Oklahoma’s tenacious high school graduates prepare for their journey ahead.
Bishop Kelley High School
Attending: University of Southern
Major: Film and television production
What has led you to want to pursue that field? I have always loved telling stories and entertaining others by creating movies … Seeing the impact my short films can have, even on small audiences, encouraged me to attempt to turn my hobby into a career and my ideas into major motion pictures.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life? My middle school language arts teacher, Deb Thalken, influenced me more than anyone else in my life by instilling in me an ability not only to read, but to think; not only to write, but to articulate thoughts effectively; and not only to speak English correctly, but to love the language itself.
What do you feel is your biggest achievement? I have never felt more accomplished than I did while finishing the Route 66 Marathon. Accomplishments in school have always come naturally to me, but my attempts at sports were naturally disastrous. … [That] continued relentlessly until I stumbled onto my high school cross-country team. … Running cross-country gave me a sense of accomplishment because, for the first time, I could see myself improving, step by step. …The marathon itself gave me the opportunity to push myself to my limit and put my newfound skill to the test.
Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School
Attending: University of Oklahoma
Major: Biochemistry: pre-med with a minor in business
What are your career plans? I hope to one day become a doctor. I am trying to keep an open mind on the specific field, but I am looking at ophthalmology or dermatology.
What has led you to want to pursue that field? Since before I can remember, I have wanted to be a doctor because they seemed like superheroes. I personally am drawn towards the field of ophthalmology because I have always had terrible eyesight. The day I received my first pair of lenses, I was amazed, and I wanted to bring that gift to other people, more specifically to those who may not be able to afford a doctor’s visit.
If you could trade places with one person for a day, who would it be, and why? … I would be Emma Watson. Not only did she act in one of my favorite series, Harry Potter, but she is also a strong advocate for women’s rights. … I would love to spend a day in the shoes of this beautiful woman that has used her talents to make a difference in this world, and this way, I will be able to learn how to thrive like she has.
Diego Eleazar Luevano
Edison High School
Attending: University of Chicago
Major: Physics and philosophy
Who has been the biggest influence in your life? Why? … At the beginning of my high school in Mexico, I would have to say it was Medel Perez, as his lessons introduced me to physics and the beauties of it and also instilled in me a way of thinking, while introducing me also to the kind of person I wanted to become: One who serves his community and tries to change it through sharing his few or many talents with others … Later, in Edison, I would have to say Mr. Hammond. … His classes reinstilled in me the thirst for knowledge. … Finally, in the very recent weeks, while volunteering at the Catholic Charities Food Pantry, Bryan Meyers, the pantry supervisor, has become a person whose moral genius is simply impressive. Seeing him handle and interact with every single one of the volunteers and guests with a true love for every single person he comes across has made me more aware that success or happiness does not rely on any sort of external achievement but in carrying every single one of our actions with a true devotion to it and even love for it.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 20 years? I truly have no idea. If you had asked me four years ago where would I see myself, I am certain that the words Chicago, Oklahoma, or even any English word would not have been in the answer, so by now I´ve found out that the only thing you can expect from life is the unexpected. However, I can tell you that I hope that I am doing something in which I can help improve the community around me and continue to learn about the subject I had decided to devout my life to.
Jenks High School
Attending: Ithaca College
Major: Documentary studies and production
Who has been the biggest influence in your life? My film teacher, Clifton Raphael, has undoubtedly had the largest impact on my life. Without his class, his guidance, his patience and his support, I am confident that I wouldn’t have had nearly as many opportunities as I do right now.
What are some characteristics that make you stand out from the rest of your graduating class? My peers at school have many times seen me lugging a camera and a tripod around campus while wearing my Jenks tennis fleece. I am known around school as the filmmaker tennis girl who often has very little free time. I have been a four-year member of my high school varsity tennis team, and I have won state alongside my teammates three times. I have also earned more than $7,000 in prize money from various filmmaking projects. Additionally, I started an afterschool film camp at Eugene Field Elementary School, for which I volunteered my time to teach kids in a low-income part of Tulsa the basics of documentary filmmaking.
If you could trade places with one person for a day, who would it be, and why? I recently read a book that mesmerized me – Life of Pi. I would like to switch places with Piscine Patel in order to understand his enduring desire for life and his understanding of the human condition.
Riverfield Country Day School
Attending: New York University
Major: Music industry
What are your career plans? The end goal, end being the next five to 10 years, is to be performing my own music and being in charge of as much as possible, including but not limited to the writing, performing, managing, advertising and producing.
What has led you to want to pursue that field? In all honesty, I think it’s just what I’m best at. I still have a long way to go, but I feel that if I hadn’t have chosen to go into music, I would regret it deeply.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? In 10 years I hope to be traveling, performing, working, working and working.
What are some characteristics that make you stand out from the rest of your graduating class? … For the most part, I’m idealistic and opportunistic. If I truly want to do something, I will find a way to do it. I’ve started taking ballet this past year, and one of my friends asked me once if I was going to take classes in New York City, and if so, was I nervous to be taking [classes] with people much better than me. All I could say was that it didn’t quite matter if I was nervous or not, because it is something that I want to keep pursuing.
