Salutatorian Afrah Rafi Displays Perseverance and Excellence


Afrah Rafi has been recognized as the Salutatorian of the Class of 2022 with a GPA of 4.951.

Aahil Nishad, Staff Writer

Determination. Hard work. And a smile along the way. 

Senior Afrah Rafi had a significant impact on the Danbury High School community in her four years at the school. Leaving as the Salutatorian of the Class of 2022, Rafi was also president of Key Club and held an officer position in HOSA, among other activities. 

“My mindset was about learning, rather than grades or GPA, which was what kept me going for four years,” Rafi explained. “[Otherwise], it is really easy to get burnt out, and just quit after a while.” 

Rafi challenged herself through all her years at DHS, taking a rigorous courseload and committing herself to excellence. She ended with a grade point average of 4.95, after taking a plethora of AP courses and consistently pushing herself to do her best. 

When asked about how she accomplished such an impressive achievement, Rafi explained how she knew the level of motivation required for what she wanted to do. “A lot of it was from not waiting till senior year to get my grades up or to start studying. Instead, having that mentality of trying to do good in school as soon as I started as a freshman.” 

Rafi explained how she stayed motivated during some of the stressful moments, also crediting her friends that studied alongside her for supporting her. “It’s really hard, like when you’re in class and learning something abstract…that you think might not help you in your life. In that case, it’s important to take a step back and remind yourself why you want to study and why you want to do well.”

However, Rafi was no stranger to the constraints felt by many students during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Starting junior year [in distance learning], having to sit through hard classes like Calculus and Chemistry, and then having a bunch of homework afterward was a struggle,” Rafi said. “Especially figuring out how to manage my time. The lines between schoolwork and homework really blurred during COVID, so part of it was learning how to manage my time myself.” 

Rafi was also a part of the Health & Bioscience Academy (HBSA), which aligned closely with her plans to enter medicine in the future. She would also organize the Key Club Blood Drive in cooperation with the Red Cross in the early 2021-22 school year, along with other officers. Rafi reflected on the drive fondly, saying “I’ve always loved blood drives and was something that I felt was important…and I think it was a pretty good turnout.” 

As part of HOSA, she also organized a suture lab to provide a learning opportunity for students interested in healthcare. Each student was given a banana (in dire need of stitching) and followed along with the school’s Registered Nurse (RN) Ms. Burke in a chance to learn basic techniques common in the medical field. 

Rafi would compete in various HOSA competitions beginning in her freshman year, in which she frequently placed first. She also worked with the Danbury Grassroots Academy in tutoring young children. 

“These [leadership] roles gave me an opportunity to learn skills that aren’t really learned in a classroom,” Rafi said. “All of my extracurriculars helped me in building a community, and that social aspect was really important to me.” 

Rafi is especially grateful for her parents’ support throughout her high school career. “They didn’t push me into clubs; they didn’t push me into taking this class or that class. They just supported me and knew that whatever I wanted to do, I would do it well.” 

Even as Rafi explained that teachers would puzzlingly describe her as quiet and reserved, she also thanks Danbury for providing support since early on in her educational journey. Rafi said, “My teachers…were always confident in me and my abilities in whatever it was, even from a young age in middle school.”

Rafi will be attending the University of Connecticut majoring in Biology on the pre-med track, for which she is very excited, praising their pre-med program and how it maintains a small-school feel despite its size. 

“As I grew up, I came to have a respect for healthcare professionals,” Rafi said. “With healthcare, it feels so much more than a job where you are just sitting at a desk. You might be interacting with people on the worst days of their lives, but to be a part of the cause changing that is appealing to me.”

Rafi finally emphasized the importance of focusing on learning throughout high school, rather than making the mistake of prioritizing minute numerical differences. 

“It’s not really important what your GPA is. It’s so much more important to focus on learning for the sake of learning itself, and not for other goals. Our [academic] culture focuses on achievements like that rather than actual learning. It’s hard for kids to want to learn, because of our focus on goals like that.”

Danbury High School has certainly learned a lot from Rafi’s time at the school. It is clear that Rafi has bright things in her future, and her perseverance will leave a mark on the school.