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Class of 2021

Where are they headed?

Jenna Mazzoccoli
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Last year, the school year ended on an uncertain note, and graduating seniors wrapped up their high school careers wanting more. For the graduating class of 2021, their entire final year was different. Covid left its mark on every aspect of the high school experience – from the day-to-day to exciting milestones like homecoming, senior nights, prom, baccalaureates, and graduation.

Despite the pandemic, the class of 2021 is looking forward. As part of our annual tradition, we asked our graduating neighbors to share their plans with us. Read on to see where local students are headed, their reflections on senior year, and what advice they’d give to their kindergarten selves. Congratulations, Class of 2021! It’s been a tough year, and you made it.

Josh Blum

Josh Blum – University of Southern California (Senior photo: Marla Carter Photography)

Josh Blum – Beth Yeshurun Day School, Pin Oak Middle School, The Emery/Weiner School

Josh Blum is heading to the University of Southern California to study Real Estate Development and play baseball. Due to Covid, he hasn’t been able to visit the campus, but he looks forward to living in beautiful California and playing the sport he loves at a collegiate level. As a freshman at Emery/Weiner, he played on the baseball team with his older brother Jonathan, who was a senior at the time. This was one of the highlights of his high school years, as they got to travel to practices and games together. To his kindergarten self, Josh would say, “Pursue a passion that makes you happy, and do not worry about things you can't control.”

Raquel Bosley

Raquel Bosley – Texas Tech University

Raquel Bosley – Condit Elementary School, Trafton Academy, Bellaire High School

Raquel Bosley is off to Texas Tech University on the Pre-Nursing track. She hopes to one day be a nurse anesthetist. Covid has affected her overall experience for senior year in many ways, but she said, “as bad as Covid is, it has made me change my routine and find solutions to problems I thought I’d never encounter.” The school barn was shut down, and she had to improvise, so the lambs she was raising for Bellaire FFA found a home in her backyard. In college, she is looking forward to meeting new people and hearing about others’ life experiences. Raquel would tell her kindergarten self: “Don’t worry about what other people think. Just be true to yourself.”

David Bournat

David Bournat – Vanderbilt University (Senior photo: Prestige)

David Bournat – Briargrove Elementary School, Briarmeadow Charter School, Bellaire High School

David Bournat is heading to Vanderbilt University, where he will study Human Organizational Development. In college, he hopes to meet people from all over the world and learn from their diverse backgrounds. His dream job is to work for a management-consulting firm in Latin America. One of his favorite memories from high school was a school trip. “We went to New York City in order to participate in a stock pitch competition. It was my first time being to New York!” If David could talk with his kindergarten self, he would give this advice: “Enjoy life while you can and when you have no responsibilities because life gets harder as you get older.”

Maya Alatin

Maya Alatin – The University of Texas at Austin (Senior photo: Hagit Bibi)

Maya Alatin – Kolter Elementary School, Lanier Middle School, The Emery/Weiner School

Maya Alatin is off to The University of Texas at Austin, where she will study Communications and Leadership with a minor in Business. “I knew that Communications was the major for me. Many alumni’s accomplishments aligned with my goals for the future.” Maya would like to own a business and be a leader in her community. A few of her favorite moments from high school include class trips. “We have not had any school trips yet this year, but we are fortunate enough to be going on a trip to Arizona and Utah. I am extremely grateful and excited that our grade is able to congregate and bond one last time before college.” She’d advise her kindergarten self: “Always be kind to everyone you meet, no matter the circumstance!”

Kennedy Barton

Kennedy Barton – Colgate University (Senior photo: Huyen Tran Photography)

Kennedy Barton – Presbyterian School, St. Michael Catholic School, Episcopal High School

Kennedy Barton is off to Colgate University to study Social Work. After college, she wants to work in adoption services and hopes to reform the system. She is passionate about adopting because her family has grown from adoption. One of her favorite memories from high school was when Episcopal won the SPC football championship. “The best part of winning was running onto the field and celebrating with the whole school.” To her kindergarten self, she would say, “Be a warrior, not a worrier.”

Omar Busaidy

Omar Busaidy – The University of Texas at Austin

Omar Busaidy – Condit Elementary School, Lanier Middle School, Bellaire High School

Omar Busaidy is off to The University of Texas at Austin, where he will study Business. He chose to study this field “because money moves faster than politicians’ mouths. I am fascinated by the potential for business to bring about change.” Omar’s dream job is to own a venture capital firm that invests in solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. One of his favorite memories from high school was the debate nationals in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “We got to celebrate on the beach in between competition. We had an amazing time.” To his kindergarten self, he would say: “Work hard, play harder.”

Sutton Compton

Sutton Compton – Texas A&M University

Sutton Compton – Condit Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School

Sutton Compton is heading to Texas A&M University where she will study Early Childhood Education. Her dream is to be a kindergarten teacher. Ms. Shelly Hulbirt, who taught her in middle school at Pin Oak, and Ms. Terri Smith, who taught Communications at Bellaire, were both teachers who played a major role in choosing her major of education. As a teacher, she wants to act as a positive and steady role model for her students. Post-high school, she is excited to see all of her friends excel and grow into their passions and strengths. To her kindergarten self, she’d say: ”Appreciate the little homework you have to do and that you don’t have to take APs.” 

