The online student newspaper of Vandegrift High School

Vandegrift Voice

The online student newspaper of Vandegrift High School

Vandegrift Voice

The online student newspaper of Vandegrift High School

Vandegrift Voice

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The end of an era: Seniors close out their high school chapters

Seniors Sevil Oksuzler and Xavier Leffler talk about graduation nearing and their thoughts about starting college in the upcoming fall.
The+end+of+an+era%3A+Seniors+close+out+their+high+school+chapters
Alyssa Hoy

How are you navigating the mix of emotions as your senior year comes to an end, and graduation approaches? What are the predominant feelings you’re experiencing?

Oksuzler: I’m feeling a little sad that high school and my years with my family at home are coming to an end, but also excited for the upcoming chapter ahead. It’s definitely very bittersweet, but I’m trying to keep an open mind and am doing my best to make the most of my last few months of high school.

Leffler: As graduation approaches, I mostly feel a melancholy feeling. While I am super excited to start a new chapter and meet new people, learn new things, and have far more freedom, I will definitely miss my time at Vandegrift and the great people we have here. I’ll miss the little things, like driving around the parking lot, seeing people in the halls, and hanging out in the library. I’m excited to see people at graduation, grad parties, and end-of-year celebrations because it will be super fun to reminisce and see everyone one last time, but I know I’ll be sad once I say goodbye to a lot of people for the last time.

 

Choosing a college and a major are significant decisions. Can you share the thought process behind your commitment, and what factors played a crucial role in making these choices?

Oksuzler: I think many factors come into play regarding my college/major commitment, but I would say the biggest thing for me was trusting my gut. I know how my heart and mind feel and think about the situation, so finding the happy medium between the two has been what I’ve been trying to reach. I haven’t committed to a college quite yet, but from the schools I’m down to, the biggest thing that’s distinguishing between the ones I’m highly considering and those I’m no longer considering is the sense of community in addition to the strength of the programs I’m interested in. When it comes to deciding on a major, I think trusting my gut was also a very large factor when it came to finding my happy medium. As someone planning to pursue med school, I decided to major in astrophysics (which isn’t too popular for premed) because of my interest in space and the fact that if I end up in medical school, I’ll have plenty of health science classes — so I steered away from biochem. Plus, I’m curious about the future of space medicine and believe I can apply my knowledge of space and medicine to the future of humanity in space.

Leffler: I chose to study Computer Science at the University of Texas at Austin. I chose UT, because on top of the in-state tuition, its combination of having phenomenal academic programs in my major and being a fun, large school are hard to find elsewhere. I chose computer science due to my passion for technology and a desire to help create the digital and tech systems that we will use for the rest of our lives.

 

Can you elaborate on what attending college means to you personally, and how you perceive it influencing your future aspirations and career goals? Are there specific expectations or hopes you have for this upcoming chapter of your life?

Oksuzler: For me, college is many things, but most notably a way to refine and further explore my academic interests to ultimately apply to my future career(s) in life. Moreover, I see college as a great transition point to get me out of my comfort zone when it comes to living without my parents and fully relying on myself. Additionally, I hope college educates me in areas of study other than my own, people’s different backgrounds, networking, and other things I don’t know that I don’t know.

Leffler: Personally, attending college means a brand new start, where I will be able to make new friends, form my life around my various interests, and structure my days in a way where I can do all sorts of brand-new things. Being able to walk to everything on campus will keep me busy and excited to learn new things. I hope I can make friends with a bunch of new people, learn exactly what I want in life, and figure out what I need to do to make that happen. 

 

Reflecting on your senior year, can you share a specific experience that made it unforgettable, and how do you believe it has contributed to your growth?

Oksuzler: Going to all the senior events like senior sunrise and football games was really transformative for me socially; I felt more connected and involved than ever before. These events pushed me out of my comfort zone in the best way possible, allowing me to break free from my shell and embrace the high school experience to the fullest. Each moment brought me closer to my peers and helped me create memories that I’ll cherish forever.

Leffler: In senior year, I joined the PALS program, and have loved getting involved with it throughout the year. I have gained new insights and grown more social, more outgoing, and happier as I give back to the community. PALS is a great program at Vandegrift and I believe it was a completely new experience that was a great way to learn new things, give back, and grow in my last year of high school.

 

What piece of advice would you offer to the rising seniors who are about to embark on their own senior year journey? Is there something you wish you had known?

Oksuzler: My advice for rising seniors is if you want to go to college right after high school, work on essays, resumes, etc. over the summer before senior year (at least as much as you can). I didn’t really do that and it was a pain to do in the fall. Also, don’t give up on your senior year, keep putting the work in, but don’t overwork yourself either. Give yourself some grace, school is hard. Plus, try to go out of your comfort zone a little and do something that you haven’t explored yet in high school (go to sports events, hang out with friends more often, go to homecoming and prom, etc.). You’re never going to be in high school again, so make the most of your time and have fun. Things are going to work out the way they’re meant to, so just do your best to find your school/life balance—it’s different for everyone.

Leffler: One, figure out a plan that makes you excited and happy. Whether it’s a college you really love or a career or whatever, make sure that after graduation you have things to work towards and are excited about. Two, don’t spend too much thought and worry on college applications, just because it makes you more stressed. A lot of it is just random, and once you get your essays done, you just have to submit, sit back, and enjoy the ride. Make sure you apply to schools that cover the bases of the things you potentially want because I definitely changed from who I was in September to who I am today. I was convinced I was going to go to Colorado or Utah, but now I am super psyched to go to UT. It will all work out eventually. Also, say yes to everything possible. If an old friend wants to hang out, do it. If a buddy you don’t know that well wants to do something, you might as well try. You will have a lot more fun and be engaged with your school, and I think that is very important in your senior year.

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About the Contributor
Marley Page
Marley Page, Staff Reporter
Marley Page is a senior and is thrilled to serve her first year on staff. Apart fr0m newspaper, she is involved with Operation Smile, NHS, and Yearbook at Vandegrift. In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts, spending time with her friends, and volunteering at Ten Thousand Villages of Austin.

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