"No Judgment, That's Just What Happened": People Are Sharing What Became Of The "Brainiac" Of Their High School Class

When you think back to your high school days, there are probably a few superlative students who stand out in your mind, including the class brainiac. So, Redditor u/ameliiax asked, "What became of the most intelligent student in your class?" Here's what people said these folks are up to now.

1."Our valedictorian works for Tesla. The salutatorian is now a Buddhist monk in Tibet."

Three monks walking towards Angkor Wat temple at dawn
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2."He went to Yale and joined the ROTC. After he graduated, he became an Army Ranger and served in Afghanistan. When he left the army, he joined a seminary and became a priest."


3."The valedictorian went to Stanford and got a PhD in Mathematics. He now works for the NSA (National Security Agency). He tells everyone he's an 'analyst' and offers no additional details."

Students seated in classroom facing away from viewer, with notebooks on desks and backpacks on the floor
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4."He became a pharmacist, married a model, had a couple kids, bought a big house in our hometown…then he got caught writing fake scripts for his friends, lost his license, got a divorce, and his wife took the kids. I’m told he can be found at the local bar most nights..."


5."The smartest kid in my class ended up sharing a Nobel Prize in chemistry."

A medical professional's gloved hand retrieving a sheet next to a rack of labeled test tubes
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6."The guy in my class got a full ride to Harvard. He did an internship one summer at Intel and was killed by a drunk driver a few weeks after arriving in California. This was 25 years ago, and I still really can't believe it happened."


7."She went to college, got a master's degree, started medical school, and got pregnant, and has been a stay-at-home mom for 20 years. No judgment, that's just what happened."

Adult and child playfully upside down indoors with toys scattered around
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8."The valedictorian at my school became a nun right after graduation."


9."The valedictorian at my colleague’s school decided to skip college, move to some island in the Caribbean, and sell fruit on the beach. Sometimes, the smartest people are the ones who figure out what would make them happy, and they do what they can to achieve the closest version of that."

Tropical fruit stand with pineapples and bananas, beach and palm trees in the background
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10."The smartest kid in my graduating class was two years younger than the rest of us, having skipped two grades. He was a first-chair violinist, IB, AP, wicked smart, and an all-around nice guy despite his stressful extracurriculars and advanced classes. Now he's a sports writer and seems to be happier than ever."


11."The smartest kid in my high school was a kid I went to school with since we were in the fourth grade. His parents were constantly on him to do more, get higher grades, and follow in their footsteps as a lawyer. He was always a bit of an odd duck and hated exercise or going outside. I looked him up recently because I was wondering what became of some of my classmates. He ended up in South America for a while, working as a medical intern before moving to New Zealand and becoming a member of a start-up company. Now he is a professional guide who does mountaineering trips in the US. He looks and sounds so much happier than he ever did while he was under his parent's thumbs."

Two hikers with backpacks walking on a mountain trail at sunrise
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12."The smartest girl in my year was also one of the students who bullied me. I always hoped that one day, she might have something happen in her life that would make her realize that she wasn't that great during school. So far, it hasn't appeared to have happened; she went to the top medical school in the country and graduated top of her class. She's now a respected cardiologist and is happily married with two children who are in private school. So she seems to have found her happy ever after. I'm glad she's happy, but I'm also admittedly jealous!"

Healthcare professional working on a computer in a hospital setting
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13."Went to Harvard for college and somewhere else for medical school. She became a doctor, married another doctor, and had a kid. We haven't spoken in 20 years at least, but I still remember her fondly when I think of those days."


14."I was the valedictorian, and I'm currently finishing up medical school. I'm en route to becoming an ER doctor...and I'm depressed and regret it all. Life isn't all about grades. I wish I had put more focus on my mental health."

Person in motion wearing scrubs
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15."She became a waitress in a pub in her university town. She had a free ride all the way and graduated university as well, but she chose to live a stress-free life waiting tables."


16."I graduated at the top of my class. After college, I spent the rest of my 20s traveling the world and doing random odd jobs in different foreign countries. I went back to school at 30 to get my master's, and I'm only just now embarking on something resembling a career. Compared to many of my peers, I'm 'behind' in terms of finances, a career, and relationships (things most people consider 'adulting'). But I don't feel behind. I feel extremely fortunate that I had the opportunity to chase my dreams and have fabulous adventures. If I die tomorrow, I'll be glad I climbed the Eiffel Tower and went snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef instead of sitting in an office. And if I don't die tomorrow, there's still lots of time to get a real job and 'catch up.'"

Underwater view of a scuba diver exploring between two large rocks with sunlight piercing through the water from above
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17."He works for our state Supreme Court. As far as I can understand his job, he does a mix of legal research for the judges and trains new clerks."


18."The smartest girl in my school now works for NASA."

Space shuttle launch with billowing smoke at liftoff from launchpad


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19."He worked for corporations as an IT guy for a decade, and then left and started his own IT consulting company. Supposedly he is doing well. I think he retired early."


20.And finally, "He got a full scholarship to study physics at CalTech, which is even more impressive because our high school is in India. He went on to do his PhD at Princeton and is now a professor of Physics at a top US university. Even in high school, students and teachers were convinced he'd win a Nobel prize someday. And he may well do that."

Person writing chemical formulas on a blackboard with chalk
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Do you have one to add? Tell us what the smartest student in your high school class ended up doing. Where is your valedictorian now? Share your response in the comments or in this Google form.