Valedictorian reflects on high school career, highlights achievements

Senior Ethan Binoy shares how values and lessons led him to the present


Ethan Binoy

At the district office, senior Ethan Binoy receives an award beside his parents. Binoy has been first in the 2023 class since his sophomore year. His father Binoy Jose and his mother Dhanya Jose expressed their praise for his achievement.

After four years of self-motivation and working toward his goals, senior Ethan Binoy will walk the stage at graduation as valedictorian of the 2023 senior class. Binoy thanks different influences in his life for allowing him to get where he is today.

On a trip, senior Ethan Binoy stands beside his mother Dhanya Binoy and brother Sebastian Binoy. Dhanya Binoy comments on her support for Binoy’s academic goals and achievements in the article. Binoy said he looks to his family and friends to relieve pressure and stress from academics.

“I’m feeling really, really happy,” Binoy said. “It’s a big honor to be valedictorian of such a big school, and then also a prestigious school. And it’s also surprising that I was able to keep it. And I just have to thank my friends and family and also a little bit of God’s help that allowed me to stay here.”

Binoy has been first in the class since his sophomore year but was officially named first in the class the previous week.

“A lot of it was just how I was raised, so I have to thank my mom a lot for it,” Binoy said. “She helped me become a really goal-oriented person, so I was aiming for those hundreds, those high A’s. Being the best is good, but being excellent is better. That’s one of my principles. I believe that was one of the things in addition to you know, a little bit of luck that allowed me to (become the) valedictorian.”

Friends and family say they admire Binoy for his independence and motivation.

“Ethan has been a self-driven student,” Binoy’s mother Dhanya Binoy said. “There were times when Ethan was sidetracked, and we gently reminded him about the fine balance between fun and academic duties. Every day we tried to spend at least 15 minutes with him (discussing) his school news.”

Like other high schoolers, Binoy faced challenges in balancing academics, extracurriculars and personal life despite his drive to do well.

“Since I was really involved in the school in terms of extracurriculars, balancing workload, especially while taking so many APs in one year – that was a little rough,” Binoy said. “Especially during the pandemic, I had to experiment a lot with different ways of dealing with procrastination and getting all my work done.”

Binoy took a variety of high-level core classes in addition to health science elective courses during high school.

Often, I (felt) a little overwhelmed, (and I know) that I can’t work properly if I’m overwhelmed. So I need to (make) lists, (take breaks) and see what I need to focus on, just because I know a burnt-out student isn’t a successful student.

— Ethan Binoy, senior

“I started a YouTube channel, which you can just find if you Google my name,” Binoy said. “In school, I’m the president of the National Honor Society, which is, I’m pretty sure the largest club here.”

Currently, Binoy holds the position of communications coordinator of JWAC. Additionally, Binoy was vice president of HOSA last year and was involved in the speech and debate team for several years.

“For a lot of my APs, I wanted to focus on STEM classes, because I’m trying to study medicine, and also, that’s just what I’m most passionate about, like math and science,” Binoy said. “So I did a lot of AP Biology, AP Physics and I’m still studying AP Chemistry right now.”

Binoy offered advice to rising and current high schoolers.

“Use this time right now to find what you’re passionate about and what you love, because high school is a great time to experiment,” Binoy said. “Try different pathways, especially before you choose a major in college. It’s just amazing to get clarity on what you really like, just so you can target your classes towards that you can do better and you know what your strengths are, as well.”

Binoy’s parents emphasized “clarity” raising him.

At an elementary science fair, senior Ethan Binoy volunteers for the Science National Honor Society with senior Shrideep Gaddad and junior Sachin Kamesh. Binoy plans to pursue science as a career. In addition to being a member of SNHS, Binoy is president of National Honor Society.

“We really wanted to ensure Ethan has clarity on what exactly he wants from a career perspective,” Dhanya Binoy said. “We assumed such clarity would provide him with a better sense of direction and also enable him to focus all his time, planning, energy, and more than all, passion towards the final goals.”

Although Binoy said he prioritized his goals, he made an effort to keep his personal health in check.

“Honestly, I would have to say, just prioritize your work and also be careful of your mental and physical health at the same time,” Binoy said. “And, for me personally, since I was valedictorian (since) my sophomore year, there was a lot of pressure on me directly and indirectly from parents, friends, whoever, anyone who knew just to keep that role.”

The pressure, although a motivating factor, caused a hurdle in Binoy’s high school career.

“Ethan is a resourceful guy, and I sometimes wish that I could help him more,” friend of Binoy and senior Hariz Nawaz said. “Sometimes it seems that the best way to help him is just to talk to him about what he wants to do and how he plans to do it – in a way this may help him relieve some pressure and gain clarity. I mainly try to be the friend he can talk to, (and) I hope I am doing well with that.”

A support system from family and friends helped him overcome stress. His little brother, Sebastian Binoy, for instance, offered entertainment outside of the academic setting.

“Some ways I have been able to support Ethan though are just casual things such as just taking a load off by playing Rocket League, pool, badminton, or even some ping pong,” Nawaz said. “Other ways I have been able to support his ambitious goals are sometimes just explaining a subject to him, such as calculus, in a way that makes sense to me, in hopes that it may benefit him.”

His family taught him the importance of overcoming the stress and hurdles in the long term.

“Ethan has a high IQ and passion for science – so our support was mostly at a motivational level rather than a content level,” father of Ethan Binoy, Binoy Jose said. “We tried to teach him that both failures and successes are necessary for an individual to build a strong, positive and healthy personality.”

We ensured that we appreciate each and every achievement he made, however small it was. At the same time, we never criticized his failures.

— Dhanya Binoy, mother of senior Ethan Binoy

Binoy saw high school as a stepping stone on the way to higher education.

“Honestly, my goals were to really build up skills that are needed for college,” Binoy said. “So communication skills, presentation skills, then also on the academic side – researching skills and how well I’m able to absorb information, and also building study habits as well. And once those skills in high school, I’ll be able to utilize them in college, where I can build connections and propel my career.”

Binoy found his interest in STEM early on, and with exploration and skills development in high school, he will continue to pursue his passions throughout his higher education and career.

“I knew I liked science in middle school and through high school, I was able to solidify my passion for medicine,” Binoy said. “And even through studying the different types of medicines throughout health science courses, I was able to stick with neuroscience.”

Currently, Binoy plans on pursuing a neurosurgeon career at the University of Texas at Austin, but he is still waiting for college decisions elsewhere. He holds the eventual goal of creating a charity organization.