Grace Massey

Grace Massey – University of Arkansas

Grace Massey – Herod Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Lamar High School

Grace Massey is heading to the University of Arkansas, where she will study Biology and Pre-Med. “I have always dreamed of being a doctor, and biology is so interesting to me.” She hopes to one day be a pediatric urologist or pediatric traumatic plastic surgeon. Some of her favorite moments from high school were dance competitions. “I got to see my friends and team succeed while doing things that we love!” She missed having senior prom and a normal graduation. Grace would pass along these wise words to her kindergarten self: “Believe in yourself and take more naps.”

Stephanie Davis

Stephanie Davis – Pace University

Stephanie Davis – The Shlenker School, Pin Oak Middle School, The Emery/Weiner School

Stephanie Davis is heading to Pace University in New York City to study Entrepreneurship, but she will be spending her first semester of college studying in London at Kaplan International as a selective program through Pace. Stephanie is looking forward to starting fresh and making a home for herself in the city that never sleeps. Her dream job would be to run an empire that focuses on fashion or makeup. If she got a chance to talk with her kindergarten self, she’d say: “Enjoy your youth, your innocence, and the time you have with your family and having people who love you to depend on. I always wished to speed up time, but now all I want is those years back.”

Andrew Mee

Andrew Mee – University of the South (Senior photo: Shaelyn Neal Photography)

Andrew Mee – Herod Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Lamar High School

Andrew Mee is heading to the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, to study Biology and play soccer. After university, Andrew would like to use his degree to help athletes recover from injuries, either as a physician or physical therapist. Some of his favorite memories from high school are the countless hours he has spent practicing and playing soccer with his teammates at Lamar. “I will never forget the feeling of winning two district titles and two playoff games with some of my closest friends.” Covid felt isolating at times, but the experience taught Andrew how to find the motivation within himself to do things like complete schoolwork and reach out to others. To his kindergarten self, Andrew would say: “The most important things in life are to dream big and do what makes you happy.” 

Xander Fell

Xander Fell – Texas A&M University (Senior photo: Nikki Guest Photography)

Xander Fell – Condit Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School

Xander Fell is heading to Texas A&M University, where he will study Business. At Bellaire High School, Xander played on the lacrosse team. “One of my favorite memories was beating our rival Lamar in an overtime lacrosse game.” To his kindergarten self, he would pass on these wise words: “Start working on your six pack early.”

Claire Frankfort

Claire Frankfort – Louisiana State University (Senior photo: Liz Junell)

Claire Frankfort – Beth Yeshurun Day School, The Emery/Weiner School, Episcopal High School

Claire Frankfort is heading to Louisiana State University, where she will study Interior Design. From a young age, Claire loved being creative. “My grandma would always tell me I should have a creative job because as a child I asked to decorate the platters of food before big family meals.” At Episcopal, Claire was involved in Admissions Council, tennis, chapel, and student senate. These activities allowed her to meet lots of students from different grades and make friends outside her year. If Claire got a chance to chat with her kindergarten self, she would say: “Talk to new people, and don’t be shy!”

Miles Goldstein

Miles Goldstein – Brandeis University (Senior photo: Jordan Scheiner Photography)

Miles Goldstein – Kolter Elementary School, The Emery/Weiner School

Miles Goldstein is off to Brandeis University, where he will pursue Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. In the future, he hopes to be a professor of Jewish history because it combines two of his favorite areas of study – history and Judaica. In high school, some of his best memories take place in the music department. His band director and peers placed great responsibility on his shoulders in preparing for performances. “We weren't perfect, but we sounded good, and we sounded authentic.” He’d tell his kindergarten self: “Don't be afraid of teachers, they're there to help, and any relationships you form with them will help you tremendously.”

Megan Gutierrez

Megan Gutierrez – Austin College (Senior photo: Amalya Shandelman Photography)

Megan Gutierrez – Condit Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School

Megan Gutierrez is heading to Austin College in Sherman, where she will study Biology. Her dream job is to be a radiologist. Covid has made her grateful for normalcy and for life before the pandemic. “I have also discovered old hobbies again that I haven't enjoyed in years, such as drawing.” If she got a chance to chat with her kindergarten self, she would say: “Enjoy your childhood while you can.”

Paige Hoffer

Paige Hoffer – The University of Texas at Austin (Senior photo: Simi Thakur)

Paige Hoffer – Horn Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School

Paige Hoffer is heading to The University of Texas at Austin, where she will study Sociology on a pre-law track. She is unsure of her dream job, but she feels strongly about finding a profession where she can help others. In college, she is excited to choose courses that she is interested in and looks forward to small, discussion-based classes. If she got a chance to chat with her kindergarten self, she would say: “Relax. What seems stressful at any given moment won’t end up really mattering in the future.”

Olusegun Bolarin

Olusegun Bolarin – Louisiana State University

Olusegun Bolarin – Epiphany Lutheran School, St. Pius X High School

Olusegun Bolarin is heading to Louisiana State University, where he will study Architecture. He found his love for building at a young age, when he’d play with Legos and design structures. In high school, he ran track and played on the soccer team. In college, he is looking forward to “meeting new people and seeing what God has in store.” Olusegun would pass along these wise words to his kindergarten self: “Don't eat too much candy. It ain't good for you.”

