Palmetto Senior High junior Abdul Ali Khan won a Panther of Distinction Award at the Palmetto High Awards Ceremony last month. He started his volunteer work early.
When he was young and living in Pakistan, he and his sisters created a book drive for Northern Provinces, where there was a lot of terrorism and the children at an orphanage needed help.
“We started when I was in fourth grade until eighth grade,” he says.
They’d collect 1,300 books a year to donate.
Khan moved to Miami in ninth grade. He wanted to do another book drive for the region but he found that the shipping costs were too high to make it feasible.
The summer after freshman year he went back to Pakistan and taught English/Reading/Speaking/Writing at Ida Rieu College for Blind and Deaf.
“I worked predominantly with younger children, grades four and down,” he says.
He is part of Tutoring for Tomorrow, the Palmetto based program where he matches tutors and students. Part of the money earned by the tutor is donated back to the program and then is donated to charitable organizations.
For a year or so, he and his older sister would go to a nursing home and visit with the elderly.
“At the nursing home I spend a lot of time in the hospice section,” he says. “Seeing them get happy over seeing me, someone young, made me keep on going.”
They would also do activities with the elderly, things like finger painting and karaoke, he says.
Last summer, Khan went to Guatemala as a part of the Emmaus Medical Mission. He and his best friend Daniel Fein gave out eyeglasses to the people of the area who needed help with their vision.
“We set up a clinic,” he says. “We had a chart. So, we went by it. We carefully compared glasses to see what felt better.”
He hoped to go back this summer but he will be attending a seven-week Student Science Training Program at the University of Florida. The program is lab based and includes research. At the end, the students present their project to the UF staff. He chose subjects that were engineering or math related.
At school, Khan was one of the founders of the Computer Science Club. They work with Florida International University Compsci Honor Society students. The FIU students coming in and teach coding, algorithms and help train students for competitions.
Khan participates in the Odyssey of the Mind competition. His team will be going to the World competition, having won the state contest in early April.
He competes in the Astronaut Challenge at the Kennedy Space Center, the National Economics Challenge and the National Finance Challenge. Palmetto was state champion in both competitions. The team is also a National Finalist in the Economic Challenge.
He is a member of both the Science Bowl team and the History Bowl team. And he competed in the Physics Olympiad at Barry University.
He’s the vice president of the Debate Club, vice president of National Science Honor Society, he’s running for president of Mu Alpha Theta, historian of the Asian Culture Club, a member of the Chess Club, the Social Studies Honor Society, and the National Honor Society.
For college, he’s considering Yale and UC Berkley. He plans to major in mechanical engineering and minor in finance.
Khan plays badminton for Palmetto and has been named team captain for next year. He’s good enough that he won second place in the Under 17 category at the Sunshine State Championship Games.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld