Class of 2022
Where are they headed?
The Class of 2022’s story is one of coming back together. Picking up relationships, friendships, classes from where they left them. Re-learning how to be in a community.
This class of seniors wasn’t even halfway through high school when the Covid pandemic hit. Due to the unpredictability of Covid spikes, which brought classes back online – and then back in-person – they’ve had to become comfortable with living in a transitional state. In March 2020, mere weeks into the pandemic, comedian and writer Ariana Lenarsky expressed the widely-held sentiment: “I am tired of being a part of a major historical event.” We are sure this class of graduates can relate to that feeling.
These seniors have seen virtual versions of many high school milestones. This year, there was exponentially more excitement in a real, live senior prom where they could reach out and hug their friends. Students have shared that they think living through the Covid era made their class closer, and that they have gained a capacity to handle change – to roll with the punches, so to speak. As we shuffle our lives back into order, it’s important to remember the hard-won character attributes that this time has wrought – not that suffering should happen; but that it did nonetheless, and that it has had meaning.
Our annual tradition here at The Buzz is to share our graduating neighbors’ future plans. As they leave the nest and transform from adorable kiddos to high school graduates, we celebrate their achievements. Read on to see what they wish they had known as kindergarteners, and what they’re looking forward to in the next chapter of their lives. Congrats on making it through, guys. Cheers to the Class of 2022!
Lauren Dauber – Condit Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, The Emery/Weiner School
Lauren Dauber is headed to the University of Michigan to study Psychology. She’d tell her kindergarten self to do what makes her happy, and always be kind. Her 10th- and 11th-grade history teachers Ms. Holly Daniel and Dr. William Epps inspired her to study psychology. They encouraged her to ask questions and look deeper into the whys of history and life. She’s looking forward to studying something that she will be able to use to help people in the future. Her dream is to be a counseling psychologist.
Madeline Hsu – Horn Elementary, Pin Oak Middle School, Carnegie Vanguard High School
Madeline Hsu is off to Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, majoring in Psychology on the Pre-Dental track. She would tell her kindergarten self to take more risks and never give up. Her seventh-grade teacher Ms. Kerri Coffman helped her to realize her potential and gave her the confidence to take on leadership roles. Madeline says that Ms. Coffman was always willing to help her out with anything and inspired her to always try to help others. Her dream job is to be an orthodontist.
Mary-Ellen Abshire – Saint Thomas’ Episcopal School
Mary-Ellen Abshire is headed to Baylor University to study Business. She would tell her kindergarten self three things: “Work hard. Be nice to people. Never stop drinking chocolate milk.” She is looking forward to beginning an education that will eventually lead to her career, pursuing new interests, and challenging herself. She is grateful to yearbook teacher David Graves for challenging her writing and design abilities, expecting nothing less than perfection, and making her earn her position as yearbook co-editor-in-chief. She doesn’t know what her dream job is yet, but she is intrigued by pursuing her childhood dream of being a mermaid. We wish her the best of luck.
Alexis Bartley – Horn Elementary, Pershing Middle School, St. Agnes Academy
Alexis Bartley is off to University of Alabama to study Business/Nursing. She would tell her kindergarten self, simply: Don’t cut your hair really short. She credits Dr. Nadia Lara, her sophomore-year Organic Chemistry teacher, with sparking her interest in chemistry as a future career. She’s looking forward to freedom in the next chapter of her life. Her dream job is to be a traveling nurse/yacht sailor.
Gavin Mott – Horn Elementary, Trafton Academy, St. Thomas High School
Gavin Mott is headed to Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina to study Business. He would tell his kindergarten self to continue to work hard in the classroom and in sports. He’s most looking forward to experiencing college life and living in another part of the country. A teacher who has changed his life is Coach Nick Ignatiev, who Gavin says taught him not only how to be a better lacrosse player, but also how to be a better man. He doesn’t have a singular dream job but wants to be a leader. His favorite moment from high school was when Varsity Football beat St. Pius X in his freshman year.
Alex Mott – Horn Elementary, Trafton Academy, Houston Christian High School
Alex Mott is headed to Baylor University to study Business and Pre-Law. She would tell her kindergarten self: “Your self-worth is not dependent upon other people’s opinions of you. Be kind to yourself!” She is grateful to her geography teacher Ms. Natalie Kroneman, who Alex says went above and beyond by supporting her during one of the most difficult times in her life. She is looking forward to forging new friendships and growing in her faith at Baylor. Her favorite moment of high school was when she was chosen as the Diversity Club president and had the opportunity to help organize and emcee Houston Christian's annual International Festival. Her dream job is to follow in her mother’s footsteps by becoming an outstanding deal lawyer and leader in the community.
Danielle Tackett – West University Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Second Baptist School
Danielle Tackett is headed to Auburn University, studying on the Pre-Physician’s Assistant track at the Honors College. She would tell her younger self to play sports for her high school instead of club sports, so she could be a part of the community of the school team. Her favorite moment from high school was the 2021 Junior vs. Senior Powder Puff Flag Football game, where the junior class not only established a real sense of camaraderie around a game they all loved to play, but also forged new friendships. The teacher who most influenced Danielle was math teacher Ms. Allison Armond, who re-explained lessons and theorems during her free period and class time. Danielle says this helped develop a foundation which enabled her to succeed in future AP classes. Her dream is to be a Physician’s Assistant.