Jaylenn Holmes

Jaylenn Holmes – Texas A&M University

Jaylenn Holmes – Roberts Elementary School, Meyerland Performing and Visual Arts Middle School, Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts

Jaylenn Holmes is heading to Texas A&M University where she will study Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance. At Kinder HSPVA, she was a violinist and Senior Ambassador in the advanced mariachi band, Los Pasajeros. She was in leadership positions for many clubs and activities, including the Student Council, Spanish National Honor Society, and Black Student Union. She is attending Texas A&M on a National Merit Scholarship and hopes to find a career where she can make a difference in her community. To her kindergarten self, Jaylenn would say: “Always believe in myself, even when the task in front of you is difficult.”

Mia Kalinsky

Mia Kalinsky – Marquette University (Senior photo: Alan Ross)

Mia Kalinsky – Beth Yeshurun Day School, The Emery/Weiner School

Mia Kalinsky is heading to Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she will study Nursing. She is looking forward to a fresh start in a new city and to live in a state with a change of seasons. Mia has always dreamed of being a nurse. One of her favorite memories from high school was the trip Emery/Weiner took to Big Bend her freshman year. “I am not one that loves hiking, but I made the best memories on that trip.” Talking to her kindergarten self, she would say, “Don't stress so much about the future. What's important is that you enjoy the moment!”

Minla Phillips

Minla Phillips – Howard University (Kinder photo: Provine School Pictures; Senior photo: Payton Mack Photography)

Minla Phillips – Lovett Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Lamar High School

Minla Phillips is heading to Howard University in Washington, D.C. to study Psychology. She would like to open her own practice as a pediatric psychologist. Minla loved homecoming season each year. “My favorite moment in high school was seeing all of the football players dress up in cheer uniforms for homecoming pep rallies.” Minla would pass along these wise words to her kindergarten self: “Don't bring toys to show-and-tell that you actually like because they could get stolen.”

Matan Lagnado

Matan Lagnado – University of Arizona

Matan Lagnado – Robert M. Beren Academy, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School

Matan Lagnado is off to the University of Arizona, where he will study Astronomy. He finds astronomy interesting because of its endless possibilities and discoveries. Mr. Newland, his astronomy teacher at Bellaire High School, opened his eyes to all the fascinating things astronomy has to offer. He was president of the Astronomy Club. Because of Covid, he “wasn't able to meet any of the new members in person or hold a star party this year.” He also missed out on lunch time with friends and making connections with teachers. To his kindergarten self, he would say, “Find something you like and stick with it.”

Claire Lane

Claire Lane – St. Edward’s University

Claire Lane – Saint Thomas’ Episcopal School

Claire Lane is heading to St. Edward’s University in Austin, where she will study Film with an emphasis in Acting and Screenwriting. She hopes to work in the film-production industry as an actor, screenwriter, or director. One of her favorite memories from high school was her Latin class. “It was the smallest class I've ever been in, so we all got really close. All I can remember from that class is laughing.” She’d share this advice with her kindergarten self: “You can't live your life based on what other people want from you. You can't let other people decide who you are. You only have one shot at this thing, so make it memorable and make it yours.”

Alex Lavine

Alex Lavine – Texas A&M University (Senior photo: Juanro Lopez)

Alex Lavine – Beth Yeshurun Day School, The Emery/Weiner School

Alex Lavine is heading to Texas A&M University, where he will study Business Administration. He is looking forward to meeting new people in College Station and being a part of the Aggie family. In high school, his favorite time was spent with his tennis teammates competing in the TAPPS state tournament. His love of sports comes from being a tennis player, and he hopes one day to be the general manager for a sports team. If he got a chance to talk with his kindergarten self, he’d say, “Keep working hard. Put in the effort in anything, and you will get a positive result out.”

Sailor May

Sailor May – Baylor University (Senior photo: Prestige)

Sailor May – Roberts Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School

Sailor May is heading to Baylor University to study Business. The choice to be a Baylor Bear was obvious to Sailor. She has family members who are alumni, and the Christian community appealed to her. Some of her favorite memories from high school were in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “I loved meeting every Friday and talking about God with friends and classmates.” If Sailor got a chance to talk with her kindergarten self, she would say: “Make the most out of every day. There’s so much to life.”

Blake Maillet

Blake Maillet – Stephen F. Austin University

Blake Maillet – Yorkshire Academy, The Briarwood School

Blake Maillet is heading to Stephen F. Austin University to study Biochemistry. At The Briarwood School, Science teachers Mr. Darrell Causey and Mrs. Cathy Smith both played a large role in inspiring him to pursue a career in science. He hopes to be an optometrist in the future. Covid and online learning were not easy for Blake. It was difficult to adapt, and when allowed back on campus with some restrictions, life felt more normal. If he got a chance to chat with his kindergarten self, he would say: “Pay attention and take notes. You’ll need those for later.”

