Pathways: Class of 2014

By Maddie Hiatt

A Tiger Rising

Mizzou is a popular university amongst college students in the Midwest, but one student holds the school close to her heart for a different reason

Kaitlin will be the third and final Eifert sister to graduate from FHN, and her college plans will be no different. Next fall, she plans on following her sisters, Chelsea and Maddie, to the University of Missouri-Columbia (Mizzou) to pursue her dream of becoming an elementary school teacher.

“I want to do elementary education because I want to be a positive influence on the youth of our future,” Kaitlin said. “I had a really good elementary experi- ence. All of my teachers were amazing, and I loved every minute of it. I want to be able to give that same happy experience to kids in the future.”

Although Mizzou is a wildly popular college, famous for its school spirit and large population, Kaitlin has other reasons for choosing the school as her next chapter. Mizzou is a family tradition in Kaitlin’s family that
goes farther up the family tree than Chelsea and Maddie. Both of Kaitlin’s parents attended Mizzou for some time. She has also had three aunts attend the college as well as several other cousins.
“We always go up on family week- end,” Kaitlin’s oldest sister Chelsea said. “Even if we don’t go to the game, we always tailgate. I’m trying to get my parents to get a permanent tailgate spot for every game. I just love going up there and being up there for games, even if you don’t get to go up in the stadium. I can’t see myself stopping from going up there.”

Mizzou wasn’t always Kaitlin’s top choice when picking universities. She thoroughly considered North Carolina State University. In fact, Chelsea and Maddie went through the same process. Chelsea looked into attending Ball State or Northwestern University, and Maddie wanted to at- tend the University of Kentucky or Missouri University of Science and Technology.

“I was like, ‘Kaitlin, if that’s what you really want, we’ll support you no matter what,’” Chelsea said. “But in the back of my head I was like, ‘You should go to Mizzou.’ It’s not just a good place for us to go because of our personalities, but a good place for our family.”

Kaitlin plans on pledging a sorority and has high hopes of getting into Kappa Delta, the sorority Maddie is a current pledge for and Chelsea was a part of when attending Mizzou. Kaitlin will have a big name to live up to if she becomes a part of Kappa Delta. Chelsea made a huge impact in enforcing PACE, an organiza- tion that focuses on bettering the home of Kappa Delta. Maddie is helping to add on to the Eifert name, helping out with PACE and becoming a recruit leader for their sorority.

“Every time I visited Kappa Delta, I just felt really comfortable and enjoyed it,” Kaitlin said.

Although Chelsea and Maddie are ecstatic about Kaitlin becoming a Tiger, they want her to do whatever will make her the happiest.

“I hope she branches out,” Maddie said. “In high school, I felt like she was kind of reserved and kept to herself. I pushed her to join Student Council her senior year and now she loves it. I hope she finds family up here like I did. I want her to be happy wherever she goes and with whatever she does.”

Maddie is not the only one who has high expecta- tions from Kaitlin as she enters this stage of her life. Both sisters want what’s best for her.

“I just see Kaitlin flourishing,” Chelsea said. “I know she’ll find something where she’ll fit in but can also step up and really expand as a leader.”

Whether she joins a sorority other than Kappa Delta, or chooses a separate path that strays away completely from Eifert tradition, Kaitlin knows she’s got an amaz- ing support group behind her.

“I love my family,” Kaitlin said. “They’re always sup- portive of everything I do. I always have a person to go to if I have a question or problem. They push me to be a better person. My sisters have set an example for me and I’d love to continue in their footsteps.” <p><p>

<h2>Called to Action</h2>

<h3>While most seniors have chosen the college path, Justin Perry follows his dream of joining the army </h3>

nce Justin Perry was just a kid, he has known that the army life was for him. Justin’s cousin joined the military when Justin was just nine years old, and he looked up to his cousin for that decision and knew that’s what he also wanted to do when he grew up. After months of preparing for this exact moment, Justin will pack up his things and leave for basic training on Aug. 11.

“I just like the whole concept of being in the military,” Justin said. “It’s so exciting just working with a team like that. I just really can’t wait to go.”

Justin enlisted on Jan. 31 and has been going to Young Soldiers Training
at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) building in St. Louis since February. After someone enlists in the military they are required to go to Young Soldiers Training every Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. until they leave for basic training. At Young Soldiers Training, they start off with a run and then do as many push-ups and sit-ups as they can. The trainees also perform other various exercises in order to get in the best physical state pos- sible. Many trainees find that Young Soldiers Training is extremely helpful in preparing for the military.

“I think it get’s you fit and makes you look at what boot camp is actually go- ing to be like for you and see just how bad it will be and how they treat you,” senior Areli Lara, who is going into the Marines and is friends with Justin, said.

While trying something new usually brings apprehensions to many, Justin feels nothing but excitement for this new stage in his life. With friends and family by his side to support his decision to join the army, Justin is more sure than ever that this is the right choice for him.

