JHS graduates look past horizon for plans following high schoolFollowing Jamestown High School’s commencement ceremony Sunday, it marked the start of a new chapter in the lives of those 161 graduates. With more than 60 percent of this year’s class planning to attend a college or university this fall, some of those students have elected to spend their next four years at institutions hundreds of miles away.
Following Jamestown High School’s commencement ceremony Sunday, it marked the start of a new chapter in the lives of those 161 graduates. With more than 60 percent of this year’s class planning to attend a college or university this fall, some of those students have elected to spend their next four years at institutions hundreds of miles away.
Lone Star State-bound
For Pat Lane, the decision to attend a school more than 1,200 miles south of Jamestown was an obvious one. Lane will be attending Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, this fall to study aerospace engineering.
“I don’t think it’s hit me yet that I’m going to be hundreds of miles away from home,” said Lane, who earned five local scholarships and was one of 10 Honor Award recipients Sunday.
A liking of warmer temperatures and the desire to be a part of a large university were two of the driving forces behind his decision.
“I figure if I go to a bigger school, then I’ll get into an atmosphere where bigger things are happening around me,” Lane said. “I just want to get out there and experience that.”
Texas A&M’s College Station campus has approximately 40,000 undergraduates.
Lane, whose father is a mechanical engineer at Goodrich in Jamestown, said his love for engineering came from him as well as a lifelong interest in space and rockets.
Why Texas, though? Lane said he has family in the state and said the tour of the A&M campus sold him on the decision.
“I’ve always liked Texas, and when I went on the tour last year down there I just loved it,” he said. “Plus when I was doing research on some of the best aerospace engineering programs in the country, A&M was among the best.”
It’s not unprecedented for a member of the Lane family to make a big move after high school, as Pat said his older brother attended college in California and said, “He’s doing OK for himself out there.”
Becoming a Cyclone
Lane can’t make the claim to be the only JHS grad this year planning to study aerospace engineering out-of-state, as his friend and classmate John Nagel will be attending Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, this fall.
For Nagel, the appeal of ISU’s new engineering building and what he called “a lot of cool toys” ultimately made him want to become part of the 24,000-plus Cyclone student body.
“I have a couple of relatives that went there, and one of my friend’s dads got an engineering degree from there,” said Nagel, who earned three local scholarships and was also one of 10 Honor Award recipients Sunday.
His affinity for aeronautics and aerospace developed from a love for building things growing up and from a couple of popular science-fiction series.
“Honestly, one of the biggest factors was just watching Star Wars and Star Trek,” he said.
With some mixed feelings about leaving for a school more than 500 miles from home, Nagel said he has received support about the decision from friends and family.
“My parents let me make up my own mind and were going to be supportive of me wherever I decided to go,” he said. “My friends think it’s pretty cool I’m going out there too.”
As for what he looks forward to most when he steps on campus in August, Nagel said it’s all about experiencing new things.
“I look forward to spreading my wings a little bit. Iowa State is a big campus with people from various parts of the country and even though I haven’t spent a whole lot of time outside the area, I like experiencing different lifestyles,” he said.
Another significant move from a member of this year’s JHS graduating class can be claimed by Sarah Muhs, who plans to study biology and music performance this fall more than 1,100 miles away at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash.
While Muhs’ older sister and brother elected to stay relatively closed at the University of North Dakota and Minnesota State University Moorhead, respectively, Sarah is proud to be bucking the family trend with her move out west.
“I decided I wanted to go out there when I was a sophomore and nobody thought I’d really go through with it,” said Muhs, a member of the National Honors Society. “I do like throwing off people’s plans and expectations, though — it feels really good.”
For Muhs, she said that she not only wants to enjoy the beautiful landscape in Washington, but also said WSU’s academic programs were too good to pass up.
“I’m passionate about both science and music, and I wanted a school that had both programs (biology and music performance), so it was kind of the perfect combo,” she said.
She plans to concentrate in piano performance within the music performance program.
Muhs is no stranger to being away from home for a while, as she said she spent time near the Pullman area hiking around the western part of Idaho and once spent three weeks abroad in Europe.
“It’s certainly far from home, but then again I’ve been far from home before,” she said.
Muhs said her friends initially were shocked to hear about her college plans but have since come around to the idea.
“When I first told them, they were all like ‘What!’ But now they’re even planning ways to come out and see me,” she said.
Her parents, meanwhile, were skeptical all along that Muhs would actually go through with that big of a leap.
“I’m the baby of the family so they said ‘Well, if that’s where you want to go…’ but they always thought I would back out,” she said.
The JHS guidance department, led by Julie Skunberg and Gayle Nelson, conducted a senior survey of all 161 seniors’ plans post-graduation. The results were as follows:
* 103 (64 percent) plan to attend a college or university — 27 of which plan to go out-of-state
* 31 (19 percent) plan to attend a vocational or technical school
* 9 (5.6 percent) plan to join the National Guard and attend college or technical school
* 9 (5.6 percent) plan to go full-time into the work force
* Seven (4.3 percent) are undecided
* Two (1.2 percent) plan to serve full-time in the armed forces
Sun reporter Brian Willhide can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at email@example.com