Class of 2023
Where are they headed?
The class of 2023 is one that feels a bit surreal – post-pandemic, these seniors have experienced virtual and in-person school. Their teen years took place in constantly shifting chaos. They grew up in the midst of it. And even though we’re on the other side of Covid-19, the world feels like it’s still changing at a rapid-fire pace. No one carries cash anymore. Low-rise jeans are back in style. Most couples I know met on a dating app and subscribe to around seven streaming services (and that’s a low estimate).
The modern world has started to feel a bit Matrix-y: we’ve been infiltrated with artificial intelligence bots and cryptocurrency. Some tech guy in Silicon Valley is likely trying to invent a hologram to replace me right now; but somehow, I’m certain that one thing will remain unchanged: the human desire for connection, to hear each other’s stories. These pages are full of well-rounded young people who love to learn. I hope that reading these little snippets about this year’s seniors bring you a little comfort – the more things change, the more things stay the same. Every year, seniors tell us that teachers have changed their lives, that they love their friends deeply, that they are grateful to be a part of their community.
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, what they’re looking forward to in the next chapter of their lives, and more. You did it, y’all – congrats. Cheers to the class of 2023!
Jessica Taylor Sigmon – Mark Twain Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School
Jessica Taylor Sigmon is heading to Baylor to major in Psychology and Criminal Justice. She thinks Waco will be a fun city to explore, and looks forward to it. She hopes to one day work for the FBI as a Criminal Profiler. She says that Ms. Mary Brownfield, her Pre AP English teacher junior year, was one of the first teachers who pushed her to her full potential; “she believed I could do things and I did.”
Margaret Reid – West University Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School
Margaret Reid is headed to Baylor University for Business. She says a teacher who changed her life was her third-grade teacher at West University Elementary, Mrs. Kate Ward, who taught her that “your attitude and mood can have such an impact and it’s important to have joy that you can spread to others.” She would tell her kindergarten self to stop worrying – everything and every plan will fall into place.
Jack Reid – West University Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School
Jack Reid is headed to Baylor University for Business. He is looking forward to figuring out what path in the Baylor business school he will take, as well as meeting new people and attending football games during his fall semesters. His favorite high school memory was participating in Bellaire High School’s annual Mr. Bellaire competition. Ms. Jenny Wood, his second-grade teacher at West University Elementary School, changed his life by teaching him how to overcome distractions and hold himself accountable inside and outside of the classroom. He would tell his kindergarten self that being humble and caring are the keys to living a joyful life.
Ethan Jett – The Imani School, The Kinkaid School
Ethan Jett is heading to Tufts University with a major in Economics and a minor in Entrepreneurship. He would probably tell his kindergarten self to relax and enjoy the moment, because time flies, and next thing you know you’ll be graduating high school. He says Mr. Morris, his third-grade teacher, made a huge impact on him by teaching him the importance of taking pride in your work, and how to carry himself as a young man. He is looking forward to playing soccer at Tufts and living in Boston. Ethan has dreamed of playing soccer at the collegiate level since starting high school, and committing to Tufts made that dream come true.
Peyton Cantrell – Horn Elementary, Pershing Middle School, Bellaire High School
Peyton Cantrell is headed to Texas State University to major in Education. If she could give her kindergarten self one piece of advice, it would be, simply: bangs are not for you. Her favorite teacher was her marketing teacher, Ms. Terri Smith, who was “loving to every student, hardworking, and so funny.” Her favorite moment from high school was when she participated in the Mr. Bellaire pageant, as an escort for one of the contestants. She says that even though she and her friends are sad they’re all about to graduate, getting to do one last thing together was so fun.
Maya Friedberg – Beth Yeshurun Day School, Lanier Middle School, The Emery/Weiner School
Maya Friedberg is off to Middlebury College after a gap semester volunteering in Tanzania. Maya would tell her kindergarten self, “it’s okay to be uncomfortable sometimes – the best memories are a result of uncomfortable situations!” She’s looking forward to volunteering in Tanzania, and meeting different people from all walks of life at Middlebury. Maya says the teacher who changed her life was Spanish teacher and capstone mentor Mrs. Tanya Meinecke-Smith, because she cares about her students and encouraged Maya to pursue whatever made her happy. Her dream is to be involved in non-profit leadership abroad, and her favorite high school memory was when she led the ninth graders on their trip to Big Bend.
Lexi Clark – Horn Elementary, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School
Lexi Clark is looking forward to traveling around the world through Semester at Sea – she is visiting 11 countries this fall! After that, she is heading to Trinity University with a major in Anthropology. She’d tell her kindergarten self to find her passions and pursue them. She credits her Pin Oak theatre teacher, Ms. Kayla Boffone, with inspiring her to pursue acting, believing in her, and encouraging her to be the best version of herself. Lexi was under Ms. Boffone’s direction again all four years of high school at Bellaire in the Advanced Theatre Production Class. Her favorite high school memory was starring in the 2022 BHS Fall Production of Dracula as Dr. Van Helsing. Her dream job is to be an anthropologist working as a museum curator.
Alyssa Wall – Holy Spirit Episcopal School, St. Mark’s Episcopal School, Episcopal High School
Alyssa Wall is heading to Northeastern University for International Business. She would tell her kindergarten self, “Be open to change because it is inevitable, and be grateful for what you have because most things in life are temporary, but that does not mean that they aren’t beautiful or won’t have a profound impact on your life.” Mr. Garhett Wagers, her middle school headmaster at St. Mark’s Episcopal School, changed her life by making her live up to her full potential, and teaching her to be unafraid to speak her mind and tell her story – no matter how hard it may be. Alyssa’s favorite moment from high school was giving a speech in front of the entire school in chapel and receiving a standing ovation.
Shira Alatin – Kolter Elementary School, Lanier Middle School, The Emery/Weiner School
Shira Alatin is headed to a Young Judaea Year Course, studying Marketing. She’d tell her kindergarten self to enjoy your time while you’re here, because time moves faster than expected. Shira’s favorite moment from high school was a spring trip junior year where their class went to a restaurant with a live band; after half an hour, their whole grade was dancing and singing along. Shira says that Mrs. Tanya Meinecke Smith from The Emery/Weiner School is a teacher she will remember for the rest of her life. “Mrs. Meinecke has been my biggest supporter and cheerleader since the day she met me. She is so passionate about teaching and about every one of her students which is so evident through her close relationships with all her students.”
Benjamin Perkins – St. John's School
Benjamin Perkins is headed to Wesleyan University to study Neuroscience and Behavior. The teacher that had the most impact on him was Ms. Paula Angus at St John's, who helped him further his interest in neuroscience and taught him how to read scientific articles. His dream job is to be an orthopedic surgeon.
