By Malcolm Butler
Cedar Creek’s loss is Rice’s gain.
That’s where this year’s school Valedictorian will be heading this fall as Devika Dua moves from small-town Ruston to the big city lights of Houston as she pursues a pre-med curriculum.
So why Rice?
“I think it has a balance between being a very competitive university and having a supportive and collaborative environment,” said Devika. “For my major, it’s a great school in both of those areas. It has great pre-med advising and it has the Houston medical center right there. All of those factors were enticing.”
It also didn’t hurt that Devika received the Rice Trustee Distinguished Scholarship — one of a number of scholarships — totaling $60,000.
Devika’s list of scholarships, awards and accomplishments is as impressive as one would guess coming from a young lady who ended her high school career with a 4.6 grade point average, which included just one B on her high school transcript — that came in a high school level biology class taken in 8th grade.
“I missed an A by one point,” said Devika.
She doesn’t miss much.
Her accolades include the Rice Trustee Distinguished Scholarship, National Honor Society Scholarship Semifinalist, National Merit Scholar, P.E.O. Star Scholarship, National Biomedical Engineering Society Conference 2nd Place Prize Scholarship, Louisiana DECA Carol Borskey State Officer Scholarship, ALA Girls Nation and U.S. Presidential Scholar Nominee.
“Devika availed herself of virtually every educational experience Cedar Creek provides: accelerated and Advanced Placement courses, leadership and service opportunities, athletics,” said Assistant Principal and AP English Instructor Leeanne Bordelon. “I worked with Devika for three years as an AP instructor, and she consistently demonstrated the kinds of critical thinking and academic curiosity we work to cultivate. We wish Devika all the best as she takes the next step in her academic journey. She will accomplish great things.”
Her accomplishments are so impressive that Devika became just the 20th student in the history of the school to be inducted into the Cedar Creek Academic Hall of Fame, the first since Sarah Katherine McCallum (2019).
Devika said her time at Cedar Creek has helped prepare her for what she believes awaits her in college.
“Rice focuses on that close-knit community aspect and residential colleges — it’s a small campus — and Cedar Creek itself has that small family and close-knit community which I really love,” said Devika, who has attended the school since first grade. “I loved my teachers because they gave individual attention to students. I think in that aspect Cedar Creek has definitely helped me.”
So what is her game-plan for a major?
“Right now med school is what I am thinking,” said Devika. “But if not med school, potentially a graduate degree in biomedical engineering and then I will see what is next. I am also minoring in social policy analysis in case I want to combine anything in policy or political science with what I am doing.”
Davika points to her participation at Girls State and ultimately Girls Nation (in July of 2022) — where she was just one of two out of a pool of more than 300 candidates from the state of Louisiana selected — as experiences that have helped mold her career choice.
“We each wrote bills and we got into this mock debate floor and debated our bills,” said Devika. “I thought it was such an interesting way to gain knowledge of both the current events that are going on and experience how the senate works and the general US Government structure.”
Her father Sumeet Dua, who is the Executive Associate Vice President and Chief Research Officer in the Center for Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Sciences at Louisiana Tech University, said he has seen his daughter develop a deep drive for knowledge since a young age.
“Devika has demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to academic excellence, leaving an indelible mark of accomplishment and paving the way for a future filled with boundless opportunities,” said Sumeet Dua, “From early elementary to middle school, Devika exhibited curiosity and a genuine desire to expand her intellectual horizons and developed a love for reading. She developed self-motivation and discipline through high school to balance academic responsibilities, extracurricular activities, and personal commitments.”
And her mother Prerna Dua also points to her daughter’s work ethic.
“She is very hard working,” said Prerna Dua. “Once she has set her mind on to something, she is going to succeed. It doesn’t matter about the time (requirements). Her hard work and perseverance is what has brought her this far.”
And they are just some of the personality traits that will serve her well at Rice and into the future.