Kaitlin Alexander

Kaitlin Alexander – Texas State University

Kaitlin Alexander – Lulu Bell Goodman Elementary School, Westbury Christian School, Lutheran High North

Kaitlin Alexander is heading to Texas State University to study Physical Therapy. Her dream job would be a pediatric occupational therapist or physical therapist. This past year has affected Kaitlin greatly. “I lost my mom to Covid. That affected me because I lost my best friend. But it taught me how to turn to my support system and lean on my faith.” She is prepared for this new chapter to begin. “I feel like my parents and teachers have prepared me for life. I think that I am excited [about] facing the world.” Kaitlin would pass along these wise words to her kindergarten self: “Cherish all the naps you take.”

Mason McHugh

Mason McHugh – Texas A&M University (Senior photo: Blue Moon Photography)

Mason McHugh – First Baptist Academy, Houston Christian High School

Mason McHugh is off to Texas A&M University, where he will study Engineering. He chose A&M because of the excellent programs and family connections. “A&M is my father's alma mater. My dad is my biggest mentor and somebody that I truly look up to. So to walk in his footsteps at A&M would be my honor.” Mason plans to pursue a career in aerospace engineering. “It would be so amazing to be able to design concepts for planes, and spaceships, satellites.” Talking to his kindergarten self, Mason would say: “Always have fun and keep everything in perspective.”

Dana Theroux

Dana Theroux – Texas A&M University (Senior photo: Freeman Photography)

Dana Theroux – Villa Victoria Academy, Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, Incarnate Word Academy

Dana Theroux is off to Texas A&M University, where she will study Computer Engineering. One of her best memories from high school took place during her sophomore year when she and a classmate started a Bible study club at Incarnate Word Academy. Her senior year was different than expected, but she couldn’t imagine it any other way. “The excitement of going back to school in person after being virtual for months is a feeling I will never be able to describe.” And some wise words from Dana to her kindergarten self: “Pay more attention when they teach you how to tell your right from your left. It’ll help you a lot in the future.”

Kevin McKenna

Kevin McKenna – University of Notre Dame

Kevin McKenna – Condit Elementary School, Lanier Middle School, Strake Jesuit

Kevin McKenna is off to the University of Notre Dame to study Finance. Both of his parents graduated from Notre Dame, so he has visited the campus countless times as a kid. It’s been his dream since age 9 to be a part of the Fighting Irish. “Going to a college where I can get an amazing education and spiritual growth while being able to root for great sports teams is a perfect fit for me.” His interest in finance started as a child, and he has already started trading stocks over the past year. To his kindergarten self, Kevin would say: “Balance is important. Work hard, but be sure to have fun.”

Theophane Polydoros

Theophane Polydoros – Trinity University (Senior photo: Prestige)

Theophane Polydoros – Poe Elementary School, Lanier Middle School, Lamar High School

Theophane Polydoros is heading to Trinity University, where she will study Psychology and English. A psychologist at NASA would be her dream job. “My junior year, I worked in the NASA High School Aerospace Scholars program, and that experience has led me to gain more of an interest in NASA.” Her favorite moment from high school was meeting her close group of friends her junior year. “And we are all still close despite the pandemic!” She said Covid has caused her to be more flexible. “It has allowed me to learn how to adapt to drastic situations.” To her kindergarten self, Theophane would say: “Keep working hard, but don’t forget to have some fun too!”

Ryan Roylance

Ryan Roylance – University of Mississippi

Ryan Roylance – St. Mark’s Episcopal School, Houston Christian High School

Ryan Roylance is off to the University of Mississippi where she will be studying Integrated Marketing and Communications. She is most looking forward to being a part of the Ole Miss community, going to football games, and making memories. She sees herself as an entrepreneur in the future and hopes to work with clients to solve marketing issues. If she spoke with her kindergarten self, she would say: “Don’t sweat the small stuff. Every hurt feeling from a friend or being left out of a party – it all feels enormous at the time! But I would just want that little innocent sweet girl to know she is not defined by how others treat her.”

Parker Smith

Parker Smith – Rice University (Senior photo: Margaret Rotan Photography)

Parker Smith – Horn Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School 

Parker Smith is off to Rice University to study Sports Management and play baseball. At Bellaire High School, Parker was a student athlete. Being on the baseball team taught him that “you’ve got to work hard, even on the mundane things.” He was disappointed to miss homecoming, prom, football games, and more, but he was grateful for the opportunity to spend more time with his close circle of friends. This past year has made him more patient and resilient. To his kindergarten self, Parker would say, “Be nice to the girls because they will remember everything you do!”

Anirudh Srinivasan

Anirudh Srinivasan – Harvard University

Anirudh Srinivasan – The Village School

Anirudh Srinivasan is heading to Harvard University. He hopes to one day be a surgeon, so he plans on attending medical school after he completes his degree. Four years ago, his parents were seriously injured. “Both of my parents were shot.... The surgeons that saved my parents allowed me to live a normal and happy life. I want to become a surgeon so that I can pay that forward and help other people that are in similar situations.” Anirudh would advise his kindergarten self to enjoy all the fun times and not rush so fast to grow up and be an adult.

Michael Ware

Michael Ware – Prairie View A&M University

Michael Ware – Westbury Christian School

Michael Ware is heading to Prairie View A&M University. His dream job would involve music. “There are a number of things that I would like to do, but right now I am interested in audio or music engineering. I come from a musical family that really appreciates the art of music. Creating beats is a hobby.” If Michael could chat with his kindergarten self, he would give him this advice: “Over the years, as I have matured, I have learned that staying the course and stepping out of my comfort zone is the only way that I will continue to grow as a person.”

