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Class of 2016

Where are they headed?

Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld
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They made it. High school is done. Conquered. History. For many, the next step is college – an academic escape and adventure, a chance to learn, and learn how to be an adult, the next step in a life journey.

Once again, as part of an annual tradition, we asked our graduating neighbors to share their college plans with us. What are they most looking forward to? What advice would they give their kindergarten selves if they could?

To find out where more local 2016 grads are heading to college, check out – and contribute to, if you haven’t yet – our annual database of college-bound Buzz seniors. New this year, seniors can send messages to other seniors through our site to congratulate each other, keep in touch, or ask questions about college.

Congratulations, Class of 2016.

Erin Lai

Erin Lai (Senior photo: Erin Rice)

Erin Lai – Condit Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School

Erin Lai’s dream job would be an obstetrics physician’s assistant, and the first step to achieving this dream is studying medical humanities at Baylor University. She said she’s most looking forward to being in a new city with new people even though this is also what scares her the most. If she could, she would advise her kindergarten self not to sing herself to sleep at naptime.

Lane Drager

Lane Drager (Photos: lawellphoto.com)

Lane Drager – Presbyterian School, Episcopal High School

Lane Drager would advise his kindergarten self to study hard and pursue his interests, whether on the football field or in music, because these passions will open doors and lead to great things. He’s heading to Sewanee: The University of the South this fall, where he will study economics, and is looking forward to playing football at the collegiate level. His dream job would be to work in the business side of the music industry. Reflecting on high school, he said one of the funniest moments happened when he was a freshman. The seniors placed alarm clocks in students’ backpacks and set them all to go off at the same time.

Zachary Katz

Zachary Katz (Senior photo: Eric Kleiman Photography)

Zachary Katz – Robert M. Beren Academy

“Don’t ever be scared to fail,” Zachary Katz would advise his kindergarten self. “If you’re scared to fail, you will never try.” He is looking forward to studying finance at the University of Maryland. His dream job is to work for himself and create something “revolutionary” one day.

Kolin Ariza

Kolin Ariza

Kolin Ariza – Condit Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School

Kolin Ariza is looking forward to studying mechanical engineering at the University of Mississippi. His dream job is to become a petroleum engineer. If he could, he would tell his kindergarten self to learn how to tie his own shoes in kindergarten, and not wait till second grade. Thinking back on high school, he says the funniest moment was watching one of his friends slip on water, and sliding all the way down the flight of stairs.

Emily Loncarich

Emily Loncarich (Senior photo: Meredith Flaherty Photography)

Emily Loncarich – Condit Elementary School, Pershing Middle School, St. Agnes Academy

Emily Loncarich will study mechanical engineering at the University of Georgia, and is excited to venture to a new state and meet new people as part of her college adventure. Her dream job is to work for a company that designs airplanes, as she says she’s always been fascinated by air transportation. She would advise her kindergarten self to appreciate naps while she still had the time for them.

Kaitlyn Massin

Kaitlyn Massin (Senior photo: Alan Ross)

Kaitlyn Massin – Condit Elementary School, The Emery/Weiner School

Kaitlyn Massin is looking forward to life at University of Colorado Boulder, where she’s excited to get involved in the school. She hopes to join a community service-oriented club, participate in Greek life, and make good use of the rec center. She would advise her kindergarten self to take her time on all assignments and that it’s not a competition to see who can turn in their work first. Her dream job would be to work for a big public relations firm, and she is leaning toward studying communications.

Camryn Mitchell

Camryn Mitchell (Senior photo: Martin de la Torre)

Camryn Mitchell – River Oaks Elementary, Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart

Camryn Mitchell will head to the University of Southern California to study communications/journalism, which she hopes will set her on the path to a dream job as an entertainment broadcast journalist. She’s looking forward to experiencing what it’s like to live on her own in college. Camryn would advise her kindergarten self not to let the little things matter.

Harrison Rosenthal

Harrison Rosenthal (Senior photo: Jessica Laviage)

Harrison Rosenthal – Condit Elementary School, Trafton Academy, The Emery/Weiner School

Harrison Rosenthal is most looking forward to meeting new people at the University of Michigan, where he’ll study engineering. If he had the opportunity, he would advise his younger self to take advantage of naptime. “You are going to wish you had it in high school.”