“I think it’s a good thing for Justin to do because when he goes into the military he’s going to get a good jump start on a career after leaving the military, unless he decides to stay in the military for 20 years or so and make it a career there,” art teacher Paul Just, who instructs Justin for most of the day and is close to him, said. “When he gets out he can move on to doing some other types of things in mechanics as well. I think it will help him to focus a lot and to become a really good member of society.” Although most students have chosen to attend a four-year university and continue into their career, Justin has chosen to take advantage of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, more commonly referred to as the G.I. Bill. The G.I. Bill will pay for Justin’s education in mechanics for light- wheeled vehicles and eventually allow him to land a secure job, not only in the military, but also as a civilian once he decides that his time in the army is over.

“I’m tired of this stage of my life,” Justin said. “I’m excited to start this new stage. It’s always fun to try something new. This is something I’ve always wanted to try my whole life.” <p><p>

<h2>Building a Career</h2>

<h3>After studying at Lewis and Clark Career Center for two years, Jacob Young has made the decision to go straight into a job after graduation </h3>

Jacob Young has all the credentials that a good framer should have: formal training, two years of experience, and a work ethic that most young adults lack. Jacob would like to develop a career in general carpentry and has decided to go straight into a job after his June 7 graduation date. “[Framing] is the best trade/skill to learn because I can build my own house and because it’s good money,” Jacob said.

Jacob has taken the Building Trades course at Lewis and Clark Career Center for both years the option has been available for him. Over the past two years, Jacob has learned how to build a house from the bottom up.

“A company comes in and pours all the foundation,” Jacob said. “From there, we put all the floor joists on it, then the subfloor. Then, we start from the first floor and just start framing all the walls and get all that situated,
then we start on the second floor and just work our way up. Once the whole exterior is framed, we plywood the roof and shingle it and do siding. Then we put the drywall in.”

Jacob has enjoyed his time at Lewis and Clark and believes it has given him the education he needs to succeed as a framer. He originally chose to attend Lewis and Clark because he knew it would teach him the skills he needs.

“Part of it was because I wanted to miss half of [school at North],” Jacob said. “The other part was that I wanted to further my education in construc- tion.”

Jacob has been practicing his skills by participating in Skills USA, a non- profit organization that works to create an adequately-trained working class youth. Jacob attributes his success in competitions to his teacher Charles Henke. Jacob has also been working with his father, Michael Young, in con- struction. Michael did not graduate high school and, at the age of nineteen, had to start working and supporting his family.

“I’d rather see Jake go to college, myself,” Michael said. “I just think you have a better chance at making more money. You don’t have to get such a hard job. You kinda get to pick more of what you want to do.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 65.9 percent of 3 million high school graduates were enrolled in college by October 2013. Of the 2013

graduates who were not enrolled in college, 74.2 percent of them were part of the work force. This year, Jacob will be part of that 74.2 percent. “I’ll make $100,000 before people get out of college,” Jacob said. “I don’t want to do anything else.” <p><p>

<h2>It Takes a Commnity</h2>

<h3>One of many seniors attending Saint Charles Community College next year intends to use her education to become a nurse and provide for her young daughter </h3>

Yeen mom — two little words that can spark an enormous response. With MTV’s slate of popu- lar, long-running shows in the “16 and Pregnant” franchise and countless other recent TV programs documenting the world of adolescent pregnancy, many people hold strong preconceived notions of teenage mothers. Few of these impressions are positive, as FHN student Melissa Troncoso knows all too well. In Sep- tember 2013, at the beginning of her senior year of high school, Melissa gave birth to her daughter, Jacquelyn.

“I think people are judgmental toward teen moms,” Melissa said. “People sometimes say to me, ‘You made a lot of mistakes,’ but I don’t think of my daughter as a ‘mistake.’ That makes me mad because they don’t know my situation. They judge me before knowing me.”

Yet, Melissa has not let the occasional negativity get her down. Instead, she has chosen to challenge those assumptions.

“People talk so much crap about teen moms, and I want to prove them different,” Melissa said.

Attaining a college degree is how Melissa hopes to disprove those who doubt her. Though many teen moms find it difficult to continue with their education while raising a child, Melissa has used her daughter as added inspiration to focus on schooling. According to Family and Consumer Science teacher Rebecca Just, Melissa’s homebound teacher, Melissa became more motivated in school after her pregnancy.

“Having to grow up, to be responsible for another human being, plus aging, increased her maturity,” Just said. “Melissa is very bright, has common sense, gets along well with people, and can overcome challenges and struggles, but I think her baby gave her more motivation.”

Melissa plans to study nursing at Saint Charles Community College (SCC) with the goal of eventu- ally becoming a Registered Nurse, her career objective since middle school.