Callie Young

Callie Young – Auburn University (Senior photo: Tricia Dutherage)

Callie Young – Condit Elementary School, Trafton Academy, St. Agnes Academy

Callie Young is going to Auburn University and will be studying Communications. Being on the softball team in high school taught Callie discipline, time management, and how to create time for herself. Because of her experiences as a student athlete, she feels prepared for her future. She would like to be a talk show host and make people laugh for a living. Callie chose Auburn because she’s always wanted to move out of state and explore a new place. If she got a chance to talk with her kindergarten self, Callie would say: “Time goes by so fast, so make sure you make the most of it.”

Matthew Moseley

Matthew Moseley – Northwestern University (Senior photo: Margaret Rotan Photography)

Matthew Moseley – The Kinkaid School

Matthew Moseley is heading to Northwestern University to study Radio, Television, and Film. “I chose Northwestern RTF because I think it’s perfect for my academic goals. I’m interested in film, but I think it’s very likely that I end up in some other focus. Northwestern lets me explore my interests.” Matthew was sad to miss out on opportunities a normal senior year would offer, but it was rewarding, nonetheless. His favorite moment of high school was his junior year cotillion. “It was the last dance I had before Covid hit. In the moment I was just having fun but looking back, I didn’t realize that I was making memories.” To his kindergarten self, Matthew would say, “Trust the process, work hard, and be true to yourself!”

Lily Flexon

Lily Flexon – Loyola Marymount University (Senior photo: JASONLEEPHOTOGRAPHY)

Lily Flexon – Memorial Drive Elementary School, Spring Branch Middle School, Memorial High School

Lily Flexon is heading to Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles to study Marketing. “Ever since I stepped out of the plane in seventh grade and saw L.A. for the first time, I knew I was going to live there. The feeling of the anticipation in L.A. is more vibrant.” She looks forward to living in a city with some of the best hip hop dancers in the world. Her dream job is to be a backup dancer for a pop artist. She’d advise her kindergarten self: “Always stay true to yourself, follow your dreams, and never give up.”

Sydney Harrison

Sydney Harrison – University of Arkansas (Senior photo: Chrissy Burdsall Visual Artist)

Sydney Harrison – Rummel Creek Elementary School, Memorial Middle School, Stratford High School

Sydney Harrison is heading to the University of Arkansas, where she will study Communications. At Stratford, Sydney was a cheerleader. She was disappointed in how her junior year concluded due to Covid. “It has been just a shell of what I had imagined. We did get to have football season, but there were so many restrictions, no pep rallies that I would have been able to plan, splitting the squad into two separate groups on the field so we weren't able to all cheer together.” She is grateful, however, that the year ended with prom, senior walk, and graduation. If she got a chance to talk with her kindergarten self, Sydney would say: “Be open to changes that come along. Don't be afraid of the next thing.”

Lili Alamshenas

Lili Alamshenas – University of North Texas

Lili Alamshenas – The Fay School, The Awty International School

Lili Alamshenas is off to the University of North Texas to study Kinesiology. She wants to be an optometrist because of her first experience getting glasses. “I remember leaving the office and looking out of the car and actually being able to see leaves on trees. I want to be able to give someone else the experience of being able to see the world clearly. Good vision is something many of us take for granted.” To her kindergarten self, Lili would say: “Keep the peace signs.”

Layan Baba

Layan Baba – University of Houston (Senior photo: Freeman Photography)

Layan Baba – St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School, St. Pius X High School

Layan Baba is heading to the University of Houston to study Public Health. Her dream is to become a pediatrician. “I’ve grown to love kids and being able to help them in any way I can has been so fulfilling, and that has been driving me to pursue my dreams.” She chose UH because it is close to home and she wants to get involved on campus while getting a great education. “I will most definitely be attending football games at UH. That’s one of the things I am looking forward to the most.” Layan would tell her kindergarten self not to blink because time flies by.

Nancy Gallegos

Nancy Gallegos – University of Tulsa (Photos: Nancy Ruiz)

Nancy Gallegos – St. Edward Catholic School, St. Pius X High School

Nancy Gallegos is heading to the University of Tulsa, where she will study Biological Sciences. Her dream job would be an orthopedic surgeon or another position in the orthopedic branch of medicine. One of her favorite memories from high school was when the lights went out during a football game at an away game. “The press box started playing Tennessee Whiskey over the speakers while everyone had their flashes from their phones on, waving them like at a concert. It was so fun!” If Nancy got a chance to talk with her kindergarten self, she’d say: “Everything happens for a reason, and never stop creating new goals.”

Jack Janowski

Jack Janowski – Lehigh University (Senior photo: Premier Sports Photo)

Jack Janowski – Hunters Creek Elementary School, Spring Branch Middle School, Memorial High School

Jack Janowski is heading to Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Penn., where he will study Business. Jack is looking forward to living in another part of the country. “I will miss Texas, but I think it's important to get out of the bubble I grew up in.” At Memorial, Jack played basketball. “Hard work pays off, and being part of a team means trusting your leadership and pushing yourself to do more than you think you can. A team is so much more than one person.” To his kindergarten self, he would say: “Every class builds on the next one, so pay attention and do the work!”

