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Class of 2020

Where are they headed?

Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld
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For the Class of 2020, the conclusion of their senior year – and the culmination of many years of education – has been remarkably different than anything they, or their families, could have expected. Despite the loss of senior-year milestones – and the uncertainty of what the fall will look like – these new grads are looking forward to college experiences. Here, our graduating neighbors share their college plans and look back on their favorite high school memories. They also reflect on what advice they’d give their kindergarten selves, if they could. Congratulations, Class of 2020! We are so proud of you. 

Eyimofe Ariyo

Eyimofe Ariyo – Southwestern University

Eyimofe Ariyo – Lycée Louis Pasteur (Canada), Ermitage International of France (France), The Awty International School 

Eyimofe Ariyo is off to Southwestern University where he plans to study biology/pre-medicine. He’s looking forward to playing soccer plus the social aspects of college. His dream is to become an orthopedic surgeon, specializing in ACL repairs and other knee surgeries. His favorite high school moment was when he spoke to a group of younger students about life as a student-athlete and how to balance academic life with social life. If he could give advice to his younger self, he’d emphasize the importance of truly believing in yourself and giving every single thing your all. 

Natalie Atkinson

Natalie Atkinson – University of Houston (Senior Photo: Jody Goldstein, Child Champ Photography)

Natalie Atkinson – St. Mark Lutheran School, Valley Oaks Elementary School, Spring Branch Middle School, Memorial High School 

Natalie Atkinson is heading to the University of Houston, where she’ll study speech therapy. “I would be happy with any job that I could help someone become a better version of themselves.” She’s looking forward to pursuing a more specific path. Her favorite memories from high school are sitting with her best friends at the same table they claimed freshman year, as “this was the place that we could always laugh, share funny stories and be with one another.” She’d tell her kindergarten self to have confidence in her actions, focus more on what she’s interested in, and have fun and enjoy life.


Aaron Ayach – The University of Texas at Austin

Aaron Ayach – Robert M. Beren Academy  

Aaron Ayach is heading to The University of Texas at Austin. His major is undecided, but he’s looking forward to meeting new people and experiencing all that Austin has to offer. If he could, he’d share this advice with his kindergarten self: “Enjoy all the time you have because time goes faster than you would expect.”

Olivia Baba

Olivia Baba – Texas A&M University (Senior Photo: Kelli Nicole Photography)

Olivia Baba – School at St. George Place, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School 

Olivia Baba is heading to Texas A&M University, where she’ll major in international studies with a pre-law focus. She aspires to be an international lawyer and is looking forward to meeting new people. “My favorite moments from high school are the ones spent with my best friends, both inside and outside of school.” If she could, she’d tell her kindergarten self to have faith in herself and to remember to have fun along the way.  

Ava Barcelo

Ava Barcelo – Texas A&M University (Senior photo: Jill Huston)

Ava Barcelo – Saint Thomas’ Episcopal 

Ava Barcelo is off to Texas A&M University, where she’ll study neuroscience; she dreams of becoming a neurosurgeon. She’s looking forward to making friendships that will last a lifetime. Her favorite high school moment was “walking into school on the first day of senior year, knowing I was about to start my last year of a 13-year journey at St. Thomas’ Episcopal where I got to grow up with amazing friends and teachers.” She’d tell her younger self: “Surround yourself with your best supporters because they will help you succeed.”  

Michael Bell

Michael Bell – Duke University

Michael Bell – Condit Elementary School, The Kinkaid School 

Michael Bell is off to Duke University, where he’ll study physics. His dream job would be an astronaut. He’s looking forward to attending Duke basketball games. His favorite high school memory was “taking gold in the 400 freestyle relay with Charlie Brennig, Pryce Pivec and Cade Duncan at the 2020 SPC swimming and diving championships.” He’d advise his kindergarten self to appreciate the 8 p.m. bedtime – “you’ll learn to miss it in high school.” 

Maria Del Carmen Bello

Maria Del Carmen Bello – University of St. Thomas (Senior photo: Freeman Photography)

Maria Del Carmen Bello – St. Thomas More Parish School, St. Cecilia Catholic School, Incarnate Word Academy  

Maria Del Carmen Bello is heading to the University of St. Thomas to major in liberal arts/humanities. Ideally, she’d love to be a Broadway actress, “but since that is very difficult, I wouldn’t mind finding a job where I could get paid to sample good food.” She’s looking forward to living more independently and making new friendships. Her favorite high-school moments were the “countless laughs I enjoyed in choir and theater that made my high school experience so much fun.” She’d remind her kindergarten self to cherish every minute of nap time – “you’ll miss it later.” 

Luke Bennett

Luke Bennett – The University of Texas at Austin

Luke Bennett – Sacred Heart Catholic School, St. Thomas High School

Luke Bennett is heading to The University of Texas at Austin, where he’ll study civil engineering. His dream is to “own a construction company that will build hospitals, homes and other things that benefit my community.” He’s looking forward to new opportunities, personal growth and starting his career. His favorite high school memories are time with his friends; he says he developed relationships that will last a lifetime. He’d tell his younger self: “Work hard, but most importantly, enjoy every moment.”

