Life is a mystery
Connequot High School's 2018 valedictorian, Dogan Okur

Courtesy photo

Life is a mystery

Story By: ANTHONY PERROTTA
5/31/2018


BOHEMIA—Connetquot High School recently named Dogan Okur as the valedictorian for the Class of 2018. Okur said that being told of his achievement was “quite emotional,” and that he “felt the tears creeping up, but held them back.” 

During his senior year, Okur was part of Math Honor Society and National Honor Society, as well as the robotics team and Science Olympiad. He also, previously, participated in varsity wrestling and junior varsity football, and worked with Habitat for Humanity. 

As for hobbies, Okur enjoys playing video games. “It could be sports themed or action themed,” he said. “I’m not very picky. However, I do love games where there needs to be some sort of communication. It’s very satisfying when you win as a team that’s working together.” Okur also enjoys weightlifting in his spare time, and describes it as a way to build self-confidence throughout high school. 

While he likes playing guitar, Okur says he hasn’t had much time or motivation for it, but intends to resume again this summer. “Moreover, I like to tinker and fix things,” he added. “It can literally be a watch or a TV, all the way up to cars. I like to fix things because it’s satisfying knowing your two hands accomplished something to make an object work again.”

Okur occasionally works at his dad’s auto shop on Main Street in Sayville. “It’s going to be almost a year at this location, but he’s been in this business almost all his life,” Okur explained. “Over the past eight years, I would spend some summers working with him, learning, and just helping him out. Now that I can drive, he may call me at home and ask me to go pick up a part from the store. I try to help him out whenever he needs me. It’s also good to learn about cars because in the future, you can save money on repairs and also have a career to fall back on just in case.” 

Okur will be attending Stony Brook University. However, he hasn’t chosen a major yet. “I wanted to do something in engineering, but at the same time, I would like to do something in the medical field,” he said, adding that bioengineering is also an option. “For engineering, I like how the math is concrete. It’s also mind-blowing seeing higher-level mathematics take place in the real world. As I became older, I noticed that these things were the foundation for higher-level mathematics that plays a crucial role in our world.”

Okur continued: “I find life very intriguing. In all my science classes, I was very engaged because life is a mystery. When you learn more biology and chemistry, you begin to piece together how things in the world interact with one another. And mysteries that are out there involving biology and chemistry are what makes me so motivated to learn more about them.”

Connetquot’s valedictorian says he will miss all his friends and teachers now that high school, which he called a “second home,” is coming to an end. “I’m not going to miss the lack of independence,” he added.  “I find it annoying in certain ways because I am legally an adult, but I have to raise my hand to go to the bathroom. I’m going to enjoy the personal freedom and independence that comes from attending college.”

Okur lists his family and teachers as his biggest role models. His father didn’t start school until he was 13 years old, but according to Okur, his hard work made him the top student in the Black Sea region of Turkey and helped him get accepted to an American school.

“His struggles motivated me because if he was able to do it with all those problems, then I should work hard and be grateful for having something to begin with,” Okur said. “Everyone else in my family is hardworking, so I use them as my figures. When it comes to teachers, I really value the hardworking, caring and devoted ones. They give it their all and I respect them 100 percent. Being motivated to teach high school kids is not an easy task, so I see them as my role models as well.”

When asked about what advice he would give to future graduates, Okur said to enjoy your time as a student in high school. He says while it may seem frustrating with all its rules, school has some order to it. “This order makes each day boring, but much easier,” he added. “Once you leave high school, life begins. Each day is going to be filled with stress and problems that adults face. You may be stuck on the side of the road and have no one to call, or not pay your bills on time and face the consequences. Being an adult is great, but don’t be in a rush to leave your childhood.” 

Okur concluded by saying that high school flies by, so don’t let it go without using it the best you can. “Do clubs. Do events. Play sports. Meet new people. Just have a good time. Work hard, but don’t stress over every little thing. Life has a way of working things out in one way or another.”