Molly Vestal – Horn Elementary, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School
Molly Vestal is off to University of California, Santa Barbara to study History. Molly’s 10th-grade AP World History teacher Ms. Kate Nocca invigorated her love for history and inspired her to pursue it as a career. She would tell her kindergarten self: “Work hard but not too hard; it’s about the memories you make on the journey that take you to your destination.” Her favorite moment from high school is waking up for the sunrise on the first day of senior year with her friends. Molly is looking forward to growing into her truest self, making new memories, and creating lifelong friendships in the next phase of her life. Her dream is to be a European History professor.
Elizabeth “Beth Ann” Dominey – St. John’s School
Elizabeth “Beth Ann” Dominey is headed to Auburn University to study Business. She would tell her kindergarten self: “Listen to Mom when she says ‘Know who you are and whose you are.’” Her eighth-grade math teacher Mr. Antonio Ventura is the teacher that changed her life the most. She says he taught her not only math, but also life lessons, like how to treat other people. She’s excited to meet new people in college, especially since she’s been at the same school since kindergarten. Her dream job is to be the creator and owner of a fitness apparel company.
Hannah Lai – Condit Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School
Hannah Lai is headed to Blinn College to study Kinesiology. She would tell her kindergarten self to take advantage of nap time while she still has it. Her cheer coach Roxanne Perez impacted her life by teaching her to put forth her best effort 100 percent of the time. Her dream is to be a physical therapist so she can help injured athletes get back to their sports.
Porter Sikes – River Oaks Elementary School, GEMS World Academy (Dubai), Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions
Porter Sikes is headed abroad to the University of St. Andrews in Scotland to study Molecular Biology & Biotechnology. He would tell his kindergarten self: “Try as many new and challenging things as possible. The best time to experience all the things you can do, and learn what you may be capable of, is when you are young, and the younger you start the better.” His favorite memory from high school was the end of his junior year, when school was back in person and the stress of AP exams had ended. His dream job would be to perform research for medical innovations, so he can help others improve their quality of life.
Heidi Tamm – Condit Elementary School, Saint Thomas' Episcopal School
Heidi Tamm is headed to Washington University in St. Louis to major in Applied Math. She would tell her kindergarten self that going to bed late is not cool; she may think that naptime is unnecessary, but it is not worth it. One of her favorite teachers was Mary Beinemann, her Latin teacher who assigned unique projects around the Classics, like painting plaster to look like ancient frescoes. She is interested in the intersection of animation and computer science, and her dream job would be working at Pixar.
Maya Harpavat – The Post Oak School, Saint Thomas' Episcopal, St. Agnes Academy
Maya Harpavat is off to Rice University to study the Medical Humanities. She would tell her kindergarten self to persevere, and that nothing is impossible. Maya has been inspired by Sister Jane Meyer, St. Agnes’ head of school, to be a leader and friend in her community with a positive attitude. Her favorite memory from high school was traveling to the Texas Renaissance Festival to perform with the St. Agnes/Strake Triple Trio. Her dream job is to be a traveling pediatrician who writes books about complex medical topics for younger students to understand.
Caitlyn Nguyen – Saint Thomas’ Episcopal School
Caitlyn Nguyen is headed to the University of St. Thomas to study Biology. She would tell her kindergarten self to always strive for the best in the things that you love, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you stumble. Don’t beat yourself up over one bad grade, a fumbled presentation, or a lost competition. Caitlyn credits her dance teachers, Mrs. Donna Cusack and Ms. Diane MacPhee, with not only instilling the love of dance in her, but also teaching her the true meaning of determination and perseverance. Her dream job would allow her to make a difference in people’s lives while satisfying her love for science, specifically biology and chemistry.
Daija N. Satcher – Condit Elementary School, T.H. Rogers School, St. Agnes Academy
Daija N. Satcher is off to the University of Virginia to study Public Health on the Pre-Med track. She would tell her kindergarten self: “Don't be afraid to take chances. You'll never know what could have been if you never tried.” One teacher who made a mark on her was Mrs. Kathy Higgins from Condit Elementary, who made her feel special and showed how much she believed in her and her abilities. She is looking forward to living in a different part of the country and getting to know people from all over. Her dream job is to be a pediatric allergist and help people overcome their food allergies.
Bella Mansfield – Kolter Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School
Bella Mansfield is headed to Texas A&M University for Engineering. She would tell her kindergarten self to take more chances, and don't worry about what other people think of you. She is grateful to preschool teacher Ms. Shelly Hunter for helping to break her out of her shell and making her more comfortable in group settings. Her dream is to be some type of engineer; she knows she would like to be doing something that makes a difference in the world. Her favorite part of high school was being on the Bellaire Belles Dance Team and making lifelong friends.
Zoey Leslie Hess – The Shlenker School, The Emery/Weiner School
Zoey Leslie Hess is headed to Southern Methodist University, where she will study Business Management. She would tell her kindergarten self to live in the moment and enjoy what’s happening instead of fearing what will happen in the future. She is looking forward to learning more about herself in the next chapter of her life. Mrs. Holly Daniel, her 10th-grade History and 12th-grade Psychology teacher, had a significant impact on her life. In addition to Mrs. Daniel’s valuable feedback as a teacher, Zoey admires her dedication and endless compassion for her students. Zoey’s dream job would be to lead Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at a large firm, where she could enforce the concept that business has a responsibility to do good.