Noah Berry

Noah Berry – California Polytechnic State University (Senior Photo: Tanya Radoff Photography)

Noah Berry – Beth Yeshurun Day School, The Emery/Weiner School 

Noah Berry is heading to California Polytechnic State University, where he’ll study business and play Division 1 tennis. His dream is to be an entrepreneur and professional tennis player. He’s looking forward to playing tennis in college and meeting new people from different places. His favorite high school moment was signing his National Letter of Intent along with his cousin, Peter Berry. He’d tell his kindergarten self: “Work as hard as you can and enjoy the journey because it could be over at any second.” 

Peter Berry

Peter Berry – University of Alabama (Senior Photo: Tanya Radoff Photography)

Peter Berry – Beth Yeshurun Day School, The Emery/Weiner School

Peter Berry is heading to the University of Alabama, where he’ll study general business. He’s looking forward to playing wheelchair basketball at the collegiate level and is excited to meet new people. He isn’t sure of a dream job but loves helping people, public speaking and playing basketball. One favorite high school moment was when his wheelchair basketball team and the Emery varsity basketball team scrimmaged in wheelchairs in front of the student body. He’d share this advice with his kindergarten self: “Cherish all of the times you have right now and do not take what you have for granted. Enjoy each and every moment to the best of your ability because you never know how fast it can be taken away from you, and somebody else might have it worse.”

Vaughn Beyer

Vaughn Beyer – University of Mississippi (Senior photo: Long Shots Photography)

Vaughn Beyer – Briargrove Elementary School, Memorial Middle School, Stratford High School 

Vaughn Beyer is headed to the University of Mississippi to study business. He’s looking forward to pledging a fraternity and meeting new people. His favorite memory from high school is playing on the Stratford lacrosse team. His dream is to work with his dad in the wine business one day. If he could, he’d tell his younger self to focus on one thing at a time. 

Morgan Brandt

Morgan Brandt – Pace University (Photos: Jack Brandt)

Morgan Brandt – Beth Yeshurun Day School, The Emery/Weiner School 

Morgan Brandt is off to Pace University in NYC, where she’ll study arts and entertainment management. She dreams of becoming a Broadway casting director. She’s looking forward to independence and interesting internships. She’d tell her kindergarten self: “Your one-woman concerts will pay off for you in so many ways, so do not stop performing.” Her favorite high school moment was singing at her school’s opening ceremonies senior year with her best friends. 

Tommy Brownfield, Annie Brownfield

Tommy Brownfield – Stephen F. Austin State University, Annie Brownfield – University of South Carolina

Annie Brownfield – West University Elementary, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School; Tommy Brownfield – West University Elementary, Pin Oak Middle, St. Thomas High School 

Annie Brownfield is off to the University of South Carolina while Tommy Brownfield is heading to Stephen F. Austin State University. Annie plans to study public health, as she’d like to be a dermatologist, and Tommy is taking on forestry, as he dreams of becoming a park ranger. They’re both looking forward to gaining a new independence. Annie’s favorite high school memory was regional finals for the 4x4 relay in track, and Tommy’s is laughing with his friends. If they could give advice to their younger selves, Annie would say, “Have an open mind,” and Tommy would say, “Enjoy each moment.” 

Spenser Dale

Spenser Dale – University of Missouri (Senior photo: Jennifer Fails Photography)

Spenser Dale – Condit Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School 

Spenser Dale is heading to the University of Missouri to study journalism. He’d like to be involved in the sports world, potentially reporting on sports news. He’s looking forward to the university experience. His favorite high school moment was participating in the senior Mr. Bellaire pageant with his friends. He’d tell his kindergarten self: “Eat more veggies.” 

Ben Dauber

Ben Dauber – Vanderbilt University (Senior photo: Natural Expressions)

Ben Dauber – Condit Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, The Emery/Weiner School 

Ben Dauber is heading to Vanderbilt University, where he’ll study mechanical engineering. His dream would be to work as a NASA engineer. He’s looking forward to making new friends. His favorite high school memory was winning a football state championship as a senior captain. He’d tell his kindergarten self: “When in doubt, do.” 

Madison Dodson

Madison Dodson – University of Alabama

Madison Dodson – Horn Elementary School, Trafton Academy, Bellaire High School

Madison Dodson is off to the University of Alabama where she will take on pre-med/biomedical science. She dreams of becoming a doctor in pediatrics. She’s looking forward to having freedom in college. Her favorite moment from high school was making varsity on the Bellaire Belles dance team. She’d advise her kindergarten self to “pay attention more and don’t be afraid to ask teachers questions!” 

Lauren Dotson

Lauren Dotson – Trinity University (Senior photo: Sandy Dotson)

Lauren Dotson – Kolter Elementary School, Meyerland Performing and Visual Arts Middle School, Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts 

Lauren Dotson is off to Trinity University, where she will study bioengineering. Her dream is to become an orthopedic surgeon, and she hopes to couple her medical degree with her engineering degree and create new prosthetics. “Weirdly enough, I'm most excited about staying up late, studying in the library, debating over some new topic with my friends. I'm excited for the college grind that I know will be satisfying in the most exhausting, yet extraordinary ways.” She’d tell her kindergarten self: “Continue to dream big despite what others believe is possible. You are your only barrier, if you can overcome fear then you can set your mind to anything. Also, books are awesome. Read more!”

