East valedictorian to study petroleum engineering (w/video)
June 5, 2014 at 1:05 a.m.
Updated June 6, 2014 at 1:06 a.m.
The light poured into the piano room inside Shahed Nielsen's home as he began to play.
For the Victoria East High School valedictorian, playing the piano is a time to forget about duties at hand and an opportunity to improve his repertoire.
"Piano made me more well-rounded," Shahed, 18, said. "Music helped improve my focus."
Shahed will stand before his fellow classmates to deliver his valedictorian speech at Memorial Stadium on Saturday evening.
"He has worked really hard for this," said his mother, Parivash Nielsen. "Something like this doesn't happen all the time."
His mother met her husband, Buddy Nielsen, while studying at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
For fun, Shahed said he likes to play basketball with his brother and walk their dogs, Spuds and Bandit.
He has been in the top five of his class since middle school, his mother said.
Since last summer, he's worked as a math tutor at Victoria College, where he'll be tutoring over the summer.
"Volunteering makes me feel proud and actually useful," Shahed said. "I enjoy helping others."
After graduating from Victoria East, Shahed said he plans to attend the University of Houston to study petroleum engineering.
"I'm going to spend the next four years of my life studying and spending money on tuition, and I want to get a good return on my investment," Shahed said.
Shahed said he wants to help preserve the planet's natural resources.
"I want to utilize them but not exploit them," Shahed said. "Some resources are limited, and future generations will need to have the same opportunities that our generation has right now; people need to be conscious of our environment."