Rylie LaRue

Rylie LaRue – The University of Texas at Austin (Senior photo: Hallie Keller Photography, Inc.)

Rylie LaRue – Rummel Creek Elementary School, Memorial Middle School, Stratford High School

Rylie LaRue is heading to The University of Texas at Austin to study Communications. Her dream job is to be a physical therapist for the Houston Astros. “I have always loved helping people and being involved in athletics. I would love to be able to help athletes with injuries and get them back on their feet to compete.” In high school, Rylie was a volleyball player. “It gave me some of my best friends and it really taught me how to prioritize school and learn time management.” To her kindergarten self, Rylie would say: “Have fun and don’t stress about every little grade in high school.”

Robert W. Lane III

Robert W. Lane III – Rice University

Robert W. Lane III – Valley West Elementary School, Mickey Leland College Preparatory Academy for Young Men, Lamar High School

Robert W. Lane III is heading to Rice University to study Mechanical Engineering. One of his favorite memories from high school was his last homecoming dance. “It was my first step to truly becoming more social and stepping outside of my bubble.” At Lamar, Robert was involved in baseball, the National Honor Society, and tutoring. “The greatest skill I think I’ve gained is the ability to manage my time wisely, being able to make room for all of my tasks and activities.” To his kindergarten self, Robert would advise: “Learn Spanish earlier.”

Ramsey Ruffeno

Ramsey Ruffeno – The University of Texas at Austin (Senior photo: Tracy Ruffeno)

Ramsey Ruffeno – St. Anne Catholic School, Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart

Ramsey Ruffeno is heading to The University of Texas at Austin, where she will be majoring in Radio-Television-Film. Ramsey’s dream job is to be a comedy writer because she loves collaborating with other people to produce an entertaining product. Serving as student-body president at Duchesne, Ramsey has learned about collaboration and how to make quick and important decisions. She is most looking forward to exploring Austin and building new relationships and connections. She would tell her kindergarten self to do something nice for others every day.

Bernadette Smith

Bernadette Smith – The University of Texas at San Antonio

Bernadette Smith – St. Theresa Catholic School, St. Pius X School

Bernadette Smith is heading to The University of Texas at San Antonio to study Architecture. “Both Architecture and Interior Design have been a passion of mine since about fifth grade.” Her dream job would be to own an architecture and interior design business. In high school, Bernadette was involved in theater, which taught her to step out of her comfort zone and how to manage her time better. “I also learned to take chances in life that may seem nerve racking at first.” Bernadette would tell her kindergarten self to never give up.

Margaret Hudson

Margaret Hudson – Texas A&M University (Photos: Margaret Rotan Photography)

Margaret Hudson – Presbyterian School, Lamar High School

Margaret Hudson is off to Texas A&M University to study Business Management. After completing her degree, it is her dream to study at Sotheby's Institute of Art in London and learn more about Fine and Decorative Arts and Design. She is fascinated by the textile industry and would love to pursue a career in the interior design sector. “I have been inspired by watching my mother build multiple businesses. I am fascinated by the textile industry and would very much like to pursue a career in that realm.” If Margaret could talk with her kindergarten self, she would tell her to keep her head down and keep working. “It is all going to pay off in the long run.”

Meridian Monthy

Meridian Monthy – Yale University

Meridian Monthy – West University Elementary School, St. John's School

Meridian Monthy is off to Yale University to study Political Science. She has always been interested in politics because she was born in DC and was surrounded by political discussions from a young age. Meridian has volunteered for many campaigns and sees political action as an accessible way to make true change. One day, she hopes to be secretary of state. “I think that to truly make a difference, we need to globally collaborate to solve large problems and think that position would be the place where I could make the largest impact on foreign policy.” Speaking to her kindergarten self, Meridian would say: “Soak up all of the new information you can. You don't get to be a student forever!”

Christian White

Christian White – Texas A&M University (Kinder photo: Lifetouch; Senior photo: Khalil AbuSharekh)

Christian White – Oak Forest Elementary, Our Savior Lutheran School, Lutheran High North

Christian White is heading to Texas A&M University, where he will study Engineering. His dream job would be a video-game developer. “I really enjoy coding and the behind-the-scenes details that go into making a game work.” Covid caused him to miss out on prom and theater productions he was looking forward to being a part of. “While it was very upsetting to miss out on these memory-making experiences, it made returning to in-person learning this fall very exciting and special. I learned to appreciate how wonderful it is to learn in person and to be surrounded by my friends and classmates each day.” To his kindergarten self, he’d say: “Don't be afraid to try new things even when it feels scary.”

Katelyn Luna

Katelyn Luna – University of Arkansas

Katelyn Luna – St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School, St. Pius X High School

Katelyn Luna is off to the University of Arkansas to study International Business with a concentration in Marketing. “I chose marketing because it’s a fast-growing industry, and I love being creative.” One of her favorite memories from high school was the ABC 13 flyover. “We had to arrive to school at 5 a.m., and then we had to get down to the football field and everyone had to spell out ABC 13.” If Katelyn got a chance to chat with her kindergarten self, she’d say: “Try everything and stick with something that you love and enjoy.”