Willa Berry – Beth Yeshurun Day School, Trafton Academy, The Emery/Weiner School, Colorado Rocky Mountain School
Willa Berry is headed to The University of Alabama on the Pre-Med track. After being away from home at the Colorado Rocky Mountain Boarding School since sophomore year, she’s most looking forward to being back with her brothers at Alabama and learning about pre-medical studies in depth. Her favorite teacher was Mr. AO Forbes, her soccer coach and teacher at school in Colorado. She says he always had something insightful to say, and gave her great advice. Willa’s favorite moment from high school is meeting one of her best friends, and having her as a roommate for three years. Her dream job is to one day become a successful doctor.
Ellie Gibbs – Beth Yeshurun Day School, Trafton Academy, The Briarwood School, St. Pius X High School
Ellie Gibbs is setting off to the University of Missouri on the Pre-Law track, majoring in Political Science. Her dream job is to become a family court judge. Her favorite moment from high school was when she had the opportunity to attend Texas Bluebonnet Girls State. She’ll always remember her junior year history teacher, Mr. Stephen Judice – “he had a great understanding of how we needed to be taught, and made it fun for all of us.” She would tell her kindergarten self to treat others as you want to be treated.
Nathan Marable – Crossroads School, Westbury Christian School
Nathan Marable is off to study Biology at Schreiner University. Nathan would advise his kindergarten self, “When you get to high school, read lots of Henry Thoreau and Emerson!” Having Mr. James Reid in ninth-grade biology was so inspiring that it led to him considering biology as a career field. His favorite moments from high school include: the play productions, the games, and the Junior/Senior Banquet. Nathan’s dream job is being a farmer on the moon. We wish you luck, Nathan.
Connor Kuenstle – St Thomas’ Episcopal School, Episcopal High School
Connor Kuenstle is headed to Lehigh University for Finance. He’d tell his kindergarten self to enjoy recess and snack time while you can. He hopes to one day own his own business and work for himself while making a difference for others. Connor says he’s been blessed with several teachers who made an impact in his life, including Ms. Nguyet Pham, his senior year calculus teacher. Ms. Pham always went above and beyond in her role as a teacher to be encouraging, helpful, and patient. His favorite high school memory was when, after losing at SPC boys soccer junior year, the team got focused, worked hard and earned an SPC championship as seniors – “It was an unforgettable moment and I’m so grateful for it.”
Bakri El-Hakam – Poe Elementary School, Horn Elementary, Meyerland Performing and Visual Arts Middle School, Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
Bakri El-Hakam is headed to Belmont University Nashville for Piano Performance and Music Composition. He’s grateful to his English teacher, Ms. Marilyn Lunnon, for helping him find his voice and learn how to communicate better. His favorite moment from high school was when one of his compositions was performed as part of the piano department recital. It was the first time in department history that a student's work was performed. His dream is composing music for TV, film, theatre, and live performances.
Meredith Ratchford – Condit Elementary School, Lanier Middle School, Bellaire High School
Meredith Ratchford is headed to The University of Alabama to study Music Therapy. Her dream career is helping people through music, whether it's as a licensed professional or just in a passing moment singing together. Ms. Amy Solberg Odiase and Ms. Laurette Reynosa have been incredibly supportive as she participated in both choir and orchestra, and have encouraged her the whole way to pursue music in college. She'd tell her kindergarten self, “Don't stress about little things, or you'll miss big opportunities.”
Rushil Chetty – Horn Elementary School, Lanier Middle School, Strake Jesuit
Rushil Chetty is headed to Princeton University to major in Neuroscience with a minor in Finance, on a Pre-Med track. He’d tell his kindergarten self to trust the process, take time to enjoy the journey, and follow your passions. He is incredibly grateful for his counselors at Strake, Ms. Yvette Simien and Mr. Jeff Fuller, and credits them with altering the trajectory of his life: “Without their consistent support, compassion, and willingness to endure my countless office visits, I would not have reached the level of success that I did while at Strake.” During Covid, he was able to travel to his hometown of Durban, South Africa and attend his classes virtually. He spent almost four months there with his family, particularly his grandfather, who passed shortly after they returned to the States. He says, “while Covid placed a damper on all our lives, it allowed me to spend my Nana’s last few months with him and create memories that I will treasure forever.”
Elisabet Brandsberg-Dahl – The Fay School, The Awty International School
Elisabet Brandsberg-Dahl is off to St. Olaf College to major in Psychology or Biology. Elisabet would tell her kindergarten self, “Sleep in and play as much as you can. Take advantage of being a child without responsibilities.” She was most impacted by her fifth-grade teacher Mrs. Emma Peterson, who created an environment that was nurturing and kind, and prepared her for a new school. Elisabet says, “I don't think I would be the same person without her, and being a part of her class is still one of my fondest memories.” Her favorite moment from high school was the Awty Connects field trip to Alaska. She says it was definitely one of the best experiences she’s had, and that she loved “the snow, the Iditarod dogs, and learning about the ongoing effect climate change is having on our world.”
David Anapolsky – Condit Elementary School, The Emery/Weiner School
David Anapolsky will be studying Robotics Engineering at the University of Michigan. He’s looking forward to the cold weather in Michigan. A teacher who changed his life was his Robotics and Java teacher Brandon Kirby; David says, “I would not have the opportunity to do the things I love to do without his support.” His favorite moment from high school was his Eagle Scout project, where he built 75 mini computers/count down clocks for each teacher at Emery/Weiner. His dream job is helping make the world a better place through engineering and robotics.
Remy Ayman Chritah – St. Thomas’ Episcopal School
Remy Ayman Chritah is off to The University of Texas at Austin to major in Biology. If he could give his kindergarten self one piece of advice, it would be, “Embrace your failures. They are just an opportunity to learn and be better, and always be kind to others.” Remy says that Mr. Bret Ramsey, his freshman year European History teacher and Cross Country coach, “helped me mature as a human being by giving me a desire to develop myself as a person and not just a student.” His dream job is to be a cardiologist, and his favorite moment from high school was winning state freshman year.
Lizzy Newhouse – Condit Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School
Lizzy Newhouse is headed to University of Colorado – Boulder with a major in Marketing. She would tell her kindergarten self to follow your creative side and use your imagination as much as possible. She would love to one day work in marketing in the fashion industry. She will always remember Mrs. Hilderman at Condit Elementary, a creative teacher who made learning fun, encouraged her, and gave her self-confidence. Her favorite moment from high school was the first day of senior year, when she and her friends dressed up in decorated overalls and had a breakfast party to kick off the school year.
