PLANT CITY, Fla. — The first thing that comes to mind when someone thinks of Plant City are strawberries and the annual Florida Strawberry Festival.
History was just made not too far from the festival grounds.
"I worked really hard for this," said Ankit. "A lot of studying. A lot of preparing for it. So, I'm very happy."
Jamie Stephens is Ankit's school counselor. She couldn't be prouder of him.
"He is absolutely one of the most special students I have ever met in my 21-year career," said Stephens. "I have never met a student more humble and kind or intelligent than Ankit Patel."
This honor of being a National Merit Scholar Finalist is all part of a bigger plan. One that was created long before he was even born.
"My parents are originally from India. They didn't go to college, so my brother and I would-be first-generation college students," said Ankit. "So, it's a really big deal and this is what they live for, putting us through getting an education and being successful here. It really is the American dream and for me to be able to live up to that is really exciting."
Ankit is also very modest. He won't brag about his grade point average, but it is hovering around a 10.0.
He most likely will be Plant City High's 2021 valedictorian. He plans to study medicine at the University of South Florida starting this fall.
"The opportunities for research and clinical experience in Tampa Bay are really good, so I'm leaning towards staying in the Tampa Bay area and probably majoring in some biological science or possibly chemistry," said Ankit. "My ultimate goal is to go to medical school and live out the dream of being a doctor."
The Patel family will soon prepare for not one, but two future doctors.
Ankit's older brother graduated from USF this past year. He will head off to medical school next year.