2023 Graduates & Their Stories

They were asked the following questions and to respond in order:
1) What are your future plans after high school?
2) What challenges did you overcome since Freshman year?
3) Who was your inspiration throughout high school?

Read their answers.

Andrada Polytechnic High School

Graduate: Dominic Perno, Valedictorian

After high school, I will be attending MIT and studying Artificial Intelligence and Decision Making. After High School, I plan on starting a career doing AI research or video game development.

One of the biggest challenges in high school was COVID, and learning and adapting to new ways of learning and doing things. The other challenges were self-imposed, as I took the most rigorous coursework I could.

My inspiration was Mr. Villard, the Engineering teacher at Andrada High School. He is an amazing teacher who always challenged me to do my best, and his passion for science really inspired me.

Graduate: Emma Rose Wettstein, Salutatorian

After high school, I am going to BYU- Idaho, to earn a bachelor’s in animal science. I will then use that bachelor’s degree to apply to veterinary schools. After I earn my Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine, I hope to start my own traveling veterinary clinic.

During my high school years, I have learned many things. One of the most important things I have learned is how to advocate for myself. Without knowing how to advocate for myself, I would not have been able to get to where I am now.

My inspirations throughout high school were my parents. Without my parents, I would not have done as well in school. My Mom stayed up long nights with me working on projects, and my Dad retaught me almost all of the math that I have learned. Getting to Salutatorian was not just me alone, it was more of a team effort.

Cienega High School

Graduate: Grace Daniel, Valedictorian

My future plans include attending the University of Arizona Honors College to major in the field of engineering. I would like to hopefully study abroad for a semester so that I may have the opportunity to travel, experience new cultures, and try new foods and activities. I hope to obtain a job as an engineer at a company that allows me to collaborate with others in my profession to create new technologies that better the world and the lives of the people in it.

The challenges that I overcame since freshman year included coping during the pandemic; managing my time with school, activities, sports, and work; the passing of my grandmother; the divorce of my parents; and frequent migraines.

Aunt Leslie was my inspiration throughout high school. She has a strong love for God that radiates as kindness, love, and patience to all. She learned Spanish, went back to school to study nursing, and worked for a long time as a nurse caring for children in poverty in California. She now works at a children’s hospital in Phoenix and helps at her church. I would like to help people as she helped me and others

Graduate: Marie Kass, Salutatorian

After High School I plan on attending Texas A&M majoring in nuclear engineering and after getting my bachelors, I’d like to enlist in the US Navy as a Nuclear Engineer.

Since Freshman year I’ve always been working on putting myself out there more and being more social and approachable and just overall more willing to step out of my comfort zone.

I’ve always been inspired by my family like my mother and Grandfather who’ve always worked hard to do everything they possibly can and take the best route to being successful. And I’ll always be inspired by my friends who are so smart and know exactly what they’re doing all the time.

Empire High School

Graduate: Emma LaPointe, Valedictorian

I am attending W.A Franke Honors College at the University of Arizona and planning to
major in Political Science (and hopefully) double major in Journalism. I am planning to either go down the track of becoming a Lawyer, Political Journalist, or some form of Diplomat.

I overcame the common challenge of COVID, which threw off my high school career. I had to learn how to learn online, as I stayed home for almost all of my sophomore year. It was tough to enter my Junior year after feeling like I was a year behind where I was
supposed to be. I struggled to keep up with the AP classes I took during my Junior Year and how to learn in a regular school environment once again. However, I persevered through everything thrown at me, and I still had a successful four years of high school.

My inspiration throughout high school would have to be my parents. They helped me
learn to fight for what I believe in, never to let anyone treat me worse than they should, and to always stand up for myself. Not only did they always push me to be better, but I know how hard they have worked to give me all that I have and to allow me to have a successful life, and that is something I will always be thankful for, and I will always look up to them for.

Graduate: Jane Oslund, Salutatorian

I am going to attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and my planned major is Genetics, Genomics, and Biotechnology. Eventually, I want to work in the medical field as a doctor, researcher, or genetic counselor.

Throughout my life, I have struggled with a fear of failure. During high school, I decided to make myself more comfortable with trying new things, even if I knew that it would be difficult. The effects of this have been hugely significant for me and have been the foundation for some of my most meaningful high school experiences. I’ve grown a lot more comfortable with being challenged during high school, and it’s helped me grow so much.

My inspiration has always been my family. They’ve encouraged me to challenge myself and provided the help that I needed. They motivate me to succeed, but most importantly, they remind me that doing my best is enough.

Pantano High School

Graduate: Joseph Cleary, Valedictorian

Right now I want to work on myself, but I want to go into childcare work in the future.

I was never truly motivated to do any of my work since starting high school. I was only ever motivated after coming to Pantano and meeting my friends.

I didn’t really have any inspiration besides my father. But I was inspired by characters in fiction who wanted to live free and live how they wanted to.

Graduate: Nic Crowson, Salutatorian

I want to go to a technical school to learn coding and auto mechanics.

During my freshman year I was always dreading going to school and getting up in the morning to go. I always hated English and writing but going to Pantano really helped me.

My dad and my brother were both pushing me to continue and keep fighting for that diploma. My dad wanted me to keep trying but in my mind it was difficult. My brother wants the best for me and to see me succeed.

Mica Mountain High School

Graduate: Jodie Christine Osmun, Valedictorian

BYU Idaho, Majoring in Business, Minoring in String Bass Performance. Possibly serving an 18-month mission with my church. Generally, just living and loving life, and learning as much as I can.

I overcame my self-defeating habits and some of my insecurities. Doing so allowed me to throw myself into school and music with energy and vigor, achieving more than I thought I could.

My twin inspired me. Jackie simultaneously helped me along, and pushed me to do more, through her consistent good example.

Graduate: Jacqueline Amy Osmun, Salutatorian

BYU Provo, Majoring in Mechanical Engineering, Minor TBD. Additionally, I will be serving an 18-month mission with my church. I plan on indulging my inner nerd 100%.

What challenges have you overcome since Freshman year?: I overcame the lack of motivation that I felt early in high school and started putting in more effort to be the best student I could be.

It sounds like a cop out, but my twin sister, Jodie, inspired me to care more about other people and to try to understand where they are coming from. Jodie helped me to balance my analytic personality with an increased compassion for others.

Vail Academy and High School

Graduate: Benjamin Patla, Valedictorian

My plans after high school are to study engineering and robotics at Grand Canyon University and get involved in several clubs, from robotics to student leadership.

Throughout high school, I have become more decisive and confident. I have been forced to become a leader and having these traits has prepared me for my future.

One of my key inspirations throughout high school was our robotics mentor. He helped me step out of my comfort zone and showed me what real world work ethic requires.

Graduate: Dominic Saenz, Salutatorian

I’m going to the University of Arizona for my Bachelor’s and then their College of Veterinary Medicine Program and four more years to become a Board-certified Soft Tissue DVM.

I’ve overcome COVID and I’ve dealt with a few issues with friends and family. I was mainly dealing with stress, laziness, and some state of depression.

I was inspired by friends and my family to succeed in high school. My friends helped me finish the school day and my family gave me the goal to succeed.

Special Thanks for Participating and Congratulations to the 2023 Graduates, from Your Friends at The Vail Voice!

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Lucretia Free