Spencer Frederickson

Spencer Frederickson – Wake Forest University (Senior photo: Child Champ Photography)

Spencer Frederickson – Frostwood Elementary School, Memorial Middle School, Memorial High School 

Spencer Frederickson is heading to Wake Forest University, where he’ll study biology. He’s looking forward to freedom and self-sufficiency, as well as having new experiences and making new friends in a different part of the country. If he could, he’d advise his kindergarten self: “It’s ok to ignore the line leader every once in a while. Don’t be afraid to step out of line and do your own thing.” 

Jonathan Frumovitz

Jonathan Frumovitz – University of Pennsylvania (Senior photo: lawellphoto.com)

Jonathan Frumovitz – The Kinkaid School 

Jonathan Frumovitz is off to the University of Pennsylvania. He’d like to work with Doctors Without Borders in a French-speaking region. He’s looking forward to making new friends. His favorite high school experience was planning an all-school hamburger cookout with a live band and snow cones. He’d reassure his kindergarten self: “No matter what anybody else says, your Dora the Explorer backpack really is cool.”  

Thomas Fuller

Thomas Fuller – Texas Tech University (Senior photo: Amanda Dearborn)

Thomas Fuller – Condit Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, St. Thomas High School 

Thomas Fuller is heading to Texas Tech University; his major is undeclared, but he’s interested in marketing. He’s looking forward to meeting new people and seeing new things. His favorite high school memories were spent on the lacrosse field. He’d remind his kindergarten self to work hard and enjoy school. 

Matthew Galli

Matthew Galli – The University of Texas at Austin

Matthew Galli – Mark Twain Elementary School, St. Vincent De Paul Catholic School, St. Thomas High School, Lamar High School 

Matthew Galli is heading to The University of Texas at Austin, where he will study neuroscience and psychology. He plans to pursue a PhD/MD in neuroscience. He’s looking forward to enjoying life in college. His favorite moments from high school were spending time with his friends. He’d advise his kindergarten self: “Get out there and just do it!”  

Alessandra Garofalo

Alessandra Garofalo – Texas A&M University (Senior photo: Margaret Rotan)

Alessandra Garofalo – St. Michael’s Catholic School, Spring Branch Middle School, Memorial High School 

Alessandra Garofalo is heading to Texas A&M University, where she’ll study business/finance. Her dream would be to become CEO of a corporation. She’s looking forward to seeing how she and her friends will change and grow after college. Her favorite moment from high school was beating Stratford during her junior year. She’d tell her kindergarten self to always take school seriously. 

Gabby Garofalo

Gabby Garofalo – University of Mississippi (Senior photo: Margaret Rotan)

Gabby Garofalo – St. Michael’s Catholic School, Spring Branch Middle School, Memorial High School 

Gabby Garofalo is off to the University of Mississippi, where she’ll study business. Her dream would be to become CEO of a Fortune 500 company. She’s looking forward to being in a new environment in college and meeting new people. Her favorite moment from high school was beating Stratford. If she could, she’d tell her younger self to pay better attention in class and to get involved in extracurricular activities. 

Isaac Gateno

Isaac Gateno – University of Pennsylvania

Isaac Gateno – Robert M. Beren Academy 

Isaac Gateno is heading to the University of Pennsylvania, where he’ll study politics, philosophy and economics. He dreams of becoming a constitutional lawyer.  He’s looking forward to exploring new opportunities and campus life. His favorite high school moment was going to the TAPPS 1A state finals with his basketball team. He would tell his kindergarten self: “Alright, so there's this thing called bitcoin.... For your birthday, ask Dad to buy you as many as he can. Let your friends laugh at you when you tell them your present because they'll see. They'll all see. Sell every last one of them on December 17, 2017. Thank me later, kid.”

Sophia Ghauri

Sophia Ghauri – Brown University (Senior photo: Margaret Rotan Photography)

Sophia Ghauri – The Kinkaid School 

Sophia Ghauri is heading to Brown University, where she’ll study international and public affairs. She’s looking forward to meeting new people, participating in research and exploring Providence, R.I. She’s most excited about being able to experience a true winter – with snow. She will be part of Brown’s program in Liberal Medical Education and hopes to open her own ophthalmology practice one day. Her favorite high school moment was opening day of the Shapeshifters exhibit at the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston; she participated on the museum’s Teen Council. She’d tell her kindergarten self: “Enjoy every moment because time flies by.” 

Pavithr Goli

Pavithr Goli – Rice University (Senior photo: Peggy Rios)

Pavithr Goli – Barbara Bush Elementary School, T.H. Rogers School, The Village School 

Pavithr Goli is off to Rice University, where he’ll study biochemistry and cell biology in the pre-med track. He dreams of being a sports medicine surgeon for a professional sports franchise. He’s looking forward to meeting new people from diverse backgrounds. His favorite high school moments were competing at the Quiz Bowl National Tournament with his team. “It was very encouraging and fulfilling to see all of the hard work that we put in throughout the year culminate in a very satisfying, yet tense way as we competed against highly ranked teams from all over the nation.” He’d tell his kindergarten self to always pursue his dreams and to cherish every moment. 

