Graduates are finding their own paths
Published: Friday, May 25, 2012 at 11:39 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 25, 2012 at 11:39 a.m.
The traditional goals of high school graduates usually center around either going on to college or stepping directly into the workforce — assuming they can find a job in today's tenuous economy. But, there always some who break from tradition and some who defy it completely.
The three students profiled below represent some of those who are traveling different paths. But whether members of the class of 2012 head straight for a college classroom, for a horse stable, a stage or a hike in the Andes, they are eager to take the next step after 12 years of diligent preparation.
Tyler Hogan, Petaluma High School
While most of her friends are relaxing this summer, graduating Petaluma High School senior Tyler Hogan will be learning how to build her own business at the Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School in Sacramento.
Hogan, a horse-enthusiast since the age of eight, will attend a two-month intensive study program where she will learn basic horse anatomy, the art of horseshoeing and how to create her own website and market her newly honed skills.
“Unless you have a large number of clients right away, it's not a trade you can live off of easily. Fortunately for me, I already have a client-base set up since I know so many people with horses in the area,” said the pragmatic teen, who is approaching her future with determination.
Having that built-in clientele will be essential for Hogan, who is planning to attend Santa Rosa Junior College in the fall, and hopes to pay her tuition with her new side business.
Hogan says that she loves kids and has always wanted to be a teacher. But like many young people entering adulthood in the struggling economy, Hogan realizes the benefits of having a skill that few others possess.
“The art of horseshoeing is dying. While I am excited to keep a wonderful skill like this alive, I am also really happy to have something to fall back on — just in case,” she said.
Hogan has had her own horse — Snickerdoodle — for almost three years, and says that the bond between a rider and her horse is very strong.
“It's not like owning a dog. You're literally trusting your horse with your life,” she said. “I love that.”
When her mother came across this program, she suggested it to Hogan, who jumped at the opportunity.
“I'm not nervous; I'm just excited to be around an entire school of people who love horses as much as I do, and to learn a skill that people my age usually don't care about. This will be a great skill to have,” said Hogan.
Doug Garcia, St. Vincent High School
When most of his fellow St. Vincent High School graduates head to college classrooms next fall, Garcia will do his studying in the mountains of Peru and Ecuador.
The 18-year-old will spend four months traveling and helping residents in that country as part of a 12-person team of young people put together by Adventure Corps.
“We will spend our time doing service projects and helping people,” he explained. “We'll build things and do whatever the people need help with.”
Garcia's journey will be just that — a journey. He says it will include hiking and living in the Andes Mountains.
Like many young people, Garcia is unsure of just what his future holds as graduation approaches, and he acknowledges what many feel. “I'm kind of burned out on school in general.”
Garcia isn't going into his adventure completely unprepared. He has friends who have already completed a tour with Adventure Corps and have told him some of the things to expect.
That doesn't mean he is going into the experience without some trepidation.
“I'm nervous about being so far from home, but I think I can handle it for four months,” he said.
The nervousness is offset by the excitement of not only helping others, but of experiencing other cultures. “To really travel you have to be with the people. You can't stay in a hotel all the time. This will be an immersion in another culture.”
Garcia will spend the summer working to save enough money for his journey which begins in mid-September. Once he returns in December, he plans to continue with his education at a more traditional college.
The son of Kathy and Henry Garcia, the adventurer is, in many respects, a typical St. Vincent high school graduate. He has exceptional grades and played both varsity football and basketball.
It is just that, for now, his classroom will be the Andes Mountains.
“I hope it will make me more well rounded as a person,” he explained.
Katie Wigglesworth, Casa Grande High School
Casa Grande High School graduate Katie Wigglesworth is taking a somewhat traditional path; it is just that she plans to travel that path at hyper-speed.
Wigglesworth is headed from Casa Grande to Santa Rosa Junior College, with an eye on transferring to UCLA to study performing arts in just three semesters. That means acquiring 20 units a semester. It is a feat something like running a marathon at sprinter's speed.
“UCLA has always been my dream school,” Wigglesworth explained. “I can't afford to go there right after high school and my grades aren't quite good enough, so I made a deal with myself that if I couldn't get there right off the bat, I'd get there as soon as possible.”
Of course, UCLA is also a stepping stone to Wigglesworth's ultimate goal. While many of her classmates will continue to work to become doctors, lawyers, teachers and business people, she is determined to be a performing artist.
It is not a frivolous goal.
“A lot of people say they want to be an actress, but you have to work really hard,” Wigglesworth said. “It takes so much mental and physical attention.
“But it is something I really want and I am really working to get.”
She is so willing to work, that she has already figured out how to cram two years work of college into three semesters, still take performing arts classes and hopefully perform in junior college productions. And, still work at Copperfield Books to help finance her goals.
She said she is not facing the challenge alone. “I have a huge support group of friends I've made from taking classes at the JC and Casa kids who are already there. They are helping me a lot,” she said.
“It is a little daunting, but I'm excited.”
Wigglesworth is the daughter of Debra Koehler and Russ Wigglesworth. She has one brother.
(Contact the writers at email@example.com)
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