Top Graduates Aspire to Engineering, Medical Careers

Hannah Ismail - Class of 2018, Valedictorian

Hannah Ismail comes from a large family. She is the seventh daughter of Palestinian immigrants.

Hannah’s parents did not complete their high school education because the increasing violence in their home country forced their school to close. When her family arrived in the United States, Hannah's parents emphasized the importance of education. Of her older sisters, three are nurses, two are teachers and one is still studying to become a teacher. Hannah is forging her own path and plans to study electrical engineering.

"Hannah is a hard worker and will try anything I throw at her," art teacher Annette Valenzuela said.

Hannah, who has attended Duncanville ISD schools since she was in Pre-K, was offered scholarships at several universities. She will attend the University of Texas at Dallas where she received a full scholarship.

The decision wasn’t easy. Hannah loves literature and is also a gifted artist. Taking advanced placement English and art along with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) classes at Duncanville High School helped her to explore and focus her path.

Trying to picture life after graduation, she admits, can create some anxiety.  “It’s the same feeling you have right before freshman year,” Hannah explained. “You don’t really know – it’s a new challenge to tackle.”

Hannah’s scholarship covers eight semesters, and she plans to finish both her bachelor’s degree and her masters in that time. After that, she intends to complete her Master of Business Administration at the University of Texas.

Her goal is to work at a company that builds schools and then one day start her own business where she can create a school for girls.

In her graduation speech, Hannah hopes to inspire her fellow graduates by sharing a bit of her personal philosophy. It’s pretty simple.

“Make sure your biggest accomplishment is your next one,” she said.


Sharif Long - Class of 2018 Salutatorian

During his years at Duncanville High School, there’s little Sharif Long has not done.

He is an excellent student and has the honor of graduating as salutatorian in his class, but that’s just scratching the surface.

Sharif has a long list of clubs and activities to his credit. And he took on leadership roles in each of them.

“I was so interested in everything,” Sharif said.  “I wanted to try everything. Every organization I’ve been a part of, it wasn’t just something to put on a resume. It helped me become the person I am.”

It was Sharif’s experience in his Health Science Practicum internship that set him on his career path. He and his fellow students worked at Methodist Charlton Medical Center alongside doctors and nurses.

“Being at the hospital was cool,” Sharif said. “We were able to work with patients, and getting to see behind the scenes was eye-opening.”

Sharif will be attending the University of Texas next fall on  a full scholarship. He is one of just 175 students accepted into the Plan II Honors program at UT-Austin, which is an interdisciplinary curriculum leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Following his undergraduate studies, Sharif plans to apply to medical school to become an orthopedic surgeon. It’s an ambitious path, but Sharif says his high school career has prepared him well.

“I think one of the biggest things Duncanville offered for me was the ability to do a wide variety of things. I was able to explore and build on that throughout my years,” Sharif said.

One of Sharif’s greatest accomplishments was winning the governorship of Texas in Youth and Government in 2017.  It was the first time in the history of the organization that a delegate won in the first round of voting, and he won by a landslide.

Sharif has overseen student government at Duncanville High School as well. He was a member of Student Council for four years, serving as president of his class for the last two years.

“He is intelligent and very talented but this is only magnified by his kindness and compassion for others,” said Youth and Government Sponsor, Dianne Williams.

As if his other accomplishments weren’t enough, Sharif also earned the position of  drum major for the Duncanville High School Marching band; and in his junior year, Sharif made the All-State band on his tuba. The students selected for that honor represent a fraction of all band students in the state of Texas.

Sharif’s teachers had only kind words to say about him and they lament next year won’t be the same without him.

“Sharif is one of those students every teacher dreams about having in class or extra-curricular activity and wishes every other teacher had the opportunity to experience,” Student Council sponsor David Womack said.