Puneetha Goli

Puneetha Goli – Rice University (Senior photo: Peggy Rios)

Puneetha Goli – Barbara Bush Elementary School, T.H. Rogers School, The Village School 

Puneetha Goli is heading to Rice University, where she’ll be on the pre-med track to, eventually, become a cardiovascular surgeon. She’s looking forward to meeting people from different backgrounds. She says her favorite moments were competing with her Model United Nationals team. “From the opening ceremony where we were often nervously shaking our legs in anticipation to the closing ceremonies filled with joyous cheers, I wouldn’t change these moments for anything, and I’m lucky to be able to call my teammates my friends.” If she could chat with her kindergarten self, she’d say to take advantage of all that life has to offer and to live without regrets.

Olivia Golub

Olivia Golub – Tulane University (Senior photo: Marlo Wise)

Olivia Golub – The Shlenker School, The Emery/Weiner School 

Olivia Golub is headed to Tulane University. She would like to be a photojournalist. She’s looking forward to meeting new people from all over the world. She’d advise her kindergarten self: “Always share toys on the playground, and you will have lots of friends. Everyone needs more friends!” Her favorite moment was during their Big Bend trip during her freshman year. “We hiked to the top of Emery Peak…. It took about three hours and once on top, together with our best friends, we looked out and felt proud together of what we had accomplished together.” 

Johnathan Gooden

Johnathan Gooden - University of Houston

Johnathan Gooden – Yellowstone Academy, Second Baptist School

Johnathan Gooden is heading to University of Houston to study Business. He’s looking forward to enjoying college and getting ready for his future career. Reflecting on high school, his favorite moments included playing football and basketball with his teammates. If he could, he’d remind his kindergarten self: “Work hard, think clearly, give back.”

John Groff

John Groff – Texas Tech University

John Groff – St. Vincent De Paul Catholic School, St. Thomas High School 

John Groff is heading to Texas Tech University where he’ll pursue pre-law/political science. His dream is to become a lawyer. He’s looking forward to independence. He’d tell his kindergarten self not to take everything so seriously. His favorite high school experience was a Spring Break trip to Lake Travis with his friends.

Penelope Hertoghe

Penelope Hertoghe – University of Brussels

Penelope Hertoghe – Angelusinstituut of Brussels (Brussels), St. George's British International School of Rome (Rome), The Awty International School 

Penelope Hertoghe is heading to University of Brussels, where she’ll study business engineering. She’s looking forward to gaining more independence and discovering a new lifestyle in another city. She says her dream is to “work with the purpose of making the world a better place to live in through international collaboration, and helping the sustainable development of our planet.” Her favorite high school memory was the start of a field hockey team during her senior year – their last win during the Houston City Tournament sticks with her as one of her favorite moments. She’d tell her younger self: “Enjoy all the moments you spend in school, even during hard times, because I realize how much I miss it when we are forced to quarantine!”

Travis Ho

Travis Ho – Vanderbilt University (Senior photo: FrenchBlue Photography)

Travis Ho – T.H. Rogers School; St. John’s School 

Travis Ho is heading to Vanderbilt University, where he plans to major in cognitive studies. He’s looking forward to “having new opportunities in finding things I’m passionate about.” His dream job would be an NBA coach. His favorite moment from high school was winning the Periwinkle Foundation Kickball Tournament with his classmates his senior year. If Travis could advise his kindergarten self, he’d say: “Be comfortable being uncomfortable.” 

Rachel James

Rachel James – Texas A&M University (Senior photo: Natural Expressions Photography)

Rachel James – Condit Elementary School, Trafton Academy, Second Baptist School 

Rachel James is heading to Texas A&M University, where she’ll major in business. She’d love a career in business that also allows her to spend time with family. She’s looking forward to new experiences and people. She says her favorite high school moments were “all the Friday nights spent in the bleachers, surrounded by friends, cheering on our team together as a family!” She’d tell her young self not to sweat the small stuff so much and “enjoy your time while things are simple!”

Alec Jazaeri

Alec Jazaeri – Sewanee: The University of the South (Senior photo: Rachel Hudgins)

Alec Jazaeri – Meriwether Lewis Elementary (Charlottesville, Va.), River Oaks Baptist School, St. John’s School 

Alec Jazaeri, a lacrosse recruit, is off to Sewanee: The University of the South and plans to study economics and English. He’s looking forward to new friendships and interesting classes. His dream would be becoming a U.S. ambassador. His favorite high school moment was beating Kinkaid in varsity lacrosse in overtime his sophomore year. He’d tell his kindergarten self: “Keep having fun and living in the moment.”

Reagan Jones

Reagan Jones – University of Houston

Reagan Jones – Coldwell Elementary, Pershing Middle School, Lamar High School  

Reagan Jones will take some courses at Houston Community College and then the University of Houston, where she’ll study visual and performing arts/acting. “I want you to see me on your TV or on your movie screen!” She’s looking forward to pushing herself in college and working hard. Her favorite high school moment was when the Lamar Texan band won the open national championship. “This is the first time in our school history that the band has received a title on the national level … and in my senior year when I am Color Guard captain!” She’d tell her younger self: “Don’t try to ‘fit in.’ Being normal is overrated.”