James Kimzey – Horn Elementary, Pershing Middle School, St. Thomas High School
James Kimzey is headed to Loyola University Chicago. He says his history teacher at St. Thomas, Coach Brett Mills, was an amazing teacher because he gave great lessons and inspired students. His dream job is to be a pilot. Though he has many good memories, his favorite high school moments were playing lacrosse at St. Thomas; he’s had so much fun playing with the team.
Catherine Favoriti – St Anne Catholic School, Pershing Middle School, Lamar High School
Catherine Favoriti is headed to The University of Texas at Austin to major in Anthropology. She says that without Mrs. Rebecca Retzloff, her 11th-grade anatomy/physiology teacher, she would not have discovered her passion for anthropology. If she could give her kindergarten self one piece of advice, it would be, “Don’t let anyone stop you from following your dreams. If you want something in life, don’t let anyone else prevent you from pursuing it.” She is looking forward to making lifelong friends, experiencing college life, and pursuing her music career. She hopes to be a singer/songwriter and music performer. Her favorite moment from high school was the day she got accepted into her dream college, UT Austin.
Christian Lewis – Herod Elementary School, St. Thomas’ Episcopal School
Christian Lewis is headed to University of Missouri – Columbia to major in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. He was most influenced by his coach, Mr. Jay Scruggs, who advised him to work hard and do the little things, because that is what leads to success in both sports and life. His dream job is being a professional athletic trainer with the Kansas City Chiefs. His favorite moment from high school was winning the state championship with his soccer team.
Hagar Cohen – Herod Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Carnegie Vanguard High School
Hagar Cohen is headed to Southwestern University with a major in English. She’d tell her kindergarten self, “being kind and empathetic almost always outweighs being right or successful.” She is looking forward to meeting new people with similar interests and becoming a part of a tight-knit and accepting community. She’ll always remember her fifth-grade math teacher, Ms. Pamela Hinsey, who fostered her love for reading books. Ms. Hinsey recommended many books that were impactful in her life, and always made time to sit and teach her the material in a way that made sense. Her dream job is to be a speech language pathologist.
Morgan Hsieh – Parker Elementary, Meyerland Middle School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
Morgan Hsieh is off to The University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Public Relations. She would tell her kindergarten self, “nap now or regret later.” She is looking forward to growing into who she is, and continuing to find her voice in the communities she is in. Mrs. Beth Benne Lopez from Parker Elementary taught her violin from first through fifth grade, and showed her the joy of music. Morgan says, “with her patience, encouragement, and guidance, I was able to embark on my own journey with violin, which has opened up so many doors.” Her favorite moments from high school were instrumental locker room birthday parties. Her dream job would be as the head of PR at a leading music corporation.
Emily Goldstein – Westbury Christian School
Emily Goldstein will be continuing her academic and volleyball career at Wellesley College, with a major in Neuroscience. She’d tell her kindergarten self to continue doing what makes her happy and to love herself for who she is, regardless of what others think. Starting her freshman year, Spanish teacher Ms. Malaika Lund took Emily under her wing. Emily says, “I wouldn't be who and where I am today without her!” Emily’s dream job is to be a neurologist, so she can research Multiple Sclerosis and assist those suffering from other neurological disorders. Her favorite moment of high school was the closing night of Westbury Christian’s production of Aladdin Jr. Following a school tradition, the cast came together to sing the hymn "God is Love." She learned this song in fifth grade by singing with the upperclassmen in her first upper school musical, so it was a full-circle moment for her to teach it to the younger students.
Hannah Groogan – St. Thomas More Parish School, Westbury Christian School
Hannah Groogan is headed to the University of Houston to major in Sports Administration. She’d tell her kindergarten self, “Don't set yourself up for failure by limiting yourself just because of the possibility of not being able to do something well.” Her dream job is to be a real estate agent. Her favorite memory of her high school years was their senior retreat, and says it is a trip she will never forget. She had two highly impactful teachers: her kindergarten reading teacher Mrs. Shellie Abrameit, who helped instill her love of reading, and her second-grade teacher Mrs. Debbie Strausser, who patiently helped her improve reading comprehension.
Corah Blair – Westwood Elementary, Friendswood Junior High, Friendswood High School
Corah Blair is headed to Texas A&M University College Station to major in Allied Health. If she could give her kindergarten self one piece of advice, it would be, “Work hard, play hard! Embrace being different. Enjoy the journey!” She says that being one of the only Jewish students in her school community was challenging at times, but it shaped her into the confident person she is today. Her favorite teacher of all time was Mr. Matthew Gammons, who taught music class at Westwood Elementary. Her dream job is helping people and animals. She is planning to continue her education in veterinary or nursing school. As the youngest of three sisters, Corah has had to be patient and wait her turn – now it’s finally her time to fly!
Mateo Hernandez-Ortiz – West University Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Bellaire High School
Mateo Hernandez-Ortiz is headed to The University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Plan II Honors and Health and Society, on the Pre-Med track. He appreciates his sophomore AP World History teacher Mr. Justin Cothran, who always went the extra mile with his students during the Covid-19 pandemic. His favorite part of high school was when, as president of the BHS Medical Club, he was able to establish a shadowing program with the Houston Methodist Hospital System. It involved participating in clinical consultations, patient interactions, and surgeries using state-of-the-art technology. His dream job is being the head of a hospital.
Katelyn Thompson – Wesley Academy, Westbury Christian School
Katelyn Thompson is heading to Howard University to major in Political Science, on the Pre-Law track. She’d tell her kindergarten self to make the best out of every situation that life throws at you. A teacher who changed her life is Mrs. Elizabeth Shipsey, her choir director from seventh to ninth grade. Katelyn says Mrs. Shipsey always prioritized the mental health of her students, but ensured that they were performing at their best. Katelyn dreams of becoming an entertainment or corporate lawyer and owning her own practice. She is excited to explore Washington D.C. and meet new people.
Carter McKenna – Condit Elementary School, Lanier Middle School, Strake Jesuit
Carter McKenna is headed off to University of Notre Dame to major in Finance. He is looking forward to meeting people who will be his lifelong friends, and feels that he picked a college that will do a great job of helping him build these friendships and communities. His dream job is anything financial/economics related. The teacher who changed his life is Steven Mossbarger, his freshman year AP World History teacher. His tests were hard, and Carter says that while he initially struggled, it taught him how to properly study and take school seriously. Carter would tell his kindergarten self that the ability to work hard and embrace it is the most important skill to have while growing up; and that while a lot of what happens in school is boring and difficult, it pays off if you have fully invested yourself into it.