Joselyn Lwigale – Kolter Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
Joselyn Lwigale is off to Rice University to study Medical Humanities on a Pre-Med track. She’s looking forward to taking classes that push the boundaries of what she thinks she knows. She would tell her kindergarten self: “Be you and live your life to the fullest. Play, explore, create – have fun!” Joselyn says that Ms. Kelsey Amundson, her first-grade teacher, had a bright and inspiring energy that made it a joy to come into her class every day, and put her on track to becoming the avid reader and confident person she is today. One of her favorite moments was helping with the Visual Arts audition process at HSPVA, helping make sure the only thing that students had to worry about is doing their best on their drawings.
Garrett Groogan – Herod Elementary School, The Monarch School
Garrett Groogan is off to a vocational/employment training program. He’d tell his younger self that there will be a lot of hard work ahead, and to work hard to stay calm and do the right thing. One of the highlights of his high school career was when his teacher, Ms. Austina Morgan, nominated him for the Presidential Education Award. He enjoyed his choir, musical theatre, and drama classes, as well as his coding class. Garrett’s dream is to be a voice actor. He has done some theatre productions and has his first official paying gig in a Viking movie that will be filmed locally next fall.
Lorell Black – Westbury Christian School
Lorell Black is headed to Texas Christian University to study Nursing. She would tell her kindergarten self to live in the moment and enjoy every day. She’s looking forward to finding out who she is and growing into a secure and mature adult. Her dream job is to be a labor and delivery nurse. Her favorite moment from high school was celebrating her birthday with her “teacher birthday twin” and history and economics teacher Mr. Joseph Greer.
Heaven E. Thomas – Whispering Hope Christian Academy, Westbury Christian School
Heaven E. Thomas is off to North Carolina A&T State University to study Biology on the Pre-Med track. She would tell her kindergarten self to enjoy life, be proactive, forgive quickly, and enjoy school because it will be over before you know it. One of her favorite moments from high school was the sisterhood and teamwork on her Varsity Cheer squad in her sophomore year. She says Ms. Casey Burton changed her life by being the first teacher to really challenge her academically and teaching her the importance of avoiding “dead” (overused) words. Her dream is to become one of the best ob-gyns in the nation.
Lily Pesikoff – St. John’s School
Lily Pesikoff is headed to Occidental College in California to study music. Her favorite moment from high school was playing “All Star” by Smash Mouth at a 10th-grade music assembly. One of her role models is 11th-grade history teacher Eleanor Cannon, a woman full of passion, energy, and power who made it exciting to learn. If she could talk to her kindergarten self, she would say: “You probably should have lost the haircut sooner.”
Devin Watkins – Westbury Christian School
Devin Watkins is headed to the University of Houston to study Art on a Pre-Dental Track. He would tell his kindergarten self to not let people make or break your happiness. His senior leadership teacher John Drexel changed his life by encouraging Devin and his classmates to grow in their faith, while also teaching them to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. His favorite moment from high school was his school’s Senior Experience, a trip where all the seniors spend a weekend to bond before going their separate ways. His dream job is to be a dentist.
Catrina Coe – West University Elementary School, Lanier Middle School, Bellaire High School
Catrina Coe is off to the University of California, Santa Barbara to study Anthropology on the Pre-Med track. She would tell her kindergarten self: “Don’t rush through everything; time goes by way faster than you realize.” She is vice president of dance team eMotion Dance Company. Her favorite moment from high school was when eMotion Dance Company won first place overall out of 26 other teams at HISD’s MA Dance Competition. Her dream job is to be a surgeon.
Abigail Goldman – The Fay School, Presbyterian School, The Emery/Weiner School
Abigail Goldman is headed to The New School in New York City to study Philosophy. She would tell her kindergarten self to not worry so much about external judgments. Her favorite moment from high school was camping in Big Bend with her classmates freshman year. Her favorite teacher was her senior English teacher, Ms. Casey Fleming, who inspired her by making things like Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus fun and engaging. Abigail’s dream job is something that brings her happiness and enables her to help others, and she’s looking forward to beginning her life in New York City.
Jason Gerber – River Oaks Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, The Emery/Weiner School
Jason Gerber is heading to American University, where he will study Audio Technology. Jason would tell his kindergarten self to try everything because you never know what you might fall in love with. He followed this advice by trying everything in high school: football, theatre, and being in a band. His most memorable teacher was Ms. Linda Nelson, from third grade at River Oaks Elementary School, who taught his class about Egypt by mummifying a Cornish game hen. Jason still has his. He says that he is most looking forward to “meeting new people and leaving Houston (ha, ha).” His dream job is to manage a concert venue.
Esha Garg – The Village School
Esha Garg is off to Yale University to study Political Science, with interests in Computer Science and Gender/Race Studies. She would tell her kindergarten self: “Work hard, but take the time to get your head out of the books and go on adventures with some new (non-imaginary) friends.” Her favorite moment in high school was her senior-year lock-in. She bonded with her senior classmates as they played on swings and slides in the elementary school playground they grew up on, read picture books, and watched the stars while sharing stories in their tents. She is grateful for college counselor Erik Ostergren for teaching her that it is important to work towards your dreams and goals and trust the process, but also have realistic backups if things do not work out. Her dream job would involve making a real impact in her community, whether by driving change as a leader in the federal government or innovating a more inclusive world as a social entrepreneur.