Kate Ham

Kate Ham

Kate Ham – River Oaks Elementary, Annunciation Orthodox School, The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts 

Kate Ham is undecided about her major in college, but is most looking forward to life at Stanford University because she’ll have “the opportunity to take renowned classes in a wider variety of subjects.” She would advise her kindergarten self to enjoy herself and explore because “childhood goes by more quickly than you think.”

Quinn Burhans

Quinn Burhans (Senior photo: Michael Martinez Photography)

Quinn Burhans – Kolter Elementary School, The Joy School, St. Pius X High School

Quinn Burhans will study education at Schreiner University, and her dream job is to become an elementary or middle school teacher. She would advise her kindergarten self to remember to ask for help, as struggling isn’t a fun experience. She’s excited to meeting new people in college and also to be in a choir again, as she’s passionate about singing.

Greer Blitzer

Greer Blitzer (Senior photo: Mary Kate Stallings)

Greer Blitzer – Condit Elementary School, Pershing Middle School, Bellaire High School

“Cutting your bangs off doesn’t mean they disappear,” Greer Blitzer would explain to her kindergarten self, and would advise her younger self to stay away from scissors. She’s looking forward to studying psychology at the University of Mississippi and to making lifelong friends at Ole Miss. Her dream job would be to become a well-known actress, but she’s also wanted to be a clinical psychologist since she was 14.

Oliver Wang

Oliver Wang (Senior photo: Adrian Fetterley)

Oliver Wang – St. Thomas’ Episcopal School

Oliver Wang will head to Washington University in St. Louis, where he’ll study pre-medicine. His dream job would be to research pancreatic cancer or stem cells. He’s most looking forward to “the endless opportunities” that college will provide him. If he could, he would advise his younger self to go outside more often. Reflecting on his high school experience, he said the funniest moment for him was getting stuck on the roof of STES while retrieving a Frisbee.

Madison Auerbach

Madison Auerbach (Senior photo: Eric Kleiman Photography)

Madison Auerbach – The Shlenker School, Trafton Academy, St. Pius X High School

Madison Auerbach is heading to Texas A&M University to study biomedical sciences, which will bring her one step closer to her dream job of becoming a veterinarian. She’s most looking forward to starting this new chapter in her life and living on her own. She’d advise her kindergarten self to be a friend to everyone and don’t judge others – “everyone has a story.”

Charles Filby

Charles Filby

Charles Filby – Memorial Lutheran School, Bellaire High School 

This fall, Charles Filby will head to Virginia Tech to study business. He said he’s most looking forward to “the opportunity to make something of myself.” If he could, he would recommend to his younger self to make sure to learn Spanish. Looking back on high school, he said the funniest moments occurred during the 2016 Mr. Bellaire Talent Show.

Emily Soice

Emily Soice

Emily Soice – Parker Elementary School, Johnston Middle School for the Performing and Visual Arts, The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts

“The other kids on the playground can be just as fun as books,” Emily Soice would inform her kindergarten self. She’s most looking forward to learning from professors at Colby College about subjects she loves. She plans to study environmental engineering, and her dream job would be to become a research in mycology, “learning how fungi can save the world.”

Danielle Kaiser

Danielle Kaiser (Senior photo: Erin Rice)

Danielle Kaiser – Gibbs Elementary School (Little Rock, Ark.), Horace Mann Middle School (Little Rock), Bellaire High School

Danielle Kaiser is looking forward to studying economics at The University of Texas at Austin and is excited to take interesting, challenging courses. She’s also looking forward to trying restaurants in Austin. Danielle is aiming to be the CEO or CFO of a major hotel or theme-park chain, and her dream job would be to work for Disney. She would tell her kindergarten self that while sparkly blue corduroy pants and butterfly shirts are “totally awesome,” it’s okay to change it up.

