Week 4: Post-Secondary Spotlights

     When you’re young, people love to tell you that time flies but rarely do they emphasize just how many drastic changes are encompassed within

only a few years. The 2020-2021 school year ends a week from today. After graduation, the Highlands High School class of 2021 will be making their own mark on the world. 254 individuals are preparing to leave the nest and follow their own unique paths, unsure of what the rest of their lives will bring.

     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.

     Senior Kaela Grubbs will be attending the Christ College of Nursing and Health Sciences in the fall, with hopes of becoming a pediatric hematology-oncology nurse. Hematology-oncology nurses work with child blood and bone patients, particularly those with leukemia or other blood diseases.

     “My niece has leukemia, so I have a connection with that. I’ve always wanted to work in a healthcare profession, and I’ve always wanted to work with kids because I love kids. Deciding that was easy once it occurred, so I can help the children who are going through what she went through.”

     Grubbs also explained that although she knew what she wanted her career path to look like all along, choosing a school for the next four years was a journey.

     “It was hard at first choosing where I wanted to go because I didn’t know if I wanted to stay home or go away. I was pretty set on [Eastern Kentucky University], but then I discovered Christ, and I toured. They’re so hands-on, and that’s perfect for me because I’m more hands-on rather than bookwork. It’ll be a way better way for me to learn.”

     Another student, Corina Mills, is also planning to enter the healthcare industry. She will attend Johns Hopkins University in the fall, majoring in public health and neuroscience on the pre-med track.

     Mills was also career-focused during her college search. 

     She reflected, “I’m pretty confident that I want to go to medical school and pursue a career in the healthcare field, so that really was the driving factor in my college application process. I applied to schools that had really good pre-med programs or BS/MD programs, which are programs where you can go to undergrad and medical school all at the same time. “

     While the healthcare field will be gaining these two students, senior Devlin Cassidy plans to pursue a different path. He will be attending Norwich University as a cybersecurity major and a member of their naval ROTC program. 

     “Originally I wanted to go to the U.S Naval Academy. I got everything, the nomination and all of the ACT scores and fitness tests done, but ended up just coming short of being accepted. I had a couple backup plans and applied to [other] schools. I wanted someplace where I could really have that leadership experience that the Naval Academy would have offered me, and I wanted to go to a military type-based school.” 

     Although this isn’t the path he originally envisioned for himself, he is looking forward to his time in Vermont.

     “Norwich University, where ROTC started for the country, it’s a two-hundred-year-old college, gave me the highest offer. I wanted to just see where that goes and hopefully become an officer in the Navy.”

     When it comes to the college process, Grubbs advised students to start early in order to maximize scholarship opportunities.

     “If you’re undecided about college, look soon because it’ll come fast. Christ was the last place I looked, and so I was late on deadlines. I didn’t get any of the big scholarships because I waited a while to look into them.”

     She also mentioned that while it should be somewhat of a factor, students shouldn’t always let potential salary earnings influence their career paths and interests. 

     “Money isn’t going to help you if you aren’t loving the job. Definitely pick something that you’re passionate about and have a connection with because that’ll be the best for you.”

     In regards to finances, Mills advised that scholarships are more readily available than most students may believe, at both an institutional and local level.

     “Don’t apply to a school because of financial aid. It costs almost $80,000 per year to go to Hopkins, but because of my situation, I’m going there for free almost. That really shouldn’t be a worry. I would also say apply to as many local scholarships as you can because they add up.”

     She also told younger students that despite their insecurities or doubts, their dream school could be in reach. 

     “I had the confidence to apply, just because of the chance that I could get in, and I ended up getting in and getting a good financial aid offer. Believe in yourself and that you can achieve what you want, your dream school.”

     Cassidy offered some words of advice in terms of military interest and enlistment.

     “Do you want to serve your four years and grow up and enlist and try to see where that takes you? If you’ve had a chance to grow your leadership skills while here at Highlands, do you want to take that and do something more and potentially be commissioned as an officer and take that stab at a military academy or ROTC unit? My advice is ultimately to plan what you want to do and how much time you want to give.”

     Cassidy’s family has a long-standing military history, and he is looking forward to upholding that. 

     “I’m looking forward to learning a new field, specializing in it, and defending the country I so love. Also giving back to the folks who helped make this country so great.”

     Meanwhile, Grubbs and Mills are both looking forward to their new roles.

     Grubbs noted, “I’m excited to see what [the future] holds and being able to get a good job and meeting all of these people that I don’t even know exist right now that will just be my best friends and colleagues forever.”

     Mills also mentioned, “I’m looking forward to moving to a new place and seeing where I can go with life outside of Fort Thomas. I’ve lived here all my life and I’m excited to see new things, meet new people, and see what things that Baltimore and anywhere else have to offer.”