Reagan Kimzey

Reagan Kimzey – Macalester College (Senior photo: Joanna Brandt)

Reagan Kimzey – Horn Elementary School, Pershing Middle School, Bellaire High School  

Reagan Kimzey is headed to Macalester College, where she plans to major in liberal arts. She says her dream job “consists of music, travel, people and social justice, so if anyone knows anything that fits that criteria, please let me know!” She’s looking forward to accomplishing new things on her own, making new friends, and snow. She’d reassure her younger self that it’s not necessary to know how to tie shoes in order to attend kindergarten. She’d also say: “Don’t worry about growing up so much and cherish the time you have as a kid.” 

Abbie Kleban

Abbie Kleban – Penn State University (Senior photo: Lisa Beth Photography)

Abbie Kleban – Beth Yeshurun Day School, The Emery/Weiner School 

Abbie Kleban is off to Penn State University, where she’ll study sports medicine/athletic training. She dreams of being an athletic trainer for a professional sports team. She’s excited to become more independent, meet new people and immerse herself in new opportunities. She has “many favorite moments, and I have realized, like many other seniors out there that have had our senior year cut short, how much I will miss the comfort of walking through the doors of my high school.” She’d tell her kindergarten self to remember her strengths and not to compare herself to others. 

Claire Lemel

Claire Lemel – University of Colorado Boulder (Senior photo: Alan Ross)

Claire Lemel – Hamilton Elementary School (Cypress), The Emery/Weiner School  

Claire Lemel is heading to the University of Colorado Boulder, where she’ll study communications. Her dream is to work in the bridal industry. She’s excited to go on new adventures and meet new people. She says one memory that stands out to her is the 11th-grade spring trip to New York City. She’d tell her kindergarten self: “Be yourself and don’t worry about what others think of you.” 

Audrey Leonard

Audrey Leonard – Texas A&M University (Senior photo: Annette Boatwright Photography)

Audrey Leonard – Condit Elementary School, St. Mark’s Episcopal School, St. Agnes Academy 

Audrey Leonard is off to Texas A&M University, where she’ll study public health. She’d love to be a physician’s assistant and work with children. “I have so much respect for healthcare workers and hope to do my part one day.” She’s looking forward to meeting new people. Her favorite high school memory is Friday night football games. She’d tell her younger self: “Work hard in school, and you can achieve anything.” 

Anna Macia

Anna Macia – The University of Texas at Austin (Senior photo: Ashley Kennedy)

Anna Macia – Condit Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Webber Academy (Canada), Bellaire High School 

Anna Macia is off to The University of Texas at Austin, where she’ll study biomedical engineering. Her dream is to be CEO of a biomedical institute. She’s looking forward to meeting new people. Her favorite high school memory was being part of the student section at the homecoming game during her senior year. “Almost everyone I knew was there and in red-out, and everyone was so hyped up, jumping around and bopping to the music from the band. It was straight out of an idyllic high school movie.” She’d tell her kindergarten self: “Put yourself out there and always lead with ‘Yes!’ Also, never take yourself too seriously – life is more fun when you can laugh at yourself.” 

Emily Madaras

Emily Madaras – Rice University

Emily Madaras – Wilchester Elementary School, Memorial Middle School, Stratford High School 

Emily Madaras is heading to Rice University, where she’ll study biochemistry and cell biology. Her dream is to become a cancer researcher at Baylor College of Medicine and she hopes to discover a cure for breast cancer. She loves to bake so she plans to start her own recipe blog or baking business. “I ended up graduating three years early because I am determined to fulfill my dreams. To other students like me, I would say that if you have something that you deeply want to do and that takes priority over your life, then don't wait to be happy and achieve your dreams a few years from now – do whatever it takes!” If she could advise her younger self, she’d say to never be afraid to pursue something that you really want to do, no matter how challenging it seems. 

Morgan Maddox

Morgan Maddox – Texas A&M University (Senior photo: Kristy Gindorf, Images by Kristy)

Morgan Maddox – Valley Oaks Elementary School, Spring Branch Middle School, Memorial High School 

Morgan Maddox is off to Texas A&M University, where she’ll study engineering. Her favorite high school moment was “getting to dance on the football field every Friday night lights with all of the Markettes and make lifelong friends.” She says if she could advise her kindergarten self, she’d say: “Embrace all parts of life because it will shape you into who you are.” 

Reeti Mangal

Reeti Mangal – Cornell University (Senior photo: Jordan Fullen)

Reeti Mangal – Annunciation Orthodox School, St. John’s School 

Reeti Mangal is heading to Cornell University, where she’ll study global and public health sciences. She’d like to be a lawyer. She’s looking forward to freedom. Her favorite high school moment was “foosball in Senior Country.” She’d tell her kindergarten self: “Don’t just study for the grades – study because you enjoy learning.” 