Liana Wang

Liana Wang

Liana Wang – T.H. Rogers, Bellaire High School 

“Sleep while you have the chance – early bedtimes should be valued,” Liana Wang would tell her younger self. That, and be nice to people and not be as worried about what society thinks. She’ll head to Yale University this fall to study global affairs and economics. She’s looking forward to gaining a new sense of independence and possibly studying abroad. Reflecting on high school, she said there are too many funny moments to count, but that she’s “guaranteed a laugh in economics class almost every day.” Her dream job is to become secretary of state or ambassador to the United Nations.

Editor’s note: The Buzz congratulates Liana on recently being named a U.S. Presidential Scholar. Liana was editor of our School Buzz team at Bellaire High School.

Valerie Herrscher

Valerie Herrscher (Senior photo: Alex Aultman)

Valerie Herrscher – St. Thomas’ Episcopal School

This fall, Valerie Herrscher will study kinesiology at Texas Christian University, and she hopes to be a physical therapist. She’s excited to explore a new city and make lifelong friends. She would advise her kindergarten self to take advantage of naptime. She said the funniest moment from high school happened on a school trip to Greece and Italy, when a classmate was pranked into believing that Grecians used pesos, and she kept asking at the stores how many pesos things were.

Scott Kennedy

Scott Kennedy

Scott Kennedy – Wilchester Elementary School, Memorial Middle School, Stratford High School

“Be yourself and follow your excitement,” Scott Kennedy would advise his younger self. He will study business honors at The University of Texas at Austin. Scott looks forward to meeting new people and living in Austin with friends. He has many passions – he would be interested in going into business, journalism, teaching or ministry one day – “but doing what Dude Perfect [sports entertainment group] does sounds like a dream job if there ever was one,” he said.

Andie Chilson

Andie Chilson (Senior photo: Colleen Lastrappes)

Andie Chilson – Hunters Creek Elementary School, The Briarwood School, Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart

Andie Chilson would advise her kindergarten self not to get caught up in the details. “You can’t see it now, but the big picture is coming together piece by piece,” she would say. She’s looking forward to studying communications at Fordham University in New York. She’s most looking forward to “the freedom and conducive environment to individuality and the opportunity to be completely responsible for myself.” Her dream job would be to become editor of the travel column for The New York Times.

David Cook

David Cook

David Cook – Hunters Creek Elementary School, Spring Branch Middle School, Memorial High School

“Never forget kindergarten,” David Cook would tell his younger self. “You actually learn a lot there.” He will study business at the University of Arkansas, and is excited to attend sporting events and trying out new intramural sports. His dream job would be to grow his own business one day.

Merritt Chastain

Merritt Chastain

Merritt Chastain – Valley Oaks Elementary School, Spring Branch Middle School, Memorial High School

“Try hard,” Merritt Chastain would advise his kindergarten self if he could. He’ll study engineering at the University of Arkansas. He’s most looking forward to gaining independence and learning what interests him during college. His dream job would be to become a petroleum engineer for a large oil and gas company. His funniest moment from high school? “I’m not at liberty to say.”

Katie Whalley

Katie Whalley (Senior photo: Elegant Portraits by Kian)

Katie Whalley – The Briarwood School

“Never give up on yourself,” Katie Whalley would encourage her kindergarten self. “As much as you want to give up when something is difficult, you have to just keep on challenging yourself.” This fall, she’ll study elementary education at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, and dreams of becoming a special-education teacher.

Sydney Nelson

Sydney Nelson (Senior photo: Elegant Portraits by Kian)

Sydney Nelson – Katy Elementary School, The Briarwood School 

“Stand up for yourself,” Sydney Nelson would encourage her younger self. She’s heading to Lone Star College-CyFair. Her goal is to teach pre-kindergarten, and her dream would be to own a school that provides resources to teen moms.

Justus Veraart

Justus Veraart

Justus Veraart – Andre Gianton (in France), Niki de St Phalle (France), The Village School

Justus Veraart will head to Hotelschool The Hague in The Netherlands in this fall to study hospitality management. One day, he hopes to become the manager of a country club. If he had the opportunity, he would advise his kindergarten self to have fun and enjoy the moment, and is most looking forward to new experiences and meeting new people in college.

