A close look at Farragut High School valedictorian, salutatorian

Farragut High School has announced its cream of the crop: 2024 valedictorian Benji Cho and salutatorian Danial Khan.

“I was on my way to an engineering conference when I received a call from my principal, Dr. (John) Bartlett,” Cho said about receiving the news. “Initially, I told him there had been some mistake because I had no idea that I was even in the running for the honor of valedictorian.

“But he confirmed that it was true and I was excited to tell my parents,” said the son of Seong-Hoon Cho and Sara Lee.

“For me, valedictorian isn’t really something I strived for,” the valedictorian said. “... Rather, it is just a testament to my passion for learning anything that is thrown my way.

“Now, having been chosen, I feel a sense of pride to represent my family’s success,

he added. “Particularly, I feel that it’s an honor shared with my dad, who was the catalyst of my passion for academia and the foundation of our family’s work ethic.”

Outside of school, Cho has participated in several research opportunities.

“Most recently, I led a research project in climate science, which gained recognition from National

Geographic and the Stockholm Water Institute. ... I’ll be traveling to Colorado this summer to compete for a spot in the International Competition in Sweden,” he said. “I am also the captain of Farragut High School tennis team, president of the origami club and a semi-pro video game player (was ranked globally in Clash Royale and Valorant).

“I was a member of the school’s Science Olympiad Team for three years, a member of HOSA for three years and a member of the school’s Mu Alpha Theta Club for two years,” Cho added.

He also earned first place in an event at the 2022 Tennessee Science Olympiad, first place in Data Science and Analytics at the 2023 State TSA Conference, runner-up in the district championship for high school tennis, was published in a journal for high-school researchers, was accepted to the 2023 Notre Dame Leadership Seminars, accepted to the 2023 Governor’s School for the Sciences and Engineering and earned distinctions such as the National Merit Commended Scholar.

As for a career, Cho hopes to become a neurosurgeon or anesthesiologist.

“I truly believe that each person has a purpose on this planet, and for a while, I had no idea what my purpose was,” he reflected.

Cho plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania this fall on the traditional four-year route.

“I plan to major in either neuroscience or biochemistry, with a minor in environmental humanities,” he said.

Danial Khan

“I am surrounded by 511 outstanding (senior) students, all of which demonstrate immense and unique talent,” Khan said. “It is truly an honor to be recognized as salutatorian at Farragut High School.

“My recognition as salutatorian is a culmination of my dedication and diligence throughout the past 13 years,” he added. “It also serves as a motivator going forward, as I have a long academic pathway to a career in medicine.”

Khan, son of Seema and Shah Khan, plans to pursue a career in interventional cardiology. “I will be attending the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where I plan to major in biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology in the Chancellor’s Honors Program,” he said.

“I am ultimately hopeful to combat healthcare disparities by offering quality care to low-income and uninsured patients,” Khan added.

“I wish to follow in the footsteps of my sister, Aruha Khan, whose faithfulness to health equity has stimulated my pursuit of a medical career.”

In summer 2022, Khan received a fully funded merit scholarship to attend the Governor’s School for the Sciences and Engineering at UTK.

Additionally, he is completing an internship as a student learning mentor at Brickey-McCloud Elementary School for the Gear Up 4 STEM program, where he assists in the setup and orchestration of science-related demonstrations to grow students’ passion in STEM disciplines.

At FHS, just a few of his other accolades and awards follow: a National Merit finalist and scholar; as a result of his preliminary SAT (PSAT) score, he was recognized as one of 15,000 National Merit Scholarship finalists in the United States; was recognized as one of roughly 3,800 Merit Scholars; and earned an award from Oak Ridge Institute for Sciences and Education Student Competitions for his project submissions in Ecosystems: A Balancing Act and Fact Finders.

He also represented FHS on the Youth Health Board via the Knox County Health Department from 2022 to 2024.