Anastacia Yefimenko

Anastacia Yefimenko – Babson College (Senior photo: Kim Schaffer)

Anastacia Yefimenko – The Village School

Anastacia Yefimenko is heading to Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, to study Entrepreneurship. She currently owns a small business called Elcove, where she sells natural refillable cleaning products. She chose to attend Babson College because of the emphasis on entrepreneurial opportunities. One of her favorite moments from high school was winning the state championship for basketball. Being a student athlete “has taught me to ‘trust the process.’ I learned that if you work hard and focus on the process, results will come.” To her kindergarten self, Anastacia would say: “Take time to relax and focus on yourself too.”

James Vaquero

James Vaquero – Southwestern University (Senior photo: Meliezza Walker)

James Vaquero – St. Michael Catholic School, Strake Jesuit

James Vaquero is heading to Southwestern University to study Business and play baseball. His dream job would be the financial manager for the Houston Astros. “I am looking forward to studying finance while being able to play baseball at the next level. Although it is a big change, I am excited to leave home and have more independence.” If James got a chance to chat with his kindergarten self, he would tell him: “You do you, and when in doubt, improvise.”  

Ella Brissett

Ella Brissett – Claremont McKenna College (Senior photo: Demese Black)

Ella Brissett – The Kinkaid School

Ella Brissett is off to Claremont McKenna College. Ella has always been passionate about serving her community and  hopes to pursue a career in the medical field in which she can help others. In college, she’s excited to meet new people and have experiences that enhance her intellectual growth and perspectives on the world. She will be a student athlete, so Ella is looking forward to teamwork and comradery with the CMC  tennis team. She would tell her kindergarten self: “As you get older, don’t suppress your curiosity and keep learning.”

Emily Burnett

Emily Burnett – Barnard College (Senior photo: Natural Expressions)

Emily Burnett – West University Elementary School, St. John’s School

Emily Burnett is going to Barnard College in New York City. She plans on taking classes in biology and physics to help decide on a major. Her dream job would be to work at NASA. “Hearing about the Perseverance rover lately has really interested me, so I think that working for NASA would be really cool.” She is excited to live in the city that never sleeps and have more independence. If Emily got to sit down with her kindergarten self, she would tell her to work hard and be confident in her abilities.

Thalia Pullin

Thalia Pullin – The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Photos: Lifetouch)

Thalia Pullin – The School at St. George Place, Grady Middle School, Lamar High School

Thalia Pullin is off to The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to study Film. At Lamar, Thalia was involved in theater. There, her love for storytelling grew. “After doing research on the Conservatoire, I realized it would be the perfect place for me, as its film curriculum focuses on storytelling, the campus is near my grandparents, and Glasgow is a beautiful place to be an artist!” Her dream job is to be a music-video director. “Good music tells a story, and I want to be a part of creating that story.” Thalia would tell her kindergarten self to always be herself.

Ellie Consolvo

Ellie Consolvo – Wheaton College

Ellie Consolvo – Oak Forest Elementary School, Johnston Middle School, Lamar High School

Ellie Consolvo is off to Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., to study Psychology and Philosophy. “I discovered my passion for philosophy through a course at Lamar called Theory of Knowledge.” She fell in love with the basics of human thought and ideology. Ellie’s dream job is to be a forensic psychologist because she is interested in “law and psychology as well as understanding the complexities of the human mind.” She is excited for life in Massachusetts and nervous to be so far from home. If Ellie could talk to her kindergarten self, she would say, “Your words are more powerful than you think.”

Charles Rivera-Leyden

Charles Rivera-Leyden – The University of Saint Thomas

Charles Rivera-Leyden – St. Cecilia Catholic School, The Saint Constantine School

Charles Rivera-Leyden is heading to The University of Saint Thomas to focus on Aerospace Studies. At The Saint Constantine School, Charles’ favorite teacher was Mr. John Mueller, the instructor of Great Texts and history. Mr. Mueller genuinely cared for his students. “He was patient with me when my parents lost their patience regarding my studying!” If Charles got a chance to chat with his kindergarten self, he would advise him to study hard.

Bailey Maierson

Bailey Maierson – Davidson College (Senior photo: Mark Katz)

Bailey Maierson – River Oaks Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, St. John’s School

Bailey Maierson is heading to Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina. She’s excited to delve deeper into humanities-based courses in order to figure out what she wishes to study. She was able to remain positive through her senior year. “I am grateful that the traditional senior events have been modified and are still continuing since the seniors last year were not able to engage in such events and graduate normally.” Bailey would tell her kindergarten self: “Live in the moment more because you could miss the most amazing moments if you dwell on what will happen instead of what is currently happening.”

Maxine Mooring

Maxine Mooring – University of Houston (Senior photo: La Journet’ Studios)

Maxine Mooring – Burnett Elementary School, Gregory-Lincoln Education Center, Lamar High School

Maxine Mooring is heading to University of Houston to study Biology. After college, she hopes to head to medical school and become a plastic surgeon. She wants to be a plastic surgeon because she lost her grandmother to skin cancer as a child. “That loss made me want to be a part of the medical field and focus on the skin and the body.” Maxine is happy to be staying in Houston. “I chose Houston to be closer with my family. My family has always stuck together through everything.” To her kindergarten self, Maxine would say, “All of your hard work will be accounted for in the future. Just be patient.”

