Catching up with class of 2019 Wilson grads

Courtesy of Nimai Welch

Elena Rubens Goldfarb

The act of moving the tassel on your graduation cap from right to left is simple, but that moment represents the beginning of the rest of your life. As you leave behind the comfort and security of what you’ve known, what comes next is up to you.

For many Wilson graduates, their next steps are usually to go to college or take a gap year. Now six months since their time in high school, Wilson’s class of 2019 is taking huge strides in transitioning from the comfort and security of home to being independent adults in the real world. I reached out to a few graduates who have all had to learn to deal with their newfound independence.

Instead of going straight to college, Naomi Todd spent the past five months hiking the Pacific Crest Trail that stretches from Mexico to Canada on the West coast. “It was a great experience that changed me a lot and I’m so grateful that I decided to spend my summer and fall doing that,” said Todd. Todd knew that she didn’t want to go to college immediately after graduating and she wanted to spend some time doing something that would challenge her. “I felt that I wanted to experience a different kind of learning besides one in the classroom,” she said. After finishing hiking, Todd drove cross country from Los Angeles back to DC, traveling around different national parks and cities. 

Nimai Welch is another former student who chose to take a gap year. Since graduating he’s been playing AAA Hockey in Massachusetts for Islander Hockey Club. “It’s been interesting navigating life without much structure but it’s been a good overall experience,” said Welch. He decided to take a different path than most of his peers because of his love for the sport. This option gives him the opportunity to play hockey and go to college, even if it delays him from going to college for a year. Welch has been taught a lot from people currently in college about how important time management is to be successful. On his own, he’s learned to stay motivated and use the input from others to help him make decisions about what to do next. 

Graduates who chose to take a more traditional approach to their post-high school experience are winding down their first semester as freshmen in college and have expressed similar excitement with where they have ended up. 

Gabby Anifantis attends the University of Southern California and is studying theater while pursuing a double minor in Public Relations and Health and Human Sciences. She expressed that she “really loves her school because [she is] able to pursue so many of [her] interests at the same time.” Since high school, her experience has been bittersweet. She loves college because she has met so many people unlike anyone she knew at home, and she can surround herself with people who care about her passions as much as she does. However, the change from high school to moving across the country where she didn’t know anyone was really significant and took a lot of adapting. 

Laurent Williams, a hospitality major at Coastal Carolina University, has expressed how happy he is with his new environment. “My first semester has been great so far, it’s been a lot easier than I expected and I’m doing much better than I did at Wilson,” said Williams. His transition from high school to college was better than he could have hoped for. He decided to wait to get adjusted to his new school before getting too heavily involved on campus but he plans on rushing next semester. 

Outside of classes, Ally Heinrich, who attends the University of Vermont in Burlington, has been involved in a sorority on campus where she does lots of community service. She frequently volunteers for the Ronald McDonald House, a nonprofit that provides boarding and food for families of children who are staying in hospitals. Once a week, Heinrich goes down to the house and cooks dinner for the families that are staying there. “Seeing the reaction of people staying in the house helped me realize how big of an impact we made,” said Heinrich. 

Each student feels differently about Wilson’s preparation for college. Zach Lordan, a freshman at the University of Michigan, said that “Wilson did a great job at making [him] a more independent student which [he] think[s] is the most important part of being a successful student.” Sammy Solomon, who attends Vassar College in New York State, believes Wilson prepared him for college comprehension-wise, but not essay-wise. “I write at least two six-page papers per week, more now that it’s finals season,” Solomon says. But he is thankful for English teacher Belle Belew who taught him everything he knows about essay writing—“Without her I would be drowning,” he said.