As Estevan Comprehensive School prepares to hold its graduation ceremony on Saturday June 18, we caught up with this year's valedictorian, 18-year-old Ismail Kamel.

What was your reaction when you found out you were selected as this year's valedictorian?

"I was really happy to see that the hard work had paid off. And that all those countless hours of studying and staying dedicated to the work really paid off...and that's what counted."

What was your final average?

"I think they calculated a 99.7 per cent."

What were some of your favourite and strongest subjects?

"Some of my favourite subjects were the maths and sciences. I absolutely loved my chemistry, calculus, physics, and biology classes. I felt like I had a lot to learn from them and they really taught me a lot."

What were your extracurricular activities?

"I'm involved in a lot of things. In the school, I was involved with volleyball, cross country, and track. And they were really important to me because they helped me build those extra soft skills like leadership and teamwork. And they really helped me learn a lot and grow as an individual. And then outside of school I also like to coach soccer, and I feel like it helps me build myself as a leader and an individual in the community."

Tell us about your graduating class?

"It's a pretty big group...I think it's like the biggest we've ever had. There's a lot of good people, a lot of people who have interesting stories to tell. And I'm really honoured to really represent this class and lead this class as we move on to our next stages of life."

And what does that next stage of life look like for you?

"Hopefully I will be pursuing a Bachelor of Biomedical Science at the University of Saskatchewan. And I'm really excited for that because I hope that it'll help me build myself up to the next step which I hope to be medicine and really to be a physician when I grow up. Because really I want to embody those leadership and teamwork skills and really just be a better individual and really give back to my community."

"To be honest, I am not originally from here. My family moved here from Egypt when I was really young. And we lived a bit in Mississauga, Ontario, and life was really hard there and it was really fast-paced, and it was really hard to keep up. But ever since I've come here I've really come to appreciate Saskatchewan and really just the people and the slower pace of life. And really just enjoy the moment...and that's part of the theme is to just enjoy the journey, enjoy every moment, talk with your friends, learn, and have an open mind and listen. And really that's what I feel that I've learned from being here at the Comp and it's really important to me as I move on to this next stage of life."

Anything else you want to add?

Just that this is a big step and really we all just need to breath and relax. We're all the same, we're all human beings. Things can sometimes be overwhelming but I feel that I'm really honoured to have really good people, exceptional people in this community to just rely on. My teachers and my peers and especially my friends and family. And I just have people to rely on, people to talk to. And that really makes me feel confident and feel very happy and secure, and really ready for this next stage where, I know it's going to be difficult, but I know that I have the right people in my life and I have the right community to back me up."

You can listen to part of the interview below:

Ismail Kamel VolleyballIsmail Kamel (7) with his volleyball team. (Photo supplied by Ismail Kamel)