Abigail Nitsch

Abigail Nitsch – Texas A&M University

Abigail Nitsch – Parker Elementary School, Meyerland Performing and Visual Arts Middle School, Lamar High School

Abigail Nitsch is heading to Texas A&M University, where she will study Public Health. She hopes to one day be a doctor. At Lamar, Abigail was on the volleyball team. “One of my favorite moments from high school was playing in my senior year playoff volleyball game.” Abigail would tell her kindergarten self: “Enjoy elementary school while you can.”

Adelle von Grabow

Adelle von Grabow – Colorado State University (Senior photo: Veronica Hunter)

Adelle von Grabow – Rooney Ranch Elementary School, Dunstan Middle School, Lamar High School

Adelle von Grabow is heading to Colorado State University to study Neuroscience. One of Adelle’s favorite high school moments was the 2020 district swim meet. “I wasn't expecting much out of my races that day, but I ended up cutting 2 seconds on my 100 fly and winning the event.” Being a student athlete was a challenge, but ultimately worth it. “It added stress, such as much less time to complete homework and less time to sleep. But I was able to make lifelong friends and participate in hard competitions.” Adelle would tell her kindergarten self these wise words: “Don't let people tell you that unicorns don't exist.”

Ashley Nguyen

Ashley Nguyen – University of Southern California

Ashley Nguyen – Chinh Nghia Elementary School (Vietnam), Jane Long Academy, Lamar High School

Ashley Nguyen is heading to the University of Southern California to study Neuroscience. “My interest in the human brain definitely inspires me to consider two specialties – anesthesiologist or neurosurgeon – as career options.” One of Ashley’s favorite memories from high school was Spirit Week. “Seeing everyone dressing up and showing up at school according to the themes was something we don't usually see at Lamar on a regular day.” She was involved in many clubs and organizations, including Key Club, NHS, EMERGE, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. “One piece of advice that I would definitely give my kindergarten self is to enjoy life and be as joyful as you can because you should not be worried about anything as a kindergartener!”

Kaleb Cole

Kaleb Cole – Texas A&M University (Senior photo: Prestige)

Kaleb Cole – West U Elementary School, Pershing Middle School, Lamar High School

Kaleb Cole is off to Texas A&M University, where he will study Business. After he earns his degree, Kaleb’s plan is to join the Marines. “Both of my grandfathers were in the service. I have always wanted to serve my county in a similar fashion.” He hopes to serve as a Marine and one day earn the rank of lieutenant colonel. Kaleb’s favorite part of high school was interacting with friends and classmates throughout the day. “I had few opportunities to have face-to-face interactions with my friends this year, though.” To his kindergarten self, Kaleb would say: “Keep improvising. It works out well.”

Arnulfo Macias

Arnulfo Macias – San Jacinto College (Senior photo: Prestige)

Arnulfo Macias – Ketelsen Elementary School, Meyerland Performing and Visual Arts Middle School, Lamar High School

Arnulfo Macias is heading to San Jacinto College, where he will study Mechanics. His father sparked his interest in the field. “My dad is a mechanic, and I have been helping him for as long as I can remember. I go to work with him on Saturdays. To me, it's just so much fun.” At Lamar, Arnulfo volunteered with ROTC. He loved meeting new people and helping with the Special Olympics. Arnulfo would tell his kindergarten self to not let one class define you. He would advise to find where your strengths are and go after them.

Torryn Sales

Torryn Sales – Syracuse University (Senior photo: Prestige)

Torryn Sales – Regina Howell Elementary School, Riverwood Middle School, Lamar High School

Torryn Sales is heading to Syracuse University to study Biology Pre-Med. She hopes to one day be a surgeon. Covid has felt isolating to Torryn and prevented her from meeting new people. “The lack of engagement with my learning has caused me to lose my passion for education.” In college, Torryn hopes to reignite that passion for learning and looks forward to finding more interests. If Torryn got a chance to chat with her kindergarten self, she would say: “Don’t be afraid to try new things and get out your comfort zone.”

Alyssa Solis

Alyssa Solis – Houston Community College

Alyssa Solis – Mark Twain Elementary School, Pershing Middle School, Lamar High School

Alyssa Solis is heading to Houston Community College and then plans to attend the University of Houston. This graduating class has been affected by more than just the pandemic. “Harvey, a snowstorm, and, of course, Covid have all impacted my high school experience. This senior class has had to deal with so many challenges. I think we are all pretty prepared for the road ahead.” Alyssa would tell her kindergarten self to enjoy the little things in life more often and to enjoy every special moment because they come and go so quickly.

Ja'Von West

Ja'Von West – Texas A&M Kingsville

Ja'Von West – Betsy Ross Elementary School, Clifton Middle School, Lamar High School

Ja’Von West is heading to Texas A&M Kingsville, where he will study Engineering. One of Ja’Von’s favorite memories from high school was a conversation he had with Chris Gardner, the creator of The Pursuit of Happyness. “He was speaking at Lamar, and I was the first to speak to him because I went to the auditorium early, not knowing he was there yet. And we had the greatest conversation about life.” A piece of advice Ja’von would pass along to his kindergarten self is to be yourself and don't be afraid to make new friends.

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

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