Now What? Students’ Post Graduation Plans
By Tori Jorgensen
After their recent graduation in May 2015, former West Jordan High School Jaguars are separating from their pack and moving across the state, country and beyond to reach for goals that will determine their futures.
Jennica Watkins has spent her first few months as a high school graduate working full time at a local daycare. She said she found her passion for teaching children while she taught preschool as part of a program at WJHS. Watkins’ ultimate goal is to run a preschool within her own home. This fall, however, her desire to teach will be taking her far from the confines of her own home.
“On Aug. 26, I’ll be flying out to China to help kids learn English,” Watkins said. “The kids in the school I will be at already know some English words. Our goal is to get them to speak fluently and teach them how to put sentences together.”
Watkins said she was inspired to do service away from home after hearing stories of her sister’s volunteer service trips to orphanages. Watkins chose to go to China because she said the place seemed exotic and the children seemed intelligent.
Carl Fauver, valedictorian of WJHS class of 2015, is staying nearer to home, as he will be living on campus in the Officer’s Circle housing at the University of Utah on scholarship from the Northrop Grumman Engineering Scholars Program. Fauver said his plan is to study mechanical engineering, although he said he wouldn’t be surprised if he changed to a different sector of engineering later on.
Fauver began his college campus experience this summer as he participated in the Bioscience Summer Research Program for High School Students at the University of Utah. Under the direction of Dr. Hung-Chieh Chou, assistant professor of biochemistry, Fauver participated in diabetes research and spent time in labs trying to recreate insulin.
“I [was] at a lab that was tailored for post-doctorates, and I am an undergraduate. The hard thing about research at my age is that it is all about how many pieces of paper you have on your name, and it doesn’t matter how talented you are,” he said. “I feel like it will take a while for people to acknowledge my work as meaningful research.”
Fauver presented his findings at a poster session at the U of U during the first week of August. He said he sees many more research projects to come in his future.
“In the end, I want to be remembered for something,” Fauver said. “Sure, I want to have a family and all that jazz, but I want to do something meaningful enough in research to contribute to society.”
Courtney Baggaley, another WJHS 2015 graduate, said she wants to make a difference in people’s lives through nursing. She plans to move to Provo to study pre-nursing at BYU this fall. In preparation for college, Baggaley participated in a Certified Nursing Assisting program her senior year of high school.
“I figured that if I enjoyed changing the briefs of old people and sponging them, I would love it all,” she said.
Baggaley said her plan is to go into labor and delivery because she saw the joy her siblings brought her mom when they were first born, and she wants to help other people to feel that same happiness. Baggaley said the hardest part about moving away from home will be being away from her siblings and parents whom she loves, but she said her experiences at WJHS have given her the crucial confidence she needed to get to college.
“West Jordan High School made me feel like I could do whatever I put my mind to. I felt good about going to school and talking to everyone,” she said. “It helped me to get around everywhere and go out into the big world and meet as many people as I can. I am excited to grow up.”
Jenna Scott, former senior class president at WJHS, said the support her teachers and fellow students gave her prepared her for college and adult life.
“I feel like my teachers taught me to own the path that I chose. Sometimes they let us fail, so we didn’t get babied,” she said. “I had a lot of struggles within the past two years, but the people at school would just remind me to try again tomorrow.”
Scott said she plans to attend Southern Virginia University, where her aunt and uncle work, before leaving on a volunteer religious service mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I put in a lot of prayer and waited out to see if I should go on a mission. It’s been a long process,“ she said. “I think a year and a half mission will benefit me more than staying here.”
Scott said physically and emotionally helping someone makes work enjoyable, and that is why she would like serving a mission. She said she also wants a career that will enable her to help others as well, such as occupational therapy or life coaching.