Alexandria Alvarez – Collingwood School (West Vancouver, Canada), St. Anne Catholic School, Incarnate Word Academy
Alexandria Alvarez is headed to the University of Alabama to study Criminal Justice. She would tell her kindergarten self to be herself. One of the best teachers she had was Dr. Johnson, her chemistry teacher. Alexandria says Dr. Johnson’s encouragement gave her the confidence to get an A in chemistry class and go on to thrive in later high school science classes. One of her favorite moments in high school was dropping off four carloads of unused toy, clothing, and shoe donations to the Salvation Army Family Residences with her Leading with Service class. Her dream job is to be an FBI agent.
Olivia Wang – Deer Valley Elementary (Birmingham, Ala.), St. Mark’s Episcopal School, Episcopal High School
Olivia Wang is headed to The Juilliard School in New York City to study dance. She would tell her kindergarten self to stay present, and really enjoy your younger years – they go by quickly. Olivia notes that her senior year AP Literature teacher, Mrs. Hailey Zipfel, reignited her passion for literature. She is most looking forward to being able to wake up every day in New York City and study what she loves: dance! She hopes to become a professional dancer and travel internationally with a dance company.
Cory Kardesch – The Fay School, River Oaks Baptist School, Episcopal High School
Cory Kardesch is headed to The University of Texas at Austin for Urban Studies and Pre-Architecture. If he could give his kindergarten self some advice, he would say: Don’t chase your puppy down the stairs (which is why he had a broken arm on his first day of kindergarten). He is looking forward to the whole college campus experience – meeting new people and stellar classes/professors. His favorite part of high school was serving as class president/vice president all four years. He says that his teacher Ms. Alice Berry has helped him fall in love with the Spanish language so much that he spent a few summers serving and studying in Spanish-speaking countries. His dream job is to be an architect.
Margrethe Jensen – West University Elementary School, River Oaks Baptist School, Episcopal High School
Margrethe Jensen is off to Wake Forest University to study Psychology and Art History. She would tell her kindergarten self to not stress so much about growing up, and instead appreciate every stage of your life; you can be a kid for as long as you want to. One of the most influential teachers in her life has been Reverend Phuc Luu, her Religion teacher, who she says has offered her a lot of good advice and perspective. She’s looking forward to being relatively on her own for the first time in her life and being able to grow as a person in a new environment. Her dream job would be to own an art gallery for shows and talk about different interpretations of art all day.
Sophia Neylon – West University Elementary School, River Oaks Baptist School, Episcopal High School
Sophia Neylon is headed to Baylor University for Health Science Studies. She would tell her kindergarten self to make every moment count – whether at home, school, or with friends and family. She is excited to meet new people from around the country and experience life on her own for the first time. She is also looking forward to continuing her athletic career on Baylor’s Acrobatics and Tumbling team. She says her cheer coach, Leigh Anne Raymond, has shaped her into the person she is today by pushing her to be her best, inspiring her to trust in her faith always, and teaching her to follow her heart. Sophia says she strives every day to become more like her. Her dream job is to become an orthopedic surgeon and help those pursuing their athletic dreams recover from injury.
Luke Evans – St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School, St. Thomas High School
Luke Evans is headed to Boston College to study Political Science. He would tell his kindergarten self to try anything and everything. Luke believes that the most important thing that any young person can do is to try new things and to discover what truly makes them happy. He’s excited to be able to explore Boston and meet new people, and to eventually take advantage of the global education study abroad program. His favorite moment from high school was hitting back-to-back home runs that led to a five-run inning. He has been most influenced by his AP English teacher Mrs. Claudia Mundell, who made him a more confident writer, and whose lessons helped him as the editor of the St. Thomas Eagle Magazine. His dream job is to be involved in the operations of a professional sports organization.
Landon Croker – Oak Forest Elementary School, Frank Black Middle School, St. Thomas High School
Landon Croker is off to the University of Texas at Austin to study Aerospace Engineering. He would tell his kindergarten self to always make sure to have fun, and to not take himself too seriously. He’s looking forward to being in a community of peers and having some breathing room away from his younger siblings. His favorite high school memory was being in charge of Round Up, St. Thomas’ primary scholarship fundraiser, and executing one of the largest assemblies in school history, where they announced that they had shattered the previous fundraising record. His dream is to oversee the designing, building, and launching of rockets and components to Mars and beyond.
Zac Gould – Hunters Creek Elementary School, Cornerstone Academy, Memorial High School
Zac Gould is headed to Southern Methodist University to study Advertising/Communications. He would tell his kindergarten self: “Don’t care what other people think about you, don’t stress about grades until high school, and invest in Bitcoin.” He credits Mr. Nichols, his eighth-grade history teacher at Cornerstone Academy, with getting him to care about learning again and sparking his fascination with history. His favorite moment from high school was performing in Mamma Mia! this year. He says it was one of the best shows the school has ever put on, and he is glad he auditioned for it. His dream job is to be an actor on TV shows and movies. He has been acting since middle school and has loved every minute of it.
Kyle Zoboroski – Nottingham Elementary School, Cornerstone Academy, Stratford High School
Kyle Zoboroski is heading to LeTourneau University to study Engineering. He would tell his kindergarten self to put others first. He is looking forward to making long-lasting friendships in the next chapter of his life. His most influential teacher was his eighth-grade history teacher Ms. Catherine Wood-Sponsel, who made learning fun. His dream job would be any job where he can help people.
