Travels and trades: paths other than college

In 2021, 88 percent of the WHS senior class chose to attend a four-year college immediately after graduating, with a similar percentage expected for this year. Because of this large majority, it can be easy to forget about the multitude of other opportunities that students take each year to find success after high school. These options include vocational schools, gap years, military service and more. Hi’s Eye spoke to students in the class of 2022 who are pursuing these alternate paths.

Christian Rios (Culinary school)

Rios will be attending Hudson County Community College, located in Jersey City. There, he will be pursuing a degree in culinary arts under the instruction of professors with hands on cooking experience. “You definitely have as many resources as you do in [top programs],” he said. Rios had eyed a future in the business sector such as sales or marketing before becoming interested in culinary arts. He attributes this change to his time spent planning and preparing meals based on his workouts, as well as working at Addam’s Tavern. “Just being around food that extra bit sparked a passion,” he said. “There’s a lot of different methods to cooking [which] you might not know. They can make cooking easier and more enjoyable.”

Caleb Timm (Air Force)

For more than 200 years, Timm’s family has dedicated themselves to serving our country. Now, Timm plans to continue his family’s tradition by enlisting in the US Air Force following the conclusion of his senior year. For Timm, the process started in the fall of 2021 where he began “preparing mentally and physically for life as an engineer for our armed forces.” Upon the completion of that phase and completion of high school, Timm will travel to San Antonio, Texas to begin basic training. For Timm, working with aircrafts has always fascinated him and having the opportunity to gain first hand experience “in regards to design, manufacture and use” will be invaluable. “I am very happy that I have an opportunity to serve the nation I love, see new places and adventure like none other,” said Timm.

Elliott Digney (Diesel Technical School) 

Next year Digney will be enrolling in the Diesel Technical School at Universal Technical Institute, located in Orlando, F.L. This path will serve as the continuation of a longstanding interest of Digney’s as he is currently working on his own diesel truck in his spare time. “I have the love for it,” he said. The location was also a critical factor in Digney’s decision to attend. Digney considers living in Florida as the most exciting part of his journey. He said, “That’s probably what made it the best option. I can’t wait.”

Kerala McGrail (Gap Year)

Being from the U.K., McGrail explained, “Gap years are very common in Europe so, when I approached my parents about the idea, they were very receptive.” McGrail hopes to travel with one of her brothers during her gap year and while she does not have a set list of destinations, she did mention that she “hopes to spend time with family and friends in the U.K.” When McGrail is not away, she will likely be in Florida with her family or working, something she’s continued to do since the age of 14.  Although many students take a gap year to prepare for college, McGrail said, “I am going to take some time to find the route I want to follow in life and then decide whether college is right for me. I’m only 17 and I can’t even fathom choosing what I want to do for the rest of my life right now, so I am giving myself a little more time and space to think about it.”