Nicole Hampton – West University Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, The Emery/Weiner School
Nicole Hampton is heading to Northwestern University to take part in their Mathematical Methods for the Social Sciences program. She would tell her kindergarten self: don’t be afraid. She explains, “I spent a lot of my childhood being scared of trying new things, meeting new people, and pretty much anything including the word ‘new.’ All this did was limit me.” As she got older, she realized that she became happier and more successful when she learned to deal with that fear. One of the teachers who changed her life was her third-grade teacher Mrs. Alyce McLamb at WUES – “Even when I was a young kid who dreaded school, she was the first one to instill a love of learning, making anything from calculation to memorization fun.” One of her favorite memories was the visual art show at the end of the year. Nicole wants to continue helping and working with nonprofits regardless of her career path.
Natalie Hampton – West University Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
Natalie Hampton is headed to Stanford University. She is looking forward to the freedom to explore more interests and take a range of classes as she decides her major. She would tell her kindergarten self to enjoy nap time while it lasts. She says that Kerri Coffman Fujiwara, her seventh-grade science teacher at Pin Oak, taught her the value of hard work and the value of intellectual curiosity – without learning those values, she wouldn't be where she is today. Her dream job is to be a novelist. Her favorite moment from high school was returning to school after being online for a year. Coming back to an actual classroom with her friends made her realize how much she enjoyed learning and being surrounded by her peers.
Isabella Hu – River Oaks Elementary School, Lanier Middle School, Lamar High School
Isabella Hu is headed to The University of Texas at Austin to study Biology on the Pre-Medical Track. Her 11th-grade biology teacher, Ms. Katie Watson at Lamar High School, truly opened her eyes to the excitement of biology, and helped her solidify her aspirations to study science in college. Her dream job is being a pediatrician; “it combines my love of science with my passion for service towards children.” Her favorite high school memory was this year’s Lamar versus Bellaire football game.
Presley Houck – Mark Twain Elementary School, Pershing Middle School, St. Agnes Academy
Presley Houck is headed to Tulane University to major in Anthropology on the track for Pre-Medical Studies. Presley would tell her kindergarten self to invest her birthday money in Netflix. She is looking forward to exploring a new city, new experiences, new friends, and hosting her lifelong friends in NOLA when they visit. She says her fifth-grade teacher at Mark Twain, Ms. Jennifer Dennis, gave her class the gift of teaching to their strengths, and going outside of the normal curriculum when they were ready for more. She is also grateful to her English teacher Tim Nesser at St. Agnes, who helped her to realize she loved English as much as science and math. Her dream job is to be a neurosurgeon. She has so many favorite moments from high school, but says, really, “every moment spent with my friends and supporting each other at sports/dance/music/art etc. events and cheering each other on.”
Kennedy Webb – Travis Elementary School, Pershing Middle School, Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
Kennedy Webb is headed to West Virginia University for a BFA in Theatre Design and BA in Game Design and Interactive Media. If she could give her kindergarten self one piece of advice, it would be, “Don't keep looking at the older kids and what they can do, enjoy the stage you are in.” One day in kindergarten at Travis Elementary, her teacher Ms. Melanie Nelson stopped the class to let them observe a butterfly on the windowsill. Kennedy says, “in that moment, she taught us that learning is not about tests and quizzes.” It also began Kennedy’s obsession with butterflies. She says that since students have so much stress in their lives, she would one day like to specialize in creating games that support positive mental health as a freelance video game creator. She can’t pick one favorite moment from high school, but says “The experience of coming together to create theatre shows is unexplainable.”
Jones Mays II – Challenger Elementary, Sablatura Middle School, Carnegie Vanguard High School
Jones Mays is headed to the University of Southern California with a Merit Trustee Scholarship to study Arts, Technology, and the Business of Innovation at the Iovine Young Academy. He says that Ms. Julea Brode at Carnegie changed his life by making learning math easy and fun. He looks forward to taking surfing classes on the California coast, and meeting new people who will push him to reach his future career goals. If he could give his kindergarten self one piece of advice, he would say not to worry about life so much, since everything works out in the end. Meeting peers that challenged him to be a better person both intellectually and socially was the highlight of his high school career. Jones aspires to be an entrepreneur or software architect who works on platforms that connect communities and solve pressing problems.
Oluwafeyitamilore (Tammy) Banjo – The American International School of Abuja (Abuja, NG), TASIS England (Thorpe, GB), The Village School
Oluwafeyitamilore (Tammy) Banjo is headed to Northeastern University with a combined major in Health Studies and Business Administration. She is grateful to her third-grade teacher, Ms. Catherine Harstad, for introducing her to musical theater at the American International School of Abuja. Ms. Harstad selected Tammy to be a part of the Alice in Wonderland production, which led to her love of music and musical theater, things she still enjoys. If she could give her kindergarten self a piece of advice, she’d say to always celebrate your accomplishments, even the smallest things. She hopes to be an orthodontist one day. Since she grew up in the UK, she is really looking forward to living there again when she studies abroad in London!
Leon Hoang – The Post Oak School
Leon Hoang is headed to Tulane University to major in English and Finance. Leon says he was “a very mischievous kindergartener” and recalls when families gathered to help the class garden outside. They spent hours planting trees and flowers. The next day, he convinced his classmates to uproot and clear the plants for more playing space outside. When the teacher found out, he was forced to replant the whole garden. His advice to his past self would be to embrace and learn from these mistakes – and not to repeat them. He says he is forever grateful for his fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Maya Pinto, who changed his outlook on life. She told him he had talent and shouldn’t waste it – he sees now that she was right. Leon says he is looking forward to the freedom of being a young adult away from his loved ones and parents; “although I will miss them all, I want to see who I can be as an independent person in this new world.”
Lou Hughes – Bonnie Holland Elementary, Beckendorff Junior High School, Second Baptist School
Lou Hughes is going to study Mechanical Engineering at Southern Arkansas University. His dream job is to be an architect. His favorite moment from high school was his senior retreat, and he says he will always cherish the special bonding with his classmates before they started senior year together. One teacher who impacted him was Ms. Gretchen Hollier, his fifth-grade teacher. In fifth grade, he was making As in all his classes except English. She told him she knew she could do better in his class, and spent time before and after school until he was acing English. That year, Lou went on to win the President’s Award, signed by President Obama. He’d tell his kindergarten self, “Don’t be shy to meet new people. The people you don’t meet could end up being someone you need in your life.”
Carlin Elizabeth McQueen – St. Mary's Catholic School, Meyerland Performing and Visual Arts Middle School, Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
Carlin Elizabeth McQueen is off to Loyola Marymount University to major in Dance and Computer Science. She is looking forward to being able to dance throughout the city of Los Angeles, and she is excited to show the city what she has to offer. She would tell her kindergarten self, “Continue to trust and believe in yourself. Everything happens for a reason.” Her dream job is to dance commercially for artists throughout the world. Once she feels her dance career has come to an end, she would like to find a way to combine dance and computer science to bring more attention towards the arts. A teacher that changed her life is Mrs. Leah Cessna, who believed in her at times she felt that she was crashing. Her favorite moment from high school was fall and spring dance showcases, where she says everyone uplifted and supported each other; “It's really exciting to showcase your talent to the ones that you love most.”