Liza Meyer

Liza Meyer – The University of Texas at Austin (Senior photo: Ashley Thornhill, Hey Pretty Baby Photography)

Liza Meyer – Condit Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, The Emery/Weiner School 

Liza Meyer is heading to The University of Texas at Austin, where she’ll study biology/pre-med. Her dream is to become a plastic surgeon. She’s excited to live independently and grow as a person. Her favorite moment from high school was playing the lead role in Mary Poppins. “It was exhilarating to play the title character of a show and serve as a leader in the theater department.” She’d advise her kindergarten self to work hard in all subjects, regardless of whether she’s passionate about them or not. 

Alex and Gabrielle Monson

Alex and Gabrielle Monson – Trinity University, University of Oklahoma (Senior photo: lawellphoto.com)

Alex and Gabrielle Monson – Rummel Creek Elementary School, Memorial Middle School, Memorial High School  

Alex Monson is off to Trinity University, where he’ll take on pre-medical studies, as he hopes to pursue a career as a trauma surgeon. Gabrielle Monson is headed to The University of Oklahoma, where she will study sports management, as she dreams of becoming general manager for the Houston Astros. Alex says his favorite high school moment was this shortened baseball season, his only year on varsity. “This ended up being our final game ever. I went 5/6 (I went up to bat 6 times and got 5 hits) and played great defense, which was a happy way to end a sad season. This moment was the culmination of all my hard work I put in since I was 3 to be the best baseball player I could be.” Gabrielle also achieved a dream in high school: “... being Major (head officer) of the Memorial Markettes, and I will forever be grateful to have had that opportunity.” If Alex could chat with his kindergarten self, he’d say to always work harder and study more than you think you need. Gabrielle would say not to worry so much about what other people think and to be happy and confident in yourself. 

Genna Montalbano

Genna Montalbano – The University of Texas (Senior photo: Ling Wang Photography)

Genna Montalbano – Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart  

Genna Montalbano is off to The University of Texas to study communications. Her dream job would be CEO of a major company. “I have attended Duchesne since PK4 and have completely loved my experience. I have made lifelong friends whom I know I will be friends with for the rest of my life. I am definitely ready to spread my wings and experience a large university with brand new experiences.” She’d tell her younger self not to stress over little things and to focus on the big picture, set goals and work toward them. 

Lauren Ohler

Lauren Ohler – The University of Texas at Austin (Senior photo: Mercy and Grace Photography)

Lauren Ohler – Condit Elementary School, Lanier Middle School, Bellaire High School 

Lauren Ohler is off to The University of Texas at Austin, where she’ll study biology. She dreams of becoming a pediatrician. She’s excited to pursue more advanced biology and math classes. She’s looking forward to playing college frisbee, joining a running group and exploring Austin. Her favorite high-school moment was playing Ultimate Frisbee at night. “My friends and I played for hours, and although we were all playing casually, the game was intense and high energy. Everyone worked super hard and played as a cooperative team.” She’d tell her younger self: “You don't need to wait for someone else. When you are passionate, with a clear goal in mind, get it started, and others will join along.” 

Jared Orkin

Jared Orkin – The University of Texas at Austin (Senior photo: Junell Photography)

Jared Orkin – The Kinkaid School 

Jared Orkin is heading to The University of Texas at Austin, where he’ll study business. He’s looking forward to exploring Austin, meeting new people, and finding clubs to join. He hopes for a job in the financial sector. His favorite high school moment was joining choir during his senior year and becoming the beatboxer of the a capella group the Falchords. If he could, he’d advise his younger self: “Stay true to who you are and don’t be afraid to try something new.” 

Eugenie Pflieger

Eugenie Pflieger – George Washington University (Senior photo: Cecelia Schellstede)

Eugenie Pflieger – Epiphany Day School, Academy of the Sacred Heart (Grand Coteau, La.), The British International School of Houston  

Eugenie Pflieger is off to George Washington University, where she’ll be part of the Women’s Leadership Program and study biology. Her dream would be to become a laryngology researcher – she’s a singer so she loves “investigating the biological side of sound production.” She’s looking forward to meeting new people and understanding more about the world by engaging in her college community. She says her favorite high school moment is “every break and lunch time at BISH where my friends and I sat in the IB neighborhood and had some of the best discussions about everything under the sun!” If she could give her kindergarten self advice, she’d say, “Always be open-minded! Never think you are not good at something just because it seems difficult. Keep trying and have an open mind.” 

Margot Purdie

Margot Purdie – Austin Community College

Margot Purdie – Poe Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Lamar High School 

Margot Purdie is heading to Austin Community College, where she will major in Human Dimensions of Organization. She’s always dreamed of attending The University of Texas at Austin, and she plans to work hard to transfer to become a Longhorn. She wants to “work in a field that values communication, innovation and helping others.” She says her favorite high school moments were attending football games. “Lamar has one of the biggest student sections filled with so much pride and enthusiasm!” If she could, she’d tell herself to always put herself out there – sports, clubs, academics, new friends – and that it never hurts to try new things. 

Joshua Rassin

Joshua Rassin – Washington and Lee University (Senior photo: Suzie Barber, Fresh by Suzie)

Joshua Rassin – Mark Twain Elementary School, Pershing Middle School, Lamar High School 

Joshua Rassin is off to Washington and Lee University where he’ll study business/entrepreneurship and play tennis on the W&L team. His goal is to run his own business. If he could talk to his younger self, he’d say to play more tennis with his sister. “I did not realize I had a built-in hitting partner until my senior year. I wish I would have realized this sooner.” His favorite high school moment was National Signing Day.