Cascia Hall Preparatory School
Attending: Southern Methodist University
Major: Mechanical engineering
Who has been the biggest influence in your life? Why? My dad. He supports me in all of my ventures in life.
What do you feel is your biggest achievement? Winning the Championship Karting International Title.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 20 years? Working as an engineer in Formula One racing.
What are some characteristics that make you stand out from the rest of your graduating class? I have a dry sense of humor, and I enjoy thinking on my own.
If you could trade places with one person for a day, who would it be, and why? Cristiano Ronaldo. I would like to experience the athletic ability and lifestyle the of the world’s greatest soccer player.
Attending: The University of Tulsa
What has been the biggest influence in your life? Why? My mother has been my biggest influence … When I was young, she left her parents in India and moved my family to the United States to give my brother and me a better chance at education. Even though she worked, took care of the family and helped us with our homework, she went back to school, even if it meant waking up early and staying up until midnight studying and writing papers. For her, education is the most precious gift she could give … Her determination is inspiring and has made me want to go as far as I can with my dream.
What do you feel is your biggest achievement? My biggest achievement was helping to revitalize the culture program at my high school. … This year, I helped to organize a week of cultural performances for the morning during our daily morning meeting. These performances ranged from ballet to a kung fu demonstrations to mariachi singing. I wanted to give my classmates the opportunity to experience something they might not have see otherwise and give them a new appreciation for the diverse cultures that help to make up the community as a whole.
If you could trade places with one person for a day, who would it be, and why? … I would like to be Florence Nightingale. I admire her courage in helping soldiers during the Crimean War … After the war, she kept pushing forward for reforms and helped along the nursing profession. … Even though her life was not easy, she never gave up and continued trying to make the world a better place.
Booker T. Washington High School
Attending: The University of Tulsa
What are your career plans? I’d like to continue telling stories, with the aspiration of becoming a publisher to smooth the way for writers like me.
What has led you to want to pursue that field? The publication of my contemporary-realistic, coming-of-age novel, To Hear The Ocean Sigh.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life? Why? There’s a good reason why I believe my high school is the highest ranked in the state of Oklahoma: the teachers. They have challenged and inspired me throughout the past four years to take my work seriously and to believe in my talents. Literary-wise, Stephen King, John Green, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Rod Serling of The Twilight Zone have all inspired my writing.
What would people be surprised to learn about you? I have a 1937 Royal DeLuxe typewriter named Ernie, after the writer most famous for using that particular model. It’s probably my most prized possession.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 20 years? In 10 years, I would like to be cranking out books at a steady pace and for kids to be skipping school to pick up their copies from their local bookstore. In 20 years, I hope to have survived the zombie apocalypse.
Carly Alyse Mirabile
Attending: Duke University
Major: Public health or engineering
What has led you to want to pursue that field? Although I am unsure of which occupation I will ultimately pursue, I believe it will encompass both problem-solving and creativity … I am happiest when I am busy working out a problem – no matter how big or small.
What do you feel is your biggest achievement? My biggest achievement is my independent study project, The Fractured Figure, which I completed during my senior year. I created an art gallery of my own pieces focused on bringing awareness to distorted body image. Each piece followed extensive research, and each tells a story. Throughout the process, I recorded my findings in a blog, and I eventually opened my gallery and welcomed over 150 people – furthering the dialogue about the cultural erosion of body image.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life? The biggest influence in my life has been my amazing art teacher and mentor, Mrs. Patricia Winnard. She has taught me to trust and value my instinct, as well as encouraging me to look beyond the surface and to make waves. Everything she has taught me has been tremendously applicable in every aspect of my life. Plus, she is a wonderful friend.
Metro Christian Academy
Attending: University of Oklahoma
Major: Entrepreneurship and management information systems
What are your career plans? I’m not certain about what I want to do, and I’m open to opportunities. However, I’d like to work in the technology field, and I want to eventually run my own company.
What has led you to want to pursue that field? I’ve liked math and technology since I was young. Also, the technology field is ever-growing and full of opportunity.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life? Why? My dad has been the biggest influence in my life. I have learned much of my common sense from him, and I really respect him as a person.
What are some characteristics that make you stand out from the rest of your graduating class? I would say that the fact that I’m well rounded … I’ve been involved in many different activities, varying from football to Spanish club to National Honor Society.
What would people be surprised to learn about you? People would be surprised to know that I’m also a private pilot.
Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics
Attending: California Institute of Technology
What are some characteristics that make you stand out from the rest of your graduating class? I often feel that not enough teenagers are interested in math and science, and I hope that this changes in the future. I want to be a part of this shift and hopefully influence others in the same way that my teachers and family members have influenced me.
What do you feel is your biggest achievement? Graduating from the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics is my biggest achievement. The school was rigorous, but it gave me a lot of opportunities and greatly helped me get accepted into Caltech.
If you could trade places with one person for a day, who would it be, and why? I would trade places with [the late American theoretical physicist] Richard Feynman for a day if I could. He was one the most creative scientific minds in history and was an incredibly talented physicist. Feynman was also very good at explaining his field and its complexities to everyone, not just other physicists. I believe that this is a very useful skill, and to understand his mindset would be amazing.