Abigail Boerm – Wilchester Elementary School, Memorial Middle School, Stratford High School
Abigail Boerm is off to Texas A&M University to study Chemical Engineering. Abigail would tell her kindergarten self that no one will realize when you wear the same outfit as the day before. She credits her volleyball coach Jennifer Adcock with teaching her that women are powerful, and how to advocate for herself without being rude or demanding. Her dream job is creating ways to reduce pollution in our world, whether it be a new type of plastic that biodegrades or a way to reduce plastic usage.
Philippine Clocher – Barbara Bush Elementary, Wolf Elementary, The Village School
Philippine Clocher is headed abroad to ESMOD (École supérieure des arts et techniques de la mode) in Paris, France, to study fashion design. She would tell her kindergarten self: “Don't let anyone tell you it can't be accomplished, because anything is possible with enough determination.” As she is new to the fashion world, she is most excited about learning the different aspects of what it entails and making her mark on it. She is grateful to her Art teacher Mrs. Katie Lopez, who created a school fashion show where Philippine first learned that she had a knack for clothing design. She is thankful to Mrs. Lopez for opening the door to that world. Her favorite moment from high school was getting her acceptance email to ESMOD. She says she is so glad to have shared that moment with her mother, as her mother inspires her to be great every day.
Parker Samuelson – Rummel Creek Elementary School, Memorial Middle School, Stratford High School
Parker Samuelson is off to Tulane University to study Engineering. He would tell his kindergarten self to eat less candy. His favorite moment from high school was qualifying for State in the Pole Vault in his junior year, and he’s looking forward to Pole Vaulting at the collegiate level on the Track and Field Team at Tulane. His dream job is to have his own business building and restoring cars. His favorite teacher was Dr. Kimberly Coolidge, his fourth-grade English and Social Studies teacher at Rummel Creek, because she made it exciting to learn.
Catherine Piskurich – Nottingham Elementary School, Spring Forest Middle School, Stratford High School
Catherine Piskurich is headed to Texas Christian University to study Biology on the Pre-Med track. While in her seventh-grade year at Spring Forest, Ms. Yasmin Azeem helped cultivate her love for science and opened her eyes to all the amazing ways science is relevant everywhere. Through a hands-on and extremely welcoming learning environment, Catherine learned that she could do whatever she put her mind to. Her favorite moments from high school were her performances in theater and with the Spartanaire Dance Team. Catherine would tell her kindergarten self: “Find joy in everything, it’s much more fun to live a life you find exciting!” Her dream job is to be a pediatrician.
Maddy Fields – Rummel Creek Elementary School, Memorial Middle School, Stratford High School
Maddy Fields is headed to Baylor University to study Theatre Performance with a concentration in Musical Theatre. In January 2022, Maddy got to perform her dream role as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. After rehearsing since May with Covid spikes, injuries, a day’s delay, and Stratford’s auditorium being torn down, the cast drove across town to Houston Baptist University to put on the show on a borrowed stage. Maddy says those five performances were the five hardest days of her life, but also the five best days of her life so far. Her dream job is to perform on stage. She says the magic of a live performance is incomparable, because theatre has the power to change people’s hearts, minds, and lives.
Andrew Farrant – The Awty International School
Andrew Farrant is off to the United States Military Academy at West Point. He is looking forward to the camaraderie of the Corp of Cadets and challenging himself physically and mentally. He would tell his kindergarten self that dedication and hard work always pay off. He has been most influenced by his sixth-grade debate teacher, Mr. Jack Lyons (USMA 1965), who first told him about West Point.
Caitlyn McConnell – Horn Elementary, St. Mark’s Episcopal School, Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart
Caitlyn McConnell is headed to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she will study Dramatic Writing. If she could give her kindergarten self one piece of advice, she would say, in the words of Mark Zuckerberg, “Move fast and break things.” She is grateful to Mrs. Lesli Dabney for her encouragement: challenging her to dig deeper in her creative writing class, supporting her poetry, and giving her notes on her first screenplay. She is looking forward to working on her craft in a community of creatives at Tisch and hopes that her college experience will help her find her voice as a writer, and pave new ways of storytelling. She loved writing for School Buzz and wants to be a writer in the entertainment industry. Her favorite TV show is Dawson’s Creek.
Mackenzie McKown – Memorial Drive Elementary, Spring Branch Middle School, Memorial High School
Mackenzie McKown is headed to Rhodes College. She is looking forward to continuing her academic and athletic career at Rhodes, particularly playing for the Women’s Basketball team. Her athletic career was encouraged by her Varsity Basketball Coach Jyusef Larry, who gave her the confidence she lacked in her athletic ability, making her believe in herself both on and off the basketball court. Her favorite moment from high school was being selected as District 17-6A Newcomer of the Year. Her dream job is to run a nonprofit for underprivileged kids and teach them about all the benefits of sports such as accountability, dedication, and leadership among others.
Charlie Chandler – Hunters Creek Elementary, Spring Branch Middle School, Memorial High School
Charlie Chandler is headed to Texas A&M University to study Agribusiness. Charlie would tell his kindergarten self: “The winning numbers for the 1.5 billion dollar Powerball Jackpot on January 13, 2016 are: 4, 8, 19, 27, 34 and Powerball 10.” He’s looking forward to independence in the next phase of his life. His dream job is retirement.
