Local high school students make post-graduation plans

April 26, 2011

By Staff

Student uses a gap year to decide his future

Eastside Catholic High School

With summer approaching, people are planning what they’ll be doing next fall. Underclassmen are preparing themselves for the work that will be demanded of them in higher grades.

For upperclassmen, the traditional expectation is that they’ll begin the college application process or begin actually attending college.

There are other options. People can take gap years, travel, go right to a vocation, attend an international university or do whatever they feel will be a good step into their adult life. The options are not as limited as it may seem.

Neil Kittridge, an Eastside Catholic High School senior, is taking a gap year.

“Really, it’s just that some people don’t know what to do with their lives right off the bat,” he said, “Little Susie over there might want to be a dentist from age 9, but some people don’t know.”

Youths are so pressured these days to know what they want to do five or 10 years down the road.

Some teens go off to college with firm ideas about how a degree will help them achieve their professional goals. Yet the majority of teens go to college solely because The Man tells us it is the next step in the journey towards a successful life.

Amid the pressure from society, our families and the forces of pragmaticism, it is easy to forget that we do have choices.

Kittridge agrees.

“Just having a year to post everything out and decide what you want to do, without wasting thousands on college tuition, is what makes a gap year good,” he said.

Following the path to art school

Issaquah High School

Rich oil pastel paintings of nudes in unconventional poses. A portrait of a woman sporting a coiffure fashioned out of scoops of ice cream. Surrealist musings of distorted faces and optical illusions.

One look through Alex Moni-Sauri’s portfolio and it is apparent why she is attending the Maryland Institute College of Art, a prestigious fine arts university in Baltimore, Md., this fall.

Moni-Sauri, a senior at Issaquah High School, took interest in art from an early age.

“I’ve spent many summers at the Gage Academy of Art in Seattle, where I took classical art classes, such as oil painting, nude sketching, graphite and mosaics,” she said.

The five-week, eight-hour-per-day summer classes paid off. As part of her application to MICA, Moni-Sauri submitted a portfolio of 15-20 pieces that showed off the technical skills she developed through the academy.

In addition to pursuing an illustration major at MICA, Moni-Sauri will take supplementary liberal arts classes.

“That will allow me to continue to look at drawing from life, not just from my own imagination,” she said.

Moni-Sauri is particularly intrigued by the work of Salvador Dali.

“His work is full of contradictions and requires you to suspend reality,” she said.

Moni-Sauri added she, too, hopes to create art that will “make people think about the physical limitations of the world.”

Moni-Sauri’s parents are supportive of her artistic pursuits.

“As long as I know that art is not the most lucrative field, as long as I have explored other fields and options, they are happy,” she said. “Everyone there is following their passions, and that helps you become a better artist.”

Taking an internship to decide a career choice

Liberty High School

When most students graduate from high school, they expect to spend the next four years slaving their way through college. However, some choose to take a more direct path to their dreams.

Liberty High School senior Mandy Hester will embark this fall on a yearlong baking and pastry program at Le Cordon Bleu. Hester already has an internship with a cake shop in Seattle, The People’s Cake.

“I’ve taken an internship … just to see if that’s really what I wanted to do,” she said.

Apparently, it is, because Hester is forgoing a traditional four-year plan in order to follow her dream.

“I want to either open my own cake shop, or work for an elite cake shop in Seattle,” she said.

Baking cakes has been a passion since the beginning of high school.

“I’ve been baking all my life because I bake for my mom a lot, but I started the whole cake thing when I was 14,” Hester said.

Since then, Hester has found her calling.

“I figured out that I had a skill for baking,” she said. “And I thought it would be better to go somewhere that I could focus on that individual thing, instead of taking classes that I didn’t care about.”

Following the dream to study overseas

Skyline High School

Many high school students dream of spending a semester of college studying abroad. Charlotte Brun, a Skyline High School senior, is studying in France for the next three years.

Having moved to Sammamish at age 15, Brun, a French native, expresses deep nostalgia for her roots.

“I have this gut feeling that I need to go back to France,” she said.

Brun trusted her gut.

This fall, she will pursue a three-year Bachelor of Arts degree in transatlantic relations at Sciences Po Reims.

The university, 45 minutes from Paris by high-speed rail, is one of six campuses of the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, an institute that focuses on social science, political science and international relations. Brun said she believes the institute combines the best of France’s and the United States’ education methods.

“It takes both the rigid French methodology and the American approach of Socratic seminars,” she said.

The university has several other unique features. It requires students to study abroad during their third year. The entire student body is bilingual, with all students fluent in English and French. Brun is considering a fourth language herself.

“In addition to improving my Spanish, I’d like to learn Russian, German or Arabic,” she said.

Though Brun enjoys her 20th century Euro-American diplomacy class at Skyline, she said she is excited at the prospects of studying the subject among international students, which make up roughly half of the student body at Sciences Po Reims.

“It will be interesting to see and learn from their different perspectives on history,” she said.

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