Steven Scholz – Bunker Hill Elementary, Memorial Middle School, Memorial High School
Steven Scholz is headed to Concordia Texas University to study Business and Finance. He is looking forward to playing for Concordia. If he could give advice to his kindergarten self it would be, “forgive yourself often for the mistakes you make. Learning from them is most important.” The teacher that changed his life was his 11th-grade English teacher Ms. Lauren Shelley. He says she pushed him to become a better writer, and he has never enjoyed literature more than being in her class. His dream job would be owning and running a world-class tennis facility.
Anna Rigo – Meadow Wood Elementary School, Cornerstone Academy, Stratford High School
Anna Rigo is headed to Northwestern University to study Musical Theatre. She’d tell her kindergarten self, “Follow what you love! Work hard in all that you do, and be a person who encourages yourself and others as you do things you're passionate about.” She is most looking forward to the opportunity to study theatre: “getting to combine my love of learning with my passion for musical theatre to make me a more well-rounded and better person and performer.” Her favorite teacher was Ms. CeCe Prudhomme, Stratford’s theatre director. Her favorite high school moment was flying for the last time during Peter Pan.
Asher Rigo – Meadow Wood Elementary School, Cornerstone Academy, Stratford High School
Asher Rigo is heading to The University of Texas at Austin to study Radio, Television and Film. He would tell his kindergarten self, “When a girl stabs you with a pencil, do not stab her back. No one will believe you and you will get in much more trouble.” He says the teacher who most impacted him has been his theater teacher/director Ms. Alyssa Davidson – “she’s been like a parent, a teacher, a role model, a director, and a friend.” His favorite moments from high school were performing in the Playhouse shows, particularly his senior year.
Hank Davis – Frostwood Elementary School, Memorial Middle School, Stratford High School
Hank Davis is headed to The University of Texas at Austin, to take part in the Canfield Business Honors Program at the McCombs School of Business. He’s looking forward to fulfilling his lifelong dream of being a Longhorn. He would tell his kindergarten self: know that your actual name is Henry, not Hank. Hank says that during Covid-19, his statistics teacher Mr. Karl Poetzl was always there to help, and gave him hope that he could make it in the business world. His favorite moment from high school was going to Business Professionals of America (BPA) State, and his dream job is working in private equity.
Emily Manuel – Rummel Creek Elementary School, Memorial Middle School, Stratford High School
Emily Manuel is going to Vanderbilt University to study Chemical Engineering. She wants to work in the engineering field so she can improve the community around her, and society as a whole. Her 12th-grade BC Calculus teacher Mr. Christian Marquez changed her life by motivating her to pursue engineering and make a difference in the world. Her favorite part of high school was playing lacrosse for Stratford Girls Lacrosse Club, and meeting the best teammates and coaches through the program.
Josh Collins – Second Baptist School
Josh Collins is going to Texas A&M for their Business Honors program. If he could give his kindergarten self one piece of advice, it would be: don't be afraid of being yourself; love where you are at in life while always trying to grow. He is looking forward to the freedom, community, and independence associated with college. Mr. Jacob Lindsey, his English teacher and Model UN sponsor, had the most impact on him. He inspired a passion for learning and making a difference in the community. He was always passionate about everything he talked about and was involved in. Josh’s dream job would be to be the president of the United States, and his favorite moment from high school was being the stage manager senior year for Guys & Dolls.
Andrew Maughon – St. Brigid Catholic School, The Village School
Andrew Maughon is headed to Rice University to major in Chemistry. Dr. Margaret Hennessy, who taught him two years of IB Chemistry Higher Level, was the individual who awakened his love for chemistry. Without her, he says, he likely would be pursuing a different major in college. His dream job is working in a lab to figure out processes and mechanisms to make new molecules, or better ways to make old ones. He sees himself working in pharmaceuticals, doing things like researching new cancer treating drugs. Andrew would tell his kindergarten self to take advantage of nap time. He’s looking forward to living on his own for a while. Although he will still live in Houston, he will appreciate the autonomy of college dorm life. His favorite memory from high school was his senior trip to Disney World in Orlando; “Screaming in terror and excitement with my friends on rollercoasters were some of the best times of my life.”
Andrew Ferworn – Meadow Wood Elementary, Spring Forest Middle School, Stratford High School
Andrew Ferworn is off to study Engineering and play golf at the University of North Alabama. If he could give his kindergarten self one piece of advice, it would be: “invest in bitcoin.” Andrew is most looking forward to playing golf at a Division 1 college, along with the practical application of math and science into engineering skills. One teacher that stands out to him is his Business teacher and golf coach Mark Mathe, who “offers respect and trust [to his students and golfers], and receives it in return.” He dreams of playing professional golf, and his favorite moment from high school was qualifying and playing in the Texas 6A State Golf Tournament as an individual.
Matthew Morley – Wilchester Elementary School, Spring Branch Academic Institute, Stratford High School
Matthew Morley is off to Louisiana State University with a major in Biochemistry. Matthew is glad that his sixth-grade orchestra teacher, Mr. Kareem Goode, encouraged him to change from Violin to Viola. His influence instilled a lifelong love of music in him. He will always be grateful to him for his guidance. His dream job is to work as an anesthesiologist, and he’d tell his kindergarten self to enjoy the lack of homework in elementary school.
Andrew Wuensch – Grace School, Second Baptist School
Andrew Wuensch is going to Baylor University to major in Business Marketing. He’d tell his kindergarten self to continue to work hard, and that you can do anything you put your mind to. His most impactful teacher was Mr. Arthur Babcock, who taught him Anatomy & Physiology and Biology. He showed him the benefits of a strong work ethic and aided his spiritual growth. He hopes to one day have a job in business marketing that will allow him to use what he has learned in Anatomy & Physiology. He says special moments in high school were frequent, as he and his friends spent many late nights around a fire pit talking through their ups and downs.
Joshua Chin – Bunker Hill Elementary, Westchester Middle School, First Baptist Academy, Houston Christian High School
Joshua Chin is headed to The College of William and Mary to study Political Science and Psychology. The most influential teacher he has had was Ms. Jenna LaFlamme, his sophomore English teacher. He says, “She taught me to love writing and how to care about people for where they are; taking time to understand someone as a person.” He would tell his kindergarten self, “Be yourself, and don't forget you are so loved and special!” His favorite moment from high school was getting to spend little moments with his favorite people, and making memories that he can take to college.