Nathan Reichert

Nathan Reichert – Tufts University

Nathan Reichert – Horn Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Episcopal High School  

Nathan Reichert is off to Tufts University, where he plans to major in political science/international relations. He’s looking forward to learning about what he’s interested in learning about. He’d advise his kindergarten self: “Tough it out and read until you like reading.” He said his favorite high school moments are when he’d “be on a continuous roll in making the whole room laugh, one joke after another.” His dream job? President of the United States. 

Drew Rentz

Drew Rentz – The University of Texas at Austin (Senior photo: Sonya Sellers Photography)

Drew Rentz – Saint Thomas’ Episcopal School, St. Thomas High School 

Drew Rentz is off to The University of Texas at Austin, where he’ll study electrical engineering. His dream is to work in the technology field on anything that will be revolutionary. If he could, he’d advise his younger self: “Don’t get an Xbox.”

Eduardo Salomon

Eduardo Salomon – Northeastern University (Senior photo: Carolina Simon)

Eduardo Salomon – The Awty International School 

Eduardo Salomon is off to Northeastern University, where he’ll study business. He’s looking forward to “meeting people from other parts of the world coming together in one institution creating a playground of diversity for me to explore.” He dreams of being self-employed. “There is not a moment I didn’t enjoy from high school, but specifically, my experience would have never been the same if I had not made the bonds I have now with my teachers.” He’d tell his younger self: “Don’t stress in school, don’t chase behind a life that’s not yours, just wait – life has its way of coming to you.”

Rena Schwartz

Rena Schwartz – University of Chicago

Rena Schwartz – Robert M. Beren Academy 

Rena Schwartz is heading to the University of Chicago, where she’ll major in Near Eastern Studies. She’s looking forward to the coronavirus pandemic being over. She says her favorite high school moments were “Retreat. Always retreat.” If she could advise her kindergarten self, she’d say: “Don’t rely on clichés for advice.”

Abigail Shelby

Abigail Shelby – Villanova University (Senior photo: BethanyMichaelPhotography)

Abigail Shelby – Condit Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, St. Agnes Academy

Abigail Shelby is heading to Villanova University. She hasn’t decided on a major but is considering criminology – her dream job would be working for the FBI. She’s looking forward to being part of the Villanova women’s water polo team. “I never thought I would be playing at the collegiate level, but here I am. Being part of the St. Agnes Academy water polo team has shaped who I am today.” She’d advise her kindergarten self not to fight naptime – “one day, you will miss it.”

Dania Siddiqi

Dania Siddiqi – University of Chicago

Dania Siddiqi – St. Mark’s Episcopal School, St. Agnes Academy 

Dania Siddiqi is off to the University of Chicago and plans to major in cinema and media studies. She’s looking forward to learning about what she’s interested in and meeting new people from all around the world. She’s also looking forward to exploring Chicago. Her dream would be to direct and write her own films or TV shows. Her favorite moments from high school were “pretty much every moment I had with my friends after school!” She’d tell her kindergarten self: “Don’t quit! It’s so important to embrace challenging classes, sports, etc. Quitting doesn’t allow you to grow as a person.”

Meira Silverman

Meira Silverman – University of Missouri (Senior photo: Joanna Brandt)

Meira Silverman – Beth Yeshurun Day School, Robert M. Beren Academy, Bellaire High School 

Meira Silverman is off to the University of Missouri, where she’ll study pre-physical therapy to be a physical therapist. She’s looking forward to learning how to live on her own. Her favorite moments in high school were all the memories she made as a Bellaire Belle, including “trying out as an eighth grader not knowing anyone and then getting the letter in the mail telling me I made it. I do not know what high school would’ve been without my team.” She’d remind her kindergarten self to focus on what’s most important in life. 

Claire Sonne

Claire Sonne – College of Charleston (Senior photo: Freeman Photography)

Claire Sonne – Grace School, Second Baptist School, McCullough Junior High, Incarnate Word Academy 

Claire Sonne is heading to the College of Charleston where she plans to double major in psychology and theater. She dreams of either being a clinical psychologist for pediatric oncology patients or a Broadway actress. She’s looking forward to learning more about herself and the world. Her favorite high school moment was when she was cast as her dream role, The Witch in “Into the Woods.” She’d advise her kindergarten self to be strong and powerful no matter what. “If you stay positive and strong, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.” 

Jordan Stein

Jordan Stein – The University of Texas at Austin (Senior photo: Michael Jurick)

Jordan Stein – Scarsdale Elementary School (NY), Scarsdale Middle School (NY), The Emery/Weiner School 

Jordan Stein is off to The University of Texas at Austin. He dreams of becoming a biomedical engineer. He’s looking forward to branching out and meeting new people. His favorite high school moment was leading his ISHL varsity hockey team, the Whalers, to win the city championships. If he could, he’d remind his kindergarten self of the importance of staying organized.