Thomas Chin – Garden International School (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), American International School of Lagos (Nigeria), International School of Beijing (China), The Village School
Thomas Chin is headed to the Georgia Institute of Technology to major in Computer Science. He would tell his kindergarten self to never underestimate yourself, and to strive for the best even when you think you are the worst. His IB Computer Science teacher, Mansoor Ansari, deeply shaped his life by turning his hatred for computer science into a strong fascination with programming. Thomas is grateful for Mr. Ansari’s sense of humor and incredible teaching, which nurtured his interest in programming and taught him valuable life skills. Thomas helped create the first Boys Volleyball team at The Village School. One of his favorite moments was their first practice, when he saw over 20 people show up to join the team. His dream job is to run his own tech company as the CEO, and spearhead innovation in artificial intelligence and technology.
Nathanael Kumar – The International School of Stavanger (Hafrsfjord, Norway), Anthony Middle School, The Village School
Nathanael Kumar is headed to the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music to study Euphonium Performance & Composition. He wouldn’t tell his younger self anything – he’s happy with where he is, so he thinks the path he took seems to have worked out all right. One teacher who has changed his life was Mr. Michael Scaife, who he says showed him how valuable English classes can be – making people better users of language and helping them appreciate its beauty. His dream job is to be a bass-trombone player in a symphony orchestra, while working as a freelance euphonist, composer, and private instructor on the side. His favorite moment from high school was when he had the privilege of performing a euphonium solo called “Blue Bells of Scotland” with the Houston Symphonic Band.
Arham Hassan – Wesgreen International School (Sharjah, UAE), The Village School
Arham Hassan is off to Texas A&M University to study Biology (Natural Sciences). He would tell his kindergarten self to enjoy each moment and to not change who he is for others. His favorite high school moment was his class trip to Puerto Rico, which included everything “from hotel tragedies to late night bus arguments, to sight-seeing and exploring the waters with close friends.” He aspires to get deep into the mechanisms of human diseases and explore the avenues to improve medical science and global health.
Kyle Winkler – Rosehill Christian School, St. Pius X High School
Kyle Winkler is headed to Sam Houston State University to major in Accounting and play baseball. The teacher that truly made an impact on him was Ms. Margaret Buehler, his English teacher who helped him learn to write papers, and see that writing was not so scary. Kyle says she built his confidence in not only writing papers, but also giving speeches, and reading out loud. She helped him to discover books that he actually enjoyed reading, and truly cares about her students. His dream job is working at Texas Children's Hospital in the Business Administration or Finance Department. His favorite memory from high school is his first Varsity Baseball Game, where he immediately felt like part of a team, and knew St. Pius X was the school where he was meant to be.
Evan Gibson – The Kinkaid School
Evan Gibson is headed to George Washington University in D.C. to study Computer Science and Business Analytics. He would tell his kindergarten self to know what you can control and what you can’t, and to always find a way to get better – because two steps forward and one step back is still one step forward. One teacher who has changed his life was Ms. Pat Cavanagh, who helped him with his learning differences from grades 1-3. His favorite part of high school was his senior lacrosse season, and his dream job is to be the General Manager of the Houston Astros.
Sydney Ward – Nottingham Country Elementary, Memorial Parkway Junior High, The Village School
Sydney Ward is headed to the University of the Pacific to study Biology. She would tell her kindergarten self that it’s not a bad thing to be a perfectionist, because that means you don't settle. Teacher Mr. Dax Nesossi changed her life by encouraging her to “be the change that you want to see in the world,” and by modeling a life lived with joy. Her favorite moment in high school was winning state in varsity basketball her sophomore year and staying in the hotel overnight. Her dream job is to be a surgeon.
Ogheneteguono Okotete – Loyola Jesuit College (Nigeria), The Village School
Ogheneteguono Okotete is headed to Vanderbilt University to study Computer Science and Economics. He would tell his kindergarten self to always focus on the fundamentals, because building a strong foundation is important before further advancement. His favorite memory was his sophomore-year class trip to Puerto Rico. He is looking forward to the college learning experience from both an academic and student-life viewpoint. He hopes that new relationships and diverse perspectives in college will give him the tools he needs to become a strong leader. His dream job is to become the CEO and founder of his own startup in the finance or technology industry.
Claire Julissa Carbajal – Buffalo Creek Elementary School, St. Jerome Catholic School, St. Pius X High School
Claire Julissa Carbajal is headed to Texas Tech University to study Civil Engineering. She would tell her kindergarten self to stop wanting to grow up fast, and to enjoy the lack of worries and stress. Her favorite moments from high school were performing at halftime shows during home games. The teacher who has changed her life is her college counselor, Mrs. Claudia Valbuena-Mejia, who helped her immensely as she journeyed into the college pathway as a first-generation student in the United States. Her dream job is to be a civil engineer.