James Lowell Moss – Rummel Creek Elementary School, Valley Oaks Elementary School, Spring Forest Middle School, Stratford High School
James Lowell Moss is going to The University of Texas at Austin to major in Mechanical Engineering. If he could give his kindergarten self a piece of advice, it would be, “focus on the things you care about, because the time is now to do the things you want to do.” He says that his pre-K teacher, Mrs. Horstmann at Wildcat Way School, guided him to the right path when he was a small child (and she let him stay up during nap time). He would love to be a sports broadcaster on a show like Inside the NBA. James says he can’t pick a favorite high school moment, but the 6A State Swim Meet in Austin his senior year was amazing – “it was really nice to see all the early mornings and hard work pay off. It was also exciting to finally realize the goal of making it to State after falling just short my junior year.”
IV Elam – Cedar Brook Elementary School, The Briarwood School, St. Pius X High School
IV Elam is headed to Louisiana State University to study Architecture. As a senior who has had three knee surgeries due to football, he would tell his kindergarten self: maybe don’t play football. One of his favorite teachers was science teacher Mr. Ed Finger at Briarwood; he says Mr. Finger treated his students with respect and had a way of teaching that made learning fun. His favorite part of high school was playing lacrosse, and he hopes to be an architect.
Olivia Covey – St. Michael Catholic School, St. Agnes Academy, Memorial High School
Olivia Covey is going to the University of Mississippi to major in Biochemistry. She is looking forward to meeting tons of new people in college. Her favorite teacher was her freshman year Spanish teacher Ms. Marcia Clark at St. Agnes. Olivia says she was so fun and always believed in her, and that she was the reason she began to enjoy learning and homework. If she could give her kindergarten self a piece of advice, it would be, “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.” Her dream job would be being an anesthesiologist.
Emerson Covey – St. Michael Catholic School, Memorial High School
Emerson Covey is off to University of Mississippi to major in Business. She would tell her kindergarten self to enjoy every year, because it goes by so quickly. Ms. Jenna Rosen, her senior-year psychology teacher, was her favorite teacher. She’s looking forward to college football games and meeting new people from all over the country at Ole Miss. Her dream job would be working as a neonatal nurse.
Preston Igo – Briargrove Elementary School, Second Baptist School
Preston Igo is headed to Texas Christian University to study Business Finance/Real Estate. His dream job is to do real estate development on a large scale. He would tell his kindergarten self to never be afraid to make new friends. His favorite moments from high school were Saturday nights hanging with the guys. A teacher who changed his life was Mr. Geoffrey Brooks, his AP Physics Teacher senior year. Mr. Brooks made him think more deeply, and become much more curious, about everything.
Austin Little – West University Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, St. John’s School
Austin Little is going to Tulane University for Business. He’d tell his kindergarten self, “Stay true to who you are.” He says that Mr. Erol Turk, his junior year physics teacher, exemplified what it means to be optimistic and persevere through adversity. “Aside from being a wonderful teacher, he served as a role model to me and my peers each and every day. His good humor and amiability were contagious, and he touched the lives of everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him.” His dream job would be working as general manager of an MLB organization, and his favorite part of high school was the spring break baseball trips to Florida.
Anna Thielemann – Wilchester Elementary School, Memorial Middle School, Stratford High School
Anna Thielemann is going to The University of Texas at Austin to major in Communications. She loves to sing and song write, so she is excited to explore Austin's music scene. She’d tell her kindergarten self to not let fear stop you from pursuing your passions. Anna says Stratford’s Student Council Sponsor, Mrs. Mary Jackson, remained patient and kind with her through successes and mistakes, and that “her love and passion for Stratford is evident in her storytelling, steel trap memory, and 43-year streak of teaching at Stratford. She has shaped me, and many others, into the leader I am today.” Ultimately, Anna hopes to find something she is passionate about and obtain her master's. Her favorite moment from high school was a neck-and-neck tennis match her freshman year. She ended up winning and her teammates ran up and gave her a big group hug, making her feel accepted and supported as a freshman. She aimed to help continue this tradition throughout high school.
John Bratten – St. Francis Episcopal School
John Bratten is headed to Trinity University for Business. If he could give his kindergarten self one piece of advice, it would be “embrace the learning process.” His dream job would be to be an economist. The most influential teacher he ever had was Mrs. Courtney Zauft in third grade. He says he admired how kind she was to her students. He says he was a “young delinquent” at school, but couldn't understand how he got disciplined by the nicest teacher he’d ever had. He cleaned up his act and maintained straight As for seven years, until the pandemic hit. His favorite moment from high school was their school’s first performance of Beauty and the Beast, for children from Yellowstone Academy. He played the role of the Beast, and says all of the hard work the Upper School put into the production was worth it when they were able to show the kids the magic of the musical.
Regina Blenda Ayala – The Village School
Regina Blenda Ayala is headed to Columbia University to study Political Science. Her dream job would be to be an ambassador. She would tell her kindergarten self, “Always have confidence, it will be your greatest ally.” Her eighth-grade history teacher Ms. Kristy Edgar changed her life because she was one of the first teachers who genuinely believed in her and pushed her in class. Ms. Edgar always encouraged her to go the extra mile. Regina’s favorite moment from high school was “hands down” the NHSMUN conference (Model UN) in NYC; she says she loved the friendships, the memories, and the experience. She is looking forward to exploring New York City and finding her place in the world, and says that she can't wait to grow and travel.
Evie Vu – St. John’s School
Evie Vu is off to Rice University for Business. If she could give her kindergarten self one piece of advice, it would be: try to find joy in everything you do. The teacher who changed her life was her kindergarten teacher Donna Palmer: “Ms. Palmer taught me many things – poetry, algebra, and kindness – and I will always remember her for it.” Evie’s dream job is being a CEO. Her favorite moment from high school was her senior skip day when she and her friends went to Galveston.
Paulina Rincon – The Village School
Paulina Rincon is headed to Boston College to major in Psychology. Her dream job is to be a clinical psychologist. The teacher who changed her life was Mrs. Selene Bautista. In her ninth-grade Intro to Photography class, she picked up the sketchbook that Paulina was doodling in. She shared it with the other art teachers and encouraged Paulina to think about taking IB Art classes. Two years later, she taught Paulina IB Art and helped develop her as an artist. If she could give her kindergarten self one piece of advice, she would say, “Don't wish to grow up, enjoy being little before it's too late.” Her favorite high school memory was her 2023 spring break trip to Mexico with friends.