Julia Strug

Julia Strug – Illinois Wesleyan University (Senior photo: Natural Expressions)

Julia Strug – Beth Yeshurun Day School, The Emery/Weiner School 

Julia Strug is off to Illinois Wesleyan University where she’ll work toward a BFA in acting with a double minor in dance and film. She’s looking forward to meeting people with different perspectives and immersing herself in theater. Her dream is to be an actor, playwright, composer, director or choreographer. She dreams of being on “the big screen” or on Broadway. Her favorite high school moment was stargazing on a trip to Big Bend surrounded by her friends. If she could advise her kindergarten self, she’d say: “It never hurts to be kind.” 

Tyler Therriault

Tyler Therriault – University of Houston (Senior photo: Catherine Chance)

Tyler Therriault – Campbell Elementary School, The Westview School, The Briarwood School

Tyler Therriault is off to the University of Houston to study computer information systems. He’s looking forward to meeting new people and enjoying new experiences. His dream job is a cyber security engineer. If he could, he’d tell his younger self: “Take every opportunity you can get and don’t give up.” 

Tessa Valente

Tessa Valente – University of Alabama (Senior photo: Meredith Flaherty Photography)

Tessa Valente – Horn Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School  

Tessa Valente is heading to the University of Alabama, where she’ll study nursing. She dreams of becoming an RN in an emergency room. She’s looking forward to having more freedom. If she could chat with her kindergarten self, she’d say: “Take more naps.” Her favorite high school moment was performing during the Bellaire High School varsity football games as a member of the Bellaire Belles dance team. 

Christina Vignet

Christina Vignet – Bocconi University (Senior photo: Steve Simpson Photography)

Christina Vignet – Anglo American School of Moscow (Moscow), Escola American do Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro), The Village School  

Christina Vignet is off to Bocconi University (Milan, Italy) where she’ll study finance and economics. She’s looking forward to meeting new people, studying what she’s passionate about and learning a new language. Her dream is to work in the finance industry; she aspires to go into banking or be the CFO of a company. She’d tell her kindergarten self: “Be open to change and stay in touch with others.”  

Leigh Vo

Leigh Vo – Syracuse University (Grade school photo: Tom Vo; Senior photo: Maia Vo)

Leigh Vo – Condit Elementary School, Horn Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School 

Leigh Vo is heading to Syracuse University, where she’ll major in business and communications. She’d love to become a chief marketing officer. She’s looking forward to exploring new food, trying new things and facing new challenges, continuing to dance and make new friends. The high school moment that she’ll always remember was during her sophomore year. “We had organized a school walkout for the March for Our Lives protest, and I remember feeling strange walking out when most of my friends chose to stay. Nevertheless, I proudly left the school to protest for something that I cared about, and as I turned around, I saw my principal, Mr. McDonough, proudly waving back at us from the second floor window.” She’d remind her kindergarten self that “who you are is enough and you should be proud of yourself.” 

Madeleine Wildt

Madeleine Wildt – Colorado State University (Senior photo: Prestige Photos)

Madeleine Wildt – Washington School (NJ), Pershing Middle School, Bellaire High School 

Madeleine Wildt is heading to Colorado State University, where she’ll study biology. She dreams of becoming a pediatrician or a traveling advanced practitioner nurse. She’s looking forward to exploring a new state and living on her own. Her favorite high school moment was “when my younger sister gave me the perfect idea of what to dress up as for Spirit Week. I dressed up as the famous girl from the ‘Tie Dye Beauty’ Vine. I had people coming up begging me for pictures and asking to film me.” She’d tell her kindergarten self that what she thinks she wants to pursue as a little kid is probably not what will happen but to try many new things. 

Tyler Woods

Tyler Woods – Hardin-Simmons University

Tyler Woods – Fiest Elementary School, Smith Middle School, The Village School  

Tyler Woods is heading to Hardin-Simmons University, where he’ll major in fitness, recreation and sports management. He’s looking forward to playing football in college, and his dream is to be an NFL coach. His favorite high school moment was winning the state football championship. If he could, he’d tell his younger self: “Never give up on yourself.”  

Conner Young

Conner Young – Rhodes College

Conner Young – Condit Elementary School, Trafton Academy, Strake Jesuit College Preparatory 

Conner Young is heading to Rhodes College where he’ll study business. He’s looking forward to playing college football. His dream is to be the lead ESPN anchor on SportsCenter. His favorite high school moment was making it to the third round of playoffs (regionals) in football and getting the opportunity to play at NRG Stadium. He’d remind his kindergarten self to be friendly to everyone and “those that you meet early on will still be some of your really good friends way beyond elementary school.”

J.C. Young

J.C. Young – University of Chicago (Senior photo: Jeff Stark Photography)

J.C. Young – West University Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Lamar High School  

J.C. Young is heading to the University of Chicago, where he’ll major in economics with a specialization in business. He’s looking forward to exploring Chicago and meeting people from all over the world. One of his favorite parts of high school was interning at Atlas Scholars. “This program allowed me to gain real world business experiences while learning from mentors. This internship also brought me closer to a diverse group of students from all over the Houston area.” He’d tell his kindergarten self to “learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward.”

Editor’s note: Check out – and contribute to, if you haven’t yet – our annual database of college-bound Buzz seniors. Additionally, read about some of the teachers who inspired these graduates along the way.

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