Christian Loutchaninoff

Christian Loutchaninoff

Christian Loutchaninoff – Foster Elementary School, Holy Trinity Episcopal School, St. Pius X High School

Christian Loutchaninoff will head to Marshall University, where he will study music and communications. If he could give his kindergarten self one piece of advice, he would recommend speaking French with his dad more often. He’s most looking forward to college to have the freedom to study what he’s interested in studying. His dream job would be to become lead singer in a rock band one day.

Domenic Patronella

Domenic Patronella (Senior photo: Freeman Photography)

Domenic Patronella – St. Michael Catholic School, St. Thomas High School

One day, Domenic Patronella hopes to become a cardiovascular surgeon, and his first step is the pre-med program at the University of Mississippi. He’s most looking forward to having more independence in college. If he could speak to his kindergarten self, he would say: “Don’t make the same mistakes over and over again.” After reflecting on high school, he says his most special memory includes beating Strake Jesuit all four years in football.

Charlie Meacham

Charlie Meacham

Charlie Meacham – The Awty International School

This fall, Charlie Meacham will head to Carnegie Mellon University to study engineering. He’s looking forward to learning about nanotechnology, spending a year abroad and experiencing four seasons while in college. His dream would be to become a successful entrepreneur, retire early and then become a teacher at Awty. After reflecting on high school, he said one of his funniest moments was dressing up in full Teletubbies regalia for Halloween with three of his best friends. If he could, he would tell his kindergarten self to start juggling a soccer ball.

Bryan Read

Bryan Read

Bryan Read – Memorial Drive Elementary School, Spring Branch Middle School, Memorial High School

"Stop eating Play-Doh," Bryan Read would encourage his younger self. He's looking forward to studying business at The University of Texas at Austin. His dream job would be to become a composer for movie soundtracks.

Lizzy Fallon

Lizzy Fallon

Lizzy Fallon – Annunciation Orthodox School, St. John’s School, Episcopal High School

If she could, Lizzy Fallon would reassure her younger self that waking up at 5 a.m. every weekend for soccer games when she was little, and traveling throughout the country for field hockey every weekend when she got older, would be worth it one day. She will head to Columbia University this fall and plans to study political science. She’s most looking forward to living in New York City, and her dream job would be to become a lawyer one day.

Sarah Drew

Sarah Drew (Senior photo: Kaye Marvins Photography)

Sarah Drew – Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart

“Don’t be shy to make friends,” Sarah Drew would tell her kindergarten self. She will study engineering at the University of Oklahoma. Looking back at high school, she said her engineering class during her junior year changed her life. “That class helped me get out of my comfort zone and made me realize that I want to be an engineer.”

Charles Dorfman

Charles Dorfman (Senior photo: Freeman Photography)

Charles Dorfman – St. John’s School

“Enjoy the time you have growing up because it goes by very fast,” Charles Dorfman would tell his kindergarten self. “Do everything you can – even if you are forced to by your mom. You will be glad you did most of the time.” He’ll study economics at Sewanee: The University of the South this fall. Sewanee is on top of a mountain, he says, and he plans to take advantage of all of the outdoor activities available to students and to join the lacrosse team.

Paul Labanowski

Paul Labanowski (Senior photo: Margaret Rotan Photography)

Paul Labanowski – West University Elementary School, St. John’s School

Paul Labanowski will head to the University of Michigan this fall to study finance. His dream job would be to become a hedge fund manager. He’s most looking forward to college for the change in scenery. If he had the opportunity, he would encourage his kindergarten self to read more often.

Kushal Kuchibhotla

Kushal Kuchibhotla

Kushal Kuchibhotla – Fahaheel Al-Watanieh Indian Private School (Ahmadi, Kuwait), Alexander-Smith Academy

“Have the same cheerful persona and be able to enjoy every moment to the fullest,” Kushal Kuchibhotla would tell his younger self. He’ll start college at the University of California, Irvine this fall and plans to study computer science and engineering. His dream job is to be a software developer and to “develop innovative applications that will transform the quality of life, especially for the disabled.” He says he’s looking forward to college to develop himself intellectually, socially and personally. 