Caroline Martinez – Second Baptist School
Caroline Martinez is headed to Texas A&M to study Biomedical Science. She is looking forward to the Aggie culture, being around like-minded people who share similar aspirations, and being able to venture from a small campus size to a larger environment. Her dream job is to be a dermatologist. The most influential teacher she had was Mrs. Caroline Knapp, who taught her sixth-grade Bible class. Her favorite moment from high school was watching the Varsity baseball team take home the State Championship title. She also enjoyed cheering on the sidelines with her fellow Varsity cheerleaders Junior year and making it to the State Championship game. She would tell her kindergarten self: “Have confidence in everything you do, be adventurous and get involved in everything you can!”
Samuel Ireland – Second Baptist School
Samuel Ireland is heading to the Colorado School of Mines for Engineering. His favorite moment was being on the stage for Guys and Dolls his senior year. His most memorable teacher was Mrs. Cindy Blades, his theater teacher during all four years of high school, who has given him a lot of advice and influenced who he is today. He would tell his kindergarten self to make the most of every opportunity, and put your time into things you want to do.
Pumipat Chetpaophan – Kowit Thamrong School (Chiang Mai, TH), Hatyaiwittayalai School (Hat Yai, TH), The Village School
Pumipat Chetpaophan is off to the University of Washington at Seattle to major in Biochemistry. He hopes to one day become a doctor so he can help people and invent things to improve people’s health. He says that as a person who grew up in a third-world country, it was hard for him to see people that he knew pass away from cancer. He hopes to be able to prevent that in the future, which is why he wants to be an oncologist. He says his grade-level leader in the dorm influenced and helped him the most by always pushing him to dream big, and always being by his side when he needed him.
Caroline Marshall – Second Baptist School
Caroline Marshall is going to Baylor University to major in Health Science Studies. Her dream job is to become an OBGYN. If she could give her kindergarten self one piece of advice, she would tell her to take a deep breath, take one day at a time, and cherish the moments that life brings. Caroline says that Ms. Angela King, who taught her history, economics, and AP government, changed her life by teaching her that it was okay to learn in a different way than her classmates, and by pushing her to be a better student and all-around person. Her favorite high school memory was the last football game, which she says “was such a bittersweet moment, but also the start of a new season of life.”
Max Scholl – The Village School
Max Scholl is heading to Rice University to major in English. Max is looking forward to studying more niche topics of interest at Rice – things he has been interested in but never had the opportunity or time to properly study. He remembers his second-grade teacher, Mrs. Keitha Burton, always taught her students to be curious and never stop asking questions, which forever changed how he views the world. He would tell his kindergarten self to always trust your gut, and follow what makes you feel satisfied with your life. His dream job is to become a film director or screenwriter, and reveal deeper truths about life and human experiences.
Meghna Prabhakaran – The Village School
Meghna Prabhakaran is on the Pre-Medical Track at The University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Public Health. Her dream job is to be a pediatrician. As a freshman, she struggled heavily with Computer Science, but her teacher Mr. Mansoor Ansari taught her the importance of resilience and determination. He pushed her to overcome obstacles, and with his devoted support she started to perform above and beyond. Now she has decided to minor in Computer Science. Meghna says the lessons he taught her, not just about Computer Science, but about life, are ones she will carry with her the rest of her life. As she steps forward into college life, she is excited to meet new people and make life-long friendships. If she could give her kindergarten self one piece of advice, it would be, “Always be kind to others, and most importantly, always be kind to yourself.”
Quinn Belmar – Dolphin School (Berkshire, England); Canadian International School in Singapore, The Village School
Quinn Belmar is heading to Texas A&M to study Mechanical Engineering. His dream job is to be the owner of a tech business. He’ll always remember Alison Trembley, his fifth-grade teacher at the Canadian International School in Singapore. She encouraged him to get out of his comfort zone and perform on stage. If he could give his kindergarten self one piece of advice, it would be, “Don't limit yourself.” Quinn’s favorite moment from high school was swimming with his relay team at State.
Harrison Watts – Travis Elementary School, St. Thomas’ Episcopal School, St. Thomas High School
Harrison Watts is headed to Loyola University Chicago to study Sports Business/Management. If he could give his kindergarten self one piece of advice, it would be, “Just have fun, don’t worry about the future yet, because it’s coming up real soon.” Harrison says that his theology teacher at St. Thomas, Mr. Danny Hernandez, is the best teacher he has ever had, and has opened his eyes to so many new ways to help people by being a servant to all. His dream job is working in the front office of the Chicago Bears. His favorite moment from high school was going to Los Angeles on a mission trip in order to serve the less fortunate and learn more about how to help the community here in Houston.
Vaughn Sternberg – River Oaks Elementary School, Lanier Middle School, Lamar High School
Vaughn Sternberg is headed to Southern Methodist University to study Finance at the Cox School of Business. She’d tell her kindergarten self: always stay true to yourself and you can achieve anything. The teacher who changed her life was her kindergarten teacher, Mr. William Ponder at River Oaks Elementary. He was always uplifting and made her love school. Her dream job would be working in real estate development, and her favorite moment from high school was helping host a Thanksgiving food drive with Lamar Student Council.
Jaslin Martinez – J.W Oates Elementary, Holland Middle School, Lamar High School
Jaslin Martinez is off to Baylor University to major in Biology on the Pre-Med track. Her dream job is to become a Cardiothoracic Surgeon, so she can help people and make sure that they live their healthiest lives. She’d tell her kindergarten self, “Hard work pays off. Work hard for what you want and never give up no matter how many hardships come your way.” One teacher that changed her life was Breana Chatman, her 8th-grade Math teacher. She pushed Jaslin as a student and reminded her once you got to high school it was a clean slate, and that there will be hardships in the road, but you have to fight to accomplish your goals. After working hard throughout high school, that hard work paid off and she got a merit scholarship to Baylor, her dream school.
Claudia Moiset Planas – Mártires de Angola (CU), Reemberto Abad Alemán Primary School (Guayos, CU), Lamar High School
Claudia Moiset Planas is going to DePauw University to major in International Studies. A teacher that changed her life was Mr. Raul Rivera Colon, who was her sophomore World History teacher when the pandemic started. She says his warm and calm way of teaching despite the situation made it even easier for the class to engage, participate, and enjoy their time learning together. Her dream job is to become an international dermatologist/doctor. She wants to be able to identify skin problems and offer people the best options to cure them internationally. Her favorite part of high school was her senior year, especially the Lamar tradition “Senior Sunrise.”
Kayla Pearl – King David Primary School Sandton (ZA), Lanier Middle School, Lamar High School
Kayla Pearl is going to The University of Texas at Austin to major in Political Science. If she could talk to her kindergarten self, she would say, “being happy with myself and with my life is more important than being perfect, getting the best grades or having the largest social circle. I would tell my younger self to find what she is passionate about and to pursue it proudly.” Her 11th-grade language and literature teacher, Dr. Usha Gurumurthy, changed her life by reigniting her passion for literature, and having faith in her throughout her high school journey. Her favorite moment from high school was publishing her first issue as Editor-in-Chief of the Lamar Life Magazine. Her dream job is to be a human rights lawyer, traveling around the country and world to help those who cannot defend themselves in the face of adversity or hardship.