Telman Aliyev – The Village School
Telman Aliyev is headed to Baylor University to double-major in Business and Software Engineering. He would tell his kindergarten self that great things come with hard work. He is glad that he was placed in Mr. Jason Cantwell’s World History class during his freshman year. Telman says that Mr. Cantwell not only made history an exciting class but helped to greatly ease the stress of his adjustment to high school. He would like to become an entrepreneur and create a profitable business that will address one of the many critical issues in today’s society and place corporate social responsibility as a top priority. An influential moment from high school was his class service trip to Puerto Rico, where they helped to rebuild a school that was badly damaged during Hurricane Maria. It showed how powerful and dangerous nature can be, and how almost any problem can be resolved when a group of motivated people come together.
Lucia Collins – Barbara Bush Elementary School, The Village School
Lucia Collins is off to the University of Texas at Austin to study Nursing. She would advise her kindergarten self to remember that no matter how things seem at any given time, they’ll always get better. Her interest in biology and ensuing love of medicine were inspired by her Biology and Anatomy & Physiology teacher Ms. Andrea Lee. Lucia credits Ms. Lee as a major factor in her decision to go into the medical field. Her favorite moments from high school have been playing Dungeons & Dragons with her friends. She to looking forward to meeting new people at college, especially since UT Austin is much larger than any school she has been to before. Her dream job would be to work as a nurse anesthetist, with a side job as an artist.
Connor Nguyen – Singapore American School, Dhahran Middle School (Dhahran, Saudi Arabia), The Village School
Connor Nguyen is headed to Rice University to study Neuroscience. He would tell his kindergarten self to be nice to everyone, and to laugh as much as you can. He is looking forward to the freedom and responsibilities of being an independent adult and the opportunity to further himself as a person and in his aspirations. He credits his fifth-grade teacher Mr. Paul DeMichele with teaching him how to be himself, unapologetically. His favorite moment from high school was finding out he was accepted to Rice University, when he felt that all the work he had put in had finally paid off. As teenager-dom is coming to an end, Connor is trying to live by the wisdom of The Office’s Andy Bernard: “I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you've actually left them.”
Dolapo Audrey Ajakaye – The Village School
Dolapo Audrey Ajakaye is headed to the University of Pennsylvania to major in Global Health. She wants to continue to grow and challenge herself by building on activities she has enjoyed throughout high school, including growing her startup company LoveMySkin, expanding her podcast series Mind the Skin, continuing her Skin Advocacy efforts, and giving back through her affiliation with Giving Tuesday as a Spark Leader. She would tell her kindergarten self that when something doesn’t feel right, she should trust her instincts, and to continue exploring and finding her true passions. Her favorite moment from high school was her school’s Diversity Day, which allowed her to immerse herself in the cultural aspects of the school's 80+ nationalities. Her dream is to be a digital health innovator.
Tommy Wan – Mahanay Elementary School, Youngblood Intermediate School, The Village School
Tommy Wan is headed to the University of Texas at Austin to study Civil Engineering and Public Policy. He is grateful to Ms. Jennifer Siler, his high school band director, for teaching him the ins and outs of music, supporting him in pursuing opportunities, and cultivating a sense of family and home. His favorite moment from high school was prom: from eating at a diner at midnight to watching movies until 5 a.m., he is happy to have spent his senior year with the people he loves the most. His dream job is to be a policymaker, as he believes public service is his ultimate calling. He wants to champion fair housing, transportation, immigration, environmental justice, and youth civic empowerment.
Eva Veeningen – West University Elementary School, Veritas Christian Academy, Second Baptist School
Eva Veeningen is headed to Purdue University to study Geology and Geophysics. She would tell her kindergarten self: “Don't worry about what others think about you! If you continue to be authentic to the self that only you can know, the ones you surround yourself with will reflect that.” Her dream job is to work at NASA as a planetary geologist. Eva believes that as we expand onto other planets, we have to know what came before us in order to understand what we have to do in order to live there. Her inspiration for the past two-and-a-half years has been Dr. Kathryn Stack Morgan, and Eva aims to follow in her footsteps at NASA.
Chloe Shrader – Instituto Cumbres Cancún (Mexico), Logos Preparatory Academy, Houston Christian High School
Chloe Shrader is headed to the Savannah College of Art and Design to study Sequential Art. She would tell her kindergarten self to have fun being a kid while you can. Her favorite moment from high school was her time as Painting Crew Chief for the Houston Christian production of Newsies, which she says is a memory she will never forget. The most influential teacher she has had was Ms. Monica Thayer, her art teacher, who has transformed her views on art, life, and her faith. Her dream job is to be a storyboard artist.
Ananya Rao – American Community School of Abu Dhabi, The Village School
Ananya Rao is off to Rice University to study Statistics. Her favorite moment from high school was going to the state swim meet each year with her teammates. Although this chapter of her life has come to an end, she says that swimming has allowed her to meet some of her closest friends and will always have a place in her heart. She credits her Yearbook teacher Alicia Merrifield with teaching her the importance of being a good leader and how focusing on little details makes a big difference. She is grateful that Ms. Merrifield pushed her to break creative boundaries and take risks. Her dream job is to work as a medical researcher that uses data to predict how diseases spread and prepare populations to deal with public health issues.
Laura Bryant Anderson – The Parish School, The Joy School and Wesley Academy, St. Francis Episcopal School
Laura Bryant Anderson is headed to Kanakuk Link Year, a religious gap year program, for biblical studies and mission work. She will then go to High Point University in the fall of 2023. She is looking forward to discovering her purpose at Kanakuk Link Year. She is grateful to her teachers Mr. Justin Doran and Mrs. Caroline Doyle Herrin, whose kindness, patience, and encouragement to go out of her comfort zone and try new things in theater and art made her feel that she was part of something special.
