on the girl’s cross country team and on the girl’s tennis team, along with being an active member of the Math Team, and in the Quiz Bowl group. Galal will be participating in the 14 hour math challenge with a few other students, and she competes in state-level tournaments with the Quiz Bowl group. Sports have helped her with time management skills, and she has particular fond memories of being co-captain of the girl’s cross country team with junior, Emma Slavin, citing her enjoyment of supporting her teammates. She credits some of her skills and successes to her work in Woodland Regional High School’s Student Government organization, advised by Christopher Tomlin, humanities teacher. According to Galal, her goal as Student Body President was always to introduce new ideas and projects, and allow for a process of constant learning, discovery, and change.
“What I love about Student Government is that I not only have the opportunity to take action on an individual level, but I can also enable others to take collective collection,” Galal says, “Individual contributions, when done collectively, impact the larger issues in the world around us. Helping people realize that potential is incredibly meaningful to me and I hope to continue doing so in the future.”
When asked for tips on studying, Galal had plenty to share. One of her top two tips was to focus on understanding and internalizing information rather than memorizing it, because then there is a greater appreciation for the material, and it is easier to apply it. Her second tip was to never lose sight of goals and what is being worked towards, because when someone knows what he or she is working towards, it gives that person the ability to overcome any obstacles and appreciate the process that is getting them to where they want to go.
Galal has taken many courses at Woodland, but two of her more challenging classes, she says, were AP Biology and AP Computer Science. According to her, AP Computer science was a hard course for her to take, as she had never been exposed to it before, yet that is the same reason she described it as rewarding. Galal described AP Biology as a challenging course she is in the process of taking, as the class covers a lot of content in a shorter amount of time. But, Galal also has a respect for the subject.
“ … I also think biology is such a powerful subject because it shows us that we take for granted how miraculous the things our bodies constantly do really are. I think the intricacies of organs, tissues, cells, and their interactions with one another are so fascinating.”
Galal is a very motivated person, persevering through all of her complicated classes, and much more. She says that her biggest motivation for her drive is to better the place she is in and positively influence the people around her.
She says, “I believe that if we don’t serve others, we do a disservice to ourselves.”
And being a strong and passionate individual is nothing new to her family: Galal’s father grew up in Egypt, attending medical school there. He immigrated to America, and is currently taking care of premature babies as the Director of Neonatology at St. Mary’s Hospital.
“He overcame a lot of obstacles but never used any of them as an excuse to give up or settle. Seeing how hard my parents have worked to get where they are today has allowed me to have so much respect for them and to continuously strive to make them proud,” Galal says.
In the very near future, Bayan will be spending a week in Washington, D.C., representing the state of Connecticut at the 2019 United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP), which was established in 1962. Every year since then, two student leaders from each state have been chosen to come to D.C. for a week and experience the U.S. government in action. The students get to hear major policy addresses by senators, cabinet members, officials from the Departments of State and Defense and directors of other federal agencies, and also participate in meetings with the President of the United States and a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
And in the very close, yet feeling so far, future, Galal plans on double majoring in Developmental, Molecular, & Cellular Biology and Global Affairs, wanting “to work at the crossroads of science and service,” as she put it. She wants to go to medical school and become a surgeon.
“Medicine is about serving individuals and policy is about serving communities. Without health, everything becomes difficult, but with it, anything is possible. I want to channel this concept and increase what is possible for people.”
After working clinically for some time, she plans on going into public service and specifically focus on public health, which, according to the American Public Health Association, “works to track disease outbreaks, prevent injuries and shed light on why some of us are more likely to suffer from poor health than others. The many facets of public health include speaking out for laws that promote smoke-free indoor air and seatbelts, spreading the word about ways to stay healthy and giving science-based solutions to problems,” (https://www.apha.org)
“I want to work on developing new treatments for diseases, and I also want to make existing treatments more accessible to those who need them. The massive potential for saving and improving lives is the reason I want to work in the medical field,” says Galal.
Bayan Galal is a smart, dedicated, hard working student and community member, and it is no question that wherever she chooses to go in her future, she will enrich her community with knowledge, compassion, and kindness.
“Even as difficult times come up, it’s important to see how far you’ve come. There’s an untapped potential in continuous improvement, and by using accomplished goals as the foundation for new ones, you can continuously appreciate how far you’ve come while still seeing how far you can go,” Galal says.