Max Kerkvliet – American School of Doha, The Village School
Max Kerkvliet is headed to the University of Connecticut to major in Business and play on the UConn soccer team. His ideal career is being a professional soccer player. He would tell his kindergarten self that everything happens for a reason. His life was influenced by his coach, Scoop Stanisic, who coached him in soccer his 11th-grade year. He says, “Coach Scoop taught me that nothing is going to come to me easy, the only way to get what I want is to work hard.” His favorite moment from high school was winning a state soccer championship with his team in 11th grade.
Andy Walsh – The Post Oak School
Andy Walsh is headed to The University of Oklahoma to major in Business/Finance. As a kid, Andy spent a lot of time watching Rescue Heroes and CHiPs with his dad, and would beg his mom to follow the flashing lights of fire trucks. Years later, he still admires first responders and serves alongside them in his role as a volunteer Firefighter/EMT at Southside Place Fire Department. He would tell his younger self that "Fire trucks are every bit as cool as you think they are" and to follow those flashing lights! He is grateful for his middle school advisor Jenna Pel; he says that she was different from him in nearly every way, but taught him so much about managing his time, communicating well with others, and being a strong leader. His favorite high school memory was when he was given permission to take one month off school to pursue his Wilderness First Responder and EMT certification in Lander, Wyoming with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). He looks forward to finding a career that will help him be of service to his community.
Lauren Carlisle – West University Elementary School, Lanier Middle School, Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions
Lauren Carlisle is headed to Texas A&M University for Business Honors on the Pre-Med track. If she could give her kindergarten self one piece of advice, she’d say, “Confidence will help you succeed. Trust yourself, and if you make a mistake, realize that the Earth will continue to spin!” Her AP Calculus AB and BC teacher at DeBakey, Mrs. Goretti Nguyen, has supported her throughout her last and hardest two years of high school. Aside from helping Lauren realize her passion for math, she always made her laugh. Lauren says Mrs. Nguyen framed the most daunting concepts in a way that was easy to understand, and that she helped her to believe in herself and persist in all classes. Her favorite moment from high school was the relief she felt after finally completing her AP exams, which were the culmination of an entire year's work.
Jack DeGregori – West University Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, St. Thomas High School
Jack DeGregori is off to UT Dallas to major in Computer Science & Emerging Technologies. He’d tell his kindergarten self, “Be a duck – let it all just roll off your back. You're going to be just fine.” The teacher he remembers most is Mr. Redstone, his eighth-grade Algebra teacher at Pin Oak, who was always kind and often checked to make sure he was doing alright. His dream job is to be a game developer.
Seth Vincent Levy – St. Vincent De Paul Catholic School, St. Thomas More Parish School, St. Thomas High School
Seth Vincent Levy is headed to The University of Alabama to major in Biology. He is looking forward to working hard in college and achieving his goal to become a gastroenterologist. He would advise his kindergarten self: believe in yourself because you are your only roadblock. His favorite moment from high school was going to Track Semifinals his junior year. Seth says that his eighth-grade English teacher, Patricia Jackson, helped him build his self-esteem as a student after he transferred to St. Thomas More. She was always positive, told him he would go far, and encouraged him to never give up.
Diego Sanchez – St. Ambrose Catholic School, St. Thomas High School
Diego Sanchez is going to Louisiana State University to study Engineering. If he could give his kindergarten self one piece of advice, it would be “Stay focused, have fun and do your work on time.” In the next chapter of his life, he is looking forward to putting his best efforts towards his career. He says that Mr. Richard Velez, his math teacher at St. Ambrose, positively impacted his life by being very encouraging and supportive. His dream job would be working as a mechanical engineer for an aerospace, robotic or manufacturing company.
Evan De Anda – St. Helen Catholic School, St. Thomas High School
Evan De Anda is going to Texas A&M University to study Mechanical Engineering. He’s looking forward to creating whole new memories in college, and writing music about all of them. He’d tell his kindergarten self that every single person has inherent worth and dignity, including yourself. His dream job is to be an audio engineer. He is thankful for Mr. Dan Green’s theater program, which allowed him to develop a deeper love for the arts, specifically acting and music. Evan says he will be forever grateful for Mr. Green’s positive influence and great music taste. His favorite moment from high school was playing Jean Valjean in St. Thomas' production of Les Misérables during his senior year.
Meggi Seitz – Ascension Episcopal School, St. Thomas’ Episcopal School
Meggi Seitz is off to The University of Edinburgh to get her MA in International Relations and International Law. If she could give her kindergarten self one piece of advice, it would be, “Don’t give up on what you love! When you figure out what you’re passionate about, you’ll be able to set yourself on the right path.” She is most looking forward to living in Scotland. Her Chinese teacher, Mrs. Sun 孙老师 taught her that hard work really does pay off, and that stepping out of her comfort zone will allow her to accomplish great things. Her dream job is to be a UN ambassador in China. As she moves abroad, she will treasure the memory of when she and her brother surprised their mom by dancing a special dance together at STE’s Sounds of Scotland performance.
Kameron O. Allen – Magnolia Elementary, The Gifted & Talented Academy at Sablatura Middle School, St. Thomas’ Episcopal School
Kameron O. Allen is off to Louisiana State University to major in Chemical Engineering. Ms. Lauren Boland at Magnolia Elementary in Pearland was one of the teachers that made a huge difference in his life. She inspired his love for reading and made classroom time the highlight of the day all year. He’ll never forget her bubbly and fun personality, and greatly appreciates her. He would tell his kindergarten self to enjoy and appreciate your school years, because they will be over before you know it. His favorite high school memory was making it to the State Championship this year in basketball.
Leonardo Ivan Medina Falcon – Instituto Anglo Mexicano, Instituto Cultural Tampico, The Village School
Leonardo Ivan Medina Falcon is headed abroad, to IE University in Madrid, where he will be studying Business Administration and International Relations. He would tell his kindergarten self, “Trust yourself, be confident about every single step forward; I have seen what you have become and the process you have endured.” Ms. Patricia Elliston in 11th grade taught him the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and sparked the entrepreneur inside of him. She showed Leonardo how to understand his passion, and what he had to do to achieve who he wanted to be. He would like to influence a change in his surroundings, such as opening an international nongovernmental organization to make an impact in his home country. His dream job is to offer opportunities for others to have their dream jobs. He looks forward to making his mark on the world.
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