Austin Courtney – West University Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Second Baptist School
Austin Courtney is headed to Clemson University, where he will study Business. If he could tell his kindergarten self anything, it would be “Don't sweat the small stuff. Everything happens for a reason and works out for the best.” His most memorable teacher was Mrs. Elizabeth Dains, his ninth-grade World Geography teacher. He says Mrs. Dains was always happy to meet before and after school to answer any questions and help prepare students for exams. She would talk to her students about anything, providing a welcoming environment for new students. He’s looking forward to college life, and his dream job is to be a financial analyst.
Amber Ramirez – Peterson Elementary School, Nehemiah Middle School, St. Pius X High School
Amber Ramirez is headed to the University of Texas at San Antonio to study Biology on the Pre-Med track. She would tell her kindergarten self, “Don't worry if you look different, or feel you look different, from most other people. There is much more to you than what others see on the surface.” She is excited to be a first-generation college student for her family, and to show them how much they inspired her to exceed in life. A teacher who has changed her life is Ms. Christina Guajardo, who teaches 11th-grade English, AP Literature and Creative Writing. She says Ms. Guajardo has inspired her to become a better person, and to do so through her work. Amber’s favorite moments from high school were performing at halftime at football games: dancing, cheering, and doing what she loves most in front of the crowd. Her dream job is to be an obstetrician-gynecologist.
Peyton Woodlief – St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School, St. Thomas High School
Peyton Woodlief is headed to Texas A&M University to study Engineering. He would tell his kindergarten self: “Always take care to keep up your relationships with others. You never know how long someone will be a part of your life so make the most of it. Goals and aspirations may change, but people stick around a lot longer if you let them.” He’s looking forward to getting a little more freedom, moving to TAMU with a friend he’s been through it all with since first grade, and going to a school his mom doesn’t teach at (finally). A teacher who has changed his life was Mrs. Claudia Harris. He says her class taught him that failure will always come around, but it’s how you face it that makes you who you are and determines how successful you’ll become.
Dylan Lightfoot – Oak Forest Elementary, Presbyterian School, St. Thomas High School
Dylan Lightfoot is headed to Rice University to major in Engineering. He would tell his kindergarten self to never be afraid of putting yourself out for the world to see; people will like you for who you are, not who you say you are. He is both excited and scared of the freedom in the next chapter of his life, as he moves beyond a linear high school schedule and has a choice of how to fill his days. His favorite memory from high school was getting to sing the national anthem with the St. Thomas choir at an Astros game. He says that standing on the field, looking up at the masses of people in the stands, and being within a walking distance of some of the most known players in baseball was an incredible experience. He would like to incorporate both of his interests in veterinary science and engineering into his career, like creating tools to help animals with medical conditions.
Jade Miller – Roberts Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Lutheran High North
Jade Miller is off to Dillard University to study Computer Science. She would tell her kindergarten self to never stop working on her goals, and to believe in herself. In the next chapter of her life, she’s most looking forward to getting the education she needs for a successful career and playing basketball on the college level. The teacher who has changed her life is Mrs. Julie Bennett, who she says has been a great listener. Her dream job is working for or owning a company dealing with technology.
Lauren Koong – Oak Avenue Elementary School (Los Altos, Ca.), Georgina P. Blach Intermediate School (Los Altos, Ca.), Lamar High School
Lauren Koong is headed to Stanford University to study Philosophy or Classics. If she could give her kindergarten self one piece of advice, it would be to enjoy kindergarten while you can. Lauren says that Mr. Tomislav Pustahija, her freshman AP Human Geography teacher, was probably the best teacher she has ever had. She still uses the things she learned in his class today. Her dream job is Editor-in-Chief of The New York Times. Her favorite high school moment was “Jorts Day” on the last day of her junior year.
Campbell Brickley – Saint Thomas’ Episcopal School
Campbell Brickley is headed to Texas A&M University to major in Dance Science. She would tell her kindergarten self: “Work hard in everything you do, and don’t tell yourself you can’t do something, because you absolutely can.” She credits her 9th-grade math teacher, Ms. Christine Saa, with helping her to not only understand math, but also to enjoy it. Her favorite moment from high school was her trip to Scotland with her school to compete in Scottish Highland Dance. She loved getting to make friends from across the world while experiencing a different country. Her dream job is to be a professional dancer and a physical therapist for dancers on the side.
Isey Walton – St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School, St. Pius X High School
Isey Walton is headed to Baylor University to study Business. She would tell her kindergarten self: “Don’t care about what others think.” A teacher who has changed her life was her second-grade teacher Mrs. McClendon, who taught her to treat everyone the way she wants to be treated, and to never judge people. Her favorite part of high school was cheering at Friday night football games, and her dream job is to be an orthodontist.
Chayne Tillis – Westbury Christian School
Chayne Tillis is headed to the University of Texas at Austin to study Civil Engineering at The Cockrell School. He would tell his kindergarten self to enjoy life, relax a bit, and spend time with his friends, instead of putting all his focus on school. He would also tell him it's okay to fail; it builds character. His favorite moments from high school were hanging out in the stands at football games, and Whataburger afterwards. His dream job is to be an engineering project manager for Amazon or some multimillion-dollar company.
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