Jillian Bass

Jillian Bass (Senior photo: Al Torres)

Jillian Bass – The Kinkaid School

Jillian Bass is most looking forward to being in a new environment with new people in a new city while at Chapman University, where she’ll study history. Her dream job is to one day become editor of a fashion magazine. If she could give her kindergarten self one piece of advice, she would say: “Make friends with boys, in addition to girls, because they can be great friends later on in life.”

Jared Burch

Jared Burch

Jared Burch – River Oaks Elementary School, Presbyterian School, Episcopal High School

“Everything is going to work out,” Jared Burch would tell his younger self. He’ll head to Baylor University this fall to study business and is most looking forward to attending Baylor basketball games. After reflecting on high school, he said the funniest moment was when he performed a stand-up comedy routine with a friend in front of the entire school. His dream job would be to become a stand-up comedian.

Madeline Graham

Madeline Graham

Madeline Graham – River Oaks Elementary School, Lanier Middle School, Lamar High School

“Put yourself out there,” Madeline Graham would encourage her kindergarten self. “Try new things and meet new people.” Madeline will be taking her own advice when she starts college this fall at The University of Texas at Austin, where she’ll study neuroscience and participate in the Plan II Honors program. She’s most looking forward to the diverse course options and hopes to one day work in the medical field and help people.

Eli Winter, Isaac Winter

Eli and Isaac Winter (Senior photo: Tasha Gorel)

Eli and Isaac Winter – West University Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Carnegie Vanguard High School

Eli and Isaac Winter have been together since birth but will be heading to different colleges this fall. Eli will attend the University of Chicago, and Isaac will study English/history at Lake Forest College near Chicago. Eli says he’s looking forward to “everything but the wind and the winter,” including Chicago’s music scene, deep-dish pizza, and just being at the University of Chicago. Isaac says he’s most looking forward to the “community aspect” of college and to start learning how to fend for himself in the real world. Eli isn’t sure what he would tell his kindergarten self (“there’s a lot of advice,” he said) and Isaac would tell his younger self to be carefree and have adventures. Also, “dare to be different,” Isaac would say.

Amanda Barsky

Amanda Barsky (Senior photo: Lauren Schoen)

Amanda Barsky – West University Elementary School, The Emery/Weiner School

Amanda Barsky would advise her kindergarten self to “try everything at least once, except for the things you know you don’t like.” She’s looking forward to starting college at Washington University in St. Louis and is excited to explore the city, take new classes and meet new people. Her dream job would be to become editor at a publishing company one day. Looking back on high school, she said her favorite memories are from school trips.

Peyton Ross

Peyton Ross (Senior photo: Freeman Photography)

Peyton Ross – West University Elementary School, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Thomas High School

Peyton will study business at Louisiana State University. His dream is to be CEO of a large company. He’s most looking forward to having independence in college, including not having to be home at a certain time. He would advise his kindergarten self to go with the flow and not get stressed out. While in kindergarten, he had many good friends, though they all went to different middle schools. He said he also has a great friend group in high school, too, and although they’re all going to different colleges, he knows his friendships are lifelong.

Sam Bastian

Sam Bastian

Sam Bastian – West University Elementary School, Annunciation Orthodox School, Strake Jesuit

“Work hard,” Sam Bastian would advise his younger self. “It pays off. Throughout all the experiences of my life, I have found that I get the most out of things that I put a lot of effort into.” He’ll be working hard at the University of Michigan, where he’ll study business administration. He’s looking forward to football Saturdays, with Jim Harbaugh as head coach.

Jackson Morris

Jackson Morris (Senior photo: Freeman Photography)

Jackson Morris – Second Baptist School, St. Thomas High School

“Take risks because, if you never try, you cannot succeed,” Jackson Morris would tell his younger self. He will study business at Georgetown University and is most looking forward to walking down Georgetown “Hill” into Washington D.C. with new friends to watch the presidential inauguration. His dream job would be to own a financial-investment firm.

Many teachers inspired these graduates along the way. Read more on which teachers made a difference and why.

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