“I want to be a nurse because I like the fact of helping others,” Melissa said. “I’m trying to get my life together,senior center.indd

and I want to have something better for my daughter.” Melissa has already conquered many obstacles, but

she knows many more lie ahead. Although her preg- nancy did not ultimately interfere with her studies in high school, she expects going to college while raising a daughter will be much harder — least of all because of the increased difficulty in classes. Complicating things further, to continue providing for her daughter and save money for additional education, Melissa plans to work throughout her time at SCC.

“All I have in the back of my head,” Melissa said, “is how I’m going to be able to do it all, balancing school and family and work. I’m nervous, but I know I have lots of support.”

Melissa’s parents have been by her side every step of the way, providing a “huge help” to Melissa as she and her boyfriend attempt to get on their own feet. And Melissa knows she has plenty of family members who will be more than willing to babysit when the need arises. All in all, Melissa is confident in her future and in her ability to strike a family-school-work balance. Theresa Maher, Melissa’s Senior Literature teacher, thinks Melissa’s positive out- look is well-deserved.

“I know she’ll be successful in her endeavors,” Maher said, “because I can tell she really is committed to her responsibilities—school and her daughter. I think she realizes that her daughter is a gift, so she wants to work hard for her.”

With her daughter as inspiration, Melissa is more focused on her education than ever before. SCC gives her the opportunity to make a positive change for her future.

“My daughter has made me open my eyes more, made me more mature,” Melissa said. “Everything I do today is for her: school, focusing more, keeping my head up. I do this all for her.”<p><p>

<h2>A Restaurant to Call Her Own</h2>

<h3>Though her path seemed fuzzy amidst a life-changing event, Jess Stelzer is preparing to take on the culinary world on recipe at a time </h3>

Since she was in middle school, Jess Stelzer has dreamed of owning her own restaurant. She realized this dream when she took Family and

Consumer Science (FACS) and had to participate in a cooking class. It was while in FACS class that Jess discovered her talent for cooking. She recalls thinking the class was easy and fun, so she began to cook with her great-grandmother.

“I would experiment,” Jess said. “I would grab differ- ent spices and throw it together and then taste it and see, and then I’d put it on chicken or pork chops, and it would be good. I’ve always been passionate.”

In high school, she took cooking classes like Inter- national Cuisine along with Foods I and II. Her classmates say she was a great cook and was able to help her peers when the teacher was busy.

“She, like, already knows a lot of the stuff, like a lot of the things we learn in the classes,” junior Jack Boden, who had food classes with Jess, said. “I think she’s pretty good at it. There have been days when people in her group weren’t there, and she made it all by herself, so that’s pretty impressive.”

Though she wanted to take more cooking classes this year, she was placed in more art classes. However, Jess sees this as an opportunity.

“Food is art,” Jess said. “A lot of people don’t realize that, but if you can create anything with a paintbrush, you can create anything with food. If you wanna think about it, the plate is the canvas, and you can put whatever you want. You can design the plate whatever you want, you can put whatever you want on it. You

don’t like it? You either start over or you never do it again. You learn, just like you learn with art.”

Though some people told her that she would never go far with a career in culinary arts, Jess decided to follow her dreams. She had a clear plan of what she needed to do in order to eventually own her own restaurant. Her path seemed set.

Then life happened.

Almost a year and a half ago, Jess’ mother was diag- nosed with Endometrial (Uterine) cancer. The results showed that it was Stage 4—terminal. Jess’ college plans were placed on the back burner as the family focused on the crisis at hand.

“Before everything happened with Mom, I kinda had my life planned out,” Jess said. “I was gonna graduate; I was gonna go to culinary school; then I was gonna find a job. Well, since everything with Mom, it’s kinda scrambled my life in the future a little bit cause I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

Despite the diagnosis, Jess is tentatively planning her future. She wants to go to school closer to St. Louis, where the restaurant businesses are. Her dream would be to attend Le Cordon Bleu; however, she is also look- ing at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park and L’Ecole Culinaire.

“I hope that whatever her dreams are, she goes for them,” grandmother Debbie Connor said. “I want her to see as much as she can, do as much as she can, learn as much as she can, and be as good as she wants to be.” While attending college, she also plans to work for either a restaurant or catering company in order to pay for school. Since both Jess’ mother and uncle work in the culinary industry, she’s already received job offers from both of their companies. Ultimately, she wants to work, attend college, and then attend business school at night.

“These connections are actually helping me a lot,” Jess said. “These jobs can help me have money to pay for my culinary school to get me a step closer to opening my own business. And that brings a lot of peace of mind to me, especially in these hectic times.”

Right now, Jess works as a carhop at Sonic. This is just a step in her journey to one day owning her own restaurant. Ultimately, Jess would like to be the chef at her own Italian or Greek restaurant.

“A lot of people tease me, and they’re like, ‘Well, why don’t you just work as a chef in the back [of Sonic]?’” Jess said. “Because I don’t want to be cooking pre-made food. I want to make my own food.”