In a few months, seniors throughout Vermilion parish will receive their high school diplomas. Until their big night, they are still attending classes, participating in extra-curriculum activities and planning their future. But as they take that first step towards the next phase in their lives, where will they find direction? Where will they find the strength?
My niece Taylor Couvillon is a senior at Kaplan High School this year. In addition to being the cheerleading captain, she is class president and student council vice president. I recently had dinner with her to talk about her future, and the pressures of the last few months before she officially becomes a high school graduate.
“I know I want to go to college,” Taylor said “I’m just not sure where, or what I’m going to study.”
Taylor has interests in both law and publishing. As part of a senior project, she recently shadowed an editor with the University of Louisiana Press to learn more about the industry.
“Now I’d like to shadow an attorney,” Taylor said. “Having these opportunities has been very helpful in making a decision.”
For many seniors, deciding what to do after graduation is the biggest choice they’ve ever made. Be it pursuing a higher education, joining the armed forces or entering the workforce, their decision will affect their future.
“I’m going to college because my parents taught me that education gives strength,” says Taylor. “I’m looking forward to the freedom and responsibility it will bring, but sometimes I’m afraid I’ll fall on my face.”
Taylor said that the most challenging part of high school was the class work. She motivated herself by focusing on her goal of graduating, which would allow her to move forward in her life.
“One thing I’m going to do different in college is not get caught up in the little problems,” Taylor said. “My advice to a high school freshman is to do the same, and to stay focused on learning and getting a degree.”
According to Taylor, what she enjoyed most about high school was being exposed to new people. She feels it helped her grow, and made her more tolerant of others. In the future, she would like to travel in order to learn about different cultures and people. She is especially interested in third world countries where she could assist those in need.
“It would help me feel more grateful for everything I’ve been given,” says Taylor. “I’d stop worrying about the little stuff and see things clearer. I’ve come to realize that I am only a small part in the big scheme of the world.”
Even though I graduated over twenty years ago, I can still remember the excitement and anxiety of being in Taylor’s shoes. Like my niece, I had accomplished my goal of completing high school, but was concerned that I wasn’t prepared for what lied ahead. But my desire to move forward into the next phase of my life outweighed my fear (and sometimes common sense). Although I made many mistakes along the way, I learned and grew from the experience.
“How will you take that first step after graduation?” I asked Taylor. “Where will you find the strength?”
“By looking at the past and future,” Taylor said. “I’ll see what I learned, and then use it to move forward.”