Post-Secondary Spotlights: Week Three

Julianna Russ

     The senior students here at Highlands are only two weeks away from leaving the nest, and they will soon be forging their own paths. While some of them are off to college in the fall, others are off to trade school, the workforce, the military, or they are pursuing something else. The most important thing when deciding what to do after high school is that students make the right choice for themselves. Those choices are often different, and they should be; everyone’s post-secondary journey is unique.

     This week, three different seniors detail their decision-making process as it pertains to their post-secondary plans, offering advice to younger students along the way.

     Gabe Reynolds is a Highlands senior who will be entering the workforce in the fall to build his expertise as a welder. After a year in the workforce, he plans to attend the Hobart Institute of Welding Technology to earn a welding certification and more opportunities along with it. 

     Reynolds said that his desire to become a welder stemmed from familial ties, as well as the vocational school program offered by Highlands. 

     “My dad first told me about it because he was a welder for a little bit when I was younger. My grandpa was a welder too. I saw that they were doing trades over at Campbell [County High School], the vocational school. Welding seemed pretty cool, so I started doing that, and I like it, it’s pretty fun. It’s hard, but it gets easier as you go.” 

     Reynolds mentioned that at the vocational school, different trade school programs came and marketed themselves to the students. 

     “My teacher recommended Hobart because he went there, and then I talked to them, and then I scheduled a visit to go up there and see their facility. Their facility is very nice, it’s [in the] top five in the nation for welding institutes, so I thought it was a really good opportunity for me.”

     Dominic Robinson, a football player at Highlands for the past few years, will continue his athletic and academic career at Thomas More University, majoring in graphic design. The TMU football team starts working out right after graduation, with the season beginning in full swing in August.

     Robinson explained that for him, TMU was the obvious choice. 

     “Thomas More was the last school that I visited, and it’s close to home, all of my friends are around here, the facilities are great, and all the coaches really seem to buy into wanting me there.”

     He also mentioned that the decision to play a sport at the collegiate level is a serious one.

     “Playing at the college level is going to be a lot different than high school, it’s definitely more of a job. When you have scholarship money on the line, it’s a little stressful because you have to perform to keep that money.”

     Another senior, Kerison Bailey, will be attending Kentucky Wesleyan College in the fall as a zoology and environmental science major. Her major is not widely offered, so that helped her as she narrowed down her college search.

     “There aren’t that many colleges around us who have zoology. I think there’s like one in Kentucky and two in Ohio. I needed that KEES money, so I decided to go to Kentucky Wesleyan. It’s a small college, but I think it is the best choice.”

     When asked to give advice to younger students, Bailey was pragmatic.

     “Don’t overthink it, but don’t underthink it. It’s okay to not know what you want to do, but you still need to have some sort of plan going into it. But don’t overthink it and plan ahead so much that as soon as you change your mind, you feel like the world is collapsing in on you.”

     Reynolds’ message to younger students was more direct.

     “Go for it. There are so many opportunities now because nobody wants to do it anymore. It’s getting really big. There’s nothing wrong with going to college, but if you’re more hands-on, you can go into a trade. There are so many different trades, not just welding. Electrician, plumbing, autobody, autotech, masonry, carpentry, anything. There are tons of things you can do with it.”

     Robinson said he is excited to start the next chapter of his life, and especially to get out of the high school building after four long years.

     “I’m excited to meet new people and my new teammates, and see what the future holds.”

     On the other hand, Reynolds is looking forward to his economic prospects after graduation.

     “Getting a real job and making real money, just so I can keep going further and doing the stuff that I fell in love with.”

     Bailey also reflected, making the point that most of the senior class is ready for the transition into adulthood. Now, all they have to do is take the leap.

     “It’s about time we became more independent and we get out of high school and start to do what we want to do in life.”