New graduates across the state share their post-high-school plans.
Caps are hurled into the sky. Fists rise triumphantly. And a rogue balloon or two will inadvertently escape.
Loved ones pour out of the bleachers and onto the field to greet their Class of 2017 graduate with smiles and hugs.
But what’s next for these young scholars? We spoke with graduates statewide to learn their post-high-school plans and what they’ll be up to this summer.
Saving turtles in Costa Rica
St. Thomas More Academy valedictorian Kyla Lavender will lend a helping hand outside of the country.
“This is my last summer to experience things before I move on to adulthood,” she said.
“I’m going to a destination in Costa Rica where I’m going to be working with baby sea turtles and learning to scuba dive. It’ll be for sea turtle conservation” because “sea turtles are endangered.”
Lavender will attend Texas A&M University this fall majoring in veterinary biomedical sciences. She aspires to become a veterinarian, something Lavender has “wanted to do since I was 6 years old,” she said.
Middletown High School’s Ariana Gaston has been planning to travel abroad since her sophomore year.
With the help of Spanish and theater teacher Michael Husni, Gaston’s dream will be realized July 5-13.
“We planned a trip to Costa Rica and Nicaragua,” said Gaston, who’ll be joining peers from MHS and Appoquinimink High School. “Originally I wanted to travel outside the country because I wanted to do service work. But at my age it’s hard to come by. So we discussed doing an exploratory trip,” she said.
“We’re going to be kayaking, visiting volcanoes and seeing a coffee plantation, zip-lining and experiencing the culture.”
Gaston will major in agricultural education at Colorado State University.
‘Love of my life’
Kylie Boggs, also of MHS, will stay in the First State, double-majoring in linguistics and theater at the University of Delaware.
“Both of those areas are extremely important to me,” Boggs said. “I have an intense love for language. I’ve been doing theater since I was 7. It’s been a love of my life. I would say it’s almost better than a friend.”
Her hope is to land a job as a theoretical linguist - documenting rare or dying languages. Boggs said this isn’t an easy job to obtain. But she said the career field in linguistics is so broad she can do anything from editing literature to being a foreign language translator.
Smyrna High School class president Elana Montejo will work two jobs this summer and then join Boggs at the University of Delaware, studying international relations.
Though Montejo “isn’t exactly sure” how she’ll make a living in this area of study, she knows where her passion lies.
“I want to work in human rights,” said Montejo.
“I think the world needs some good leadership. A lot of people are afraid to advocate for [those in need]. You know, it’s that ‘it’s not affecting me’ syndrome.”
Down to business
Polytech High School’s Mariah Custis has a love for children. She plans to attend Delaware Technical Community College to study childcare.
Custis currently works with preschoolers at Building Blocks Academy in Felton.
“I’m going to work at a daycare for a little bit, like I do now, and still work there during the summer time and see where it takes me,” said Custis. “I want to own my own center.”
Business is also close to Kaylee Collison’s heart. A Lake Forest High School graduate and field hockey player, Collison will major in business management with a concentration in sports at Roanoke College in Virginia.
“I want to eventually work my way into sports management,” she said. “I want to do business to have broad [job options] if sports doesn’t work out.”
Collison will head to college two weeks early to begin training with her new field hockey teammates. Before then, she’ll be working a unique summer gig.
“I have a job cleaning chicken houses,” she said.
Summer work is next for Sussex Central High School’s Allexander Zolocsik. He’ll return to KMart.
As for college plans, Zolocsik will major in computer science at Salisbury University in Maryland.
“After taking the Microsoft engineering course in high school, I became very interested in cyber security,” he said. “Then after I had an account hacked a couple months ago and fraudulent purchases placed with my money by the hackers, I would like to help prevent other consumers from having the same thing happen to them.”
Zolocsik won’t be the only graduate interested in a career in security. Sussex Technical High School’s Collin Quigley is headed to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona to study global security and intelligence with a concentration in Chinese.
“I’ve been an active JROTC member for the last four years and, with all the turmoil in the world today, I want to serve my country by keeping it safe against global threats,” Quigley said. “I took it with a concentration in Chinese because I fell in love with the language as an elementary student and continued it as my language in high school.
“I may also continue my pilot credentials with the addition of instrumentation and commercial ratings while I am there,” Quigley explained.
Prior to leaving, Quigley said, he’ll work for his dad in their family masonry business -- plus relax.
Milford High School grad Shelby Blankenship will work with preschoolers at The Breakfast Club in Milford this summer. In the fall, she’ll study diagnostic sonography at Del Tech to become an ultrasound technician.
Turning life around
Appoquinimink’s Vanessa Rupertus wants to improve her writing skills this summer. She’ll be an English major at Washington College in Maryland. She’s also considering double-majoring in psychology.
“I’m majoring in English because I want to do something in the writing field, particularly in the creative aspect of it,” she said. “I’m aiming to become a technical writer, while writing creative works, both in short story and novel form on the side.
“As for possibly majoring in psychology, I took an AP class on it and it really interested me, especially the neuroscience aspect of it, and I thought it would be a good backup plan.”
Dover High School class president Barry Jones will attend Hampton University in Virginia, where he’ll major in English too. But his reason is different.
“I want to be an attorney,” Jones said.
During his freshman year, he’ll dual minor in political science and leadership studies.
Jones said majoring in English might give him an edge in his pursuit of becoming a corporate or criminal attorney. To do this, he’s required to pass the Law School Admission Test.
“I did a lot of research as to how to prepare for the LSAT,” he said. “I found out English majors performed better on the LSAT.”
Jones is proud to be accepted into Hampton - a top Historically Black College and University - because he remembers when he used to be on the wrong track.
“My freshman year, I was a shy kid. I didn’t hang around the best kids. But I’ve changed that and I’ve really grown,” he said. “I’m president of the senior class and president of the speech and debate club as well. And I’m involved in a lot of different committees in the school. I’m also involved in the community.”
Leading up to college, he’ll be working for the city of Dover as a camp counselor at Camp Small Wonder, with kids ages 3 to 6.
Delaying the ‘sadness’
Olivia Civiletti of the Sanford School has Baltimore on her mind. She’ll be spending four years there attending John Hopkins University.
Civiletti will enter her freshman year as an undecided major. Before school starts, she’ll be busy interning at Sanford.
“For our senior project we had to do an internship. I am doing mine with the Sanford communications and technology department,” Civiletti said. “A large part of my role there is writing for Sanford’s blog called Education Matters.”
Civiletti said she’s yet to receive her diploma, because Sanford’s graduation isn’t until Friday. And she has a feeling it’ll be bittersweet.
“It’s surreal leaving. I’ve been at Sanford for 14 years,” she said. “I think I’ve done a pretty good job pushing off the sadness that I think I’ve been saving for graduation.”
Reporters Shannon Marvel and Laura Pugh contributed to this story.