Wakefield seniors proceed to non-traditional paths


Katie Spampinto

From finishing high school to graduation, students at Wakefield High School make life changing decisions that will set the scene for their future. While these Wakefield seniors go into different career paths, they all have one thing in common.

As the 2022-2023 school year finishes, many seniors are anticipating their post-graduation plans. Many seniors at Wakefield High School, WHS, will embark on a non-traditional path after high school graduation. Whether that path is a gap semester, the Space Force, the military, or a multitude of other options, students are one step closer to achieving their dreams.

Many students have chosen to divert from the conventional idea of attending college or university right after high school. Though their plans are very different, they are all united in the belief that there are many different options when it comes to post-graduate plans and that post-college plans are not one-size-fits-all.

To some people, college is the first step into the real world. However, for students like Alajah Owens, that proves to not always be true. After graduation, Owens plans to become a dental assistant and eventually start her own business. Owens acknowledges that someone does not need to go to college to be successful. Owens has her aunt to thank for her motivation to pursue a career as a dentist assistant.

I have also been interested in the Navy or some field of the military for quite a while, ever since learning about it from my family members who have also served.

— Erwin

“My aunt inspired me to [pursue] this career. She is a mother of four, lives on her own, and has a really nice house,” Owens said.

Since attending college is not a necessary requirement for becoming a dental assistant, Owens is jumping at the opportunity to become financially stable without the stresses of college.

Aliyah Ambrose is another student with a non-traditional plan following high school. Starting this July, Ambrose will go into basic training for the Space Force which will lead her to becoming a Signals Intelligence Analyst. With immense time and patience, Ambrose plans to buy a home, which will then lead her to apply to the University of Florida College of Medicine and UNC School of Medicine.

“Right now [my passions] lean towards the Space Force and getting a job as a Signals Intelligence Analyst. [I will] do that for four years and then get my bachelor’s degree [to become] a Diagnostic Radiologist,” said Ambrose.

Ambrose will have to cut her summer short, as basic training starts in July, consisting of difficult conditioning that will last over seven weeks. After graduation, Ambrose looks forward to spending time with her friends before she leaves to go to basic training.

“Hopefully this is what is right for me,” said Ambrose. “I think that the challenges I have gone through in life have led me to the correct decision.”

Senior Sha’riya Johnson relates to this. While college is always an option, other influences aside from school can determine the outcome of someone’s life.

Johnson and several other seniors at WHS have chosen to join the United States Military the summer after high school. Enlisting in the military has always been a dream of Johnson’s, so she cannot wait to see what the future holds for her.

“I chose to go to the military because I’m from a military family,” Johnson said. “I [also] wanted more of a challenge.”

Johnson plans on remaining with the military for eight years and will start off being stationed in the local Raleigh area. After those eight years, Johnson plans to become a real estate agent, which is another big dream of hers. While the military may not be the standard post-high-school route, Johnson knows what is best for her and her future.

“I hope to [have] more discipline, my own apartment, my own car and be more stable,” Johnson said.

Senior Kinleigh Erwin, after much research and deliberation, has decided that the National Navy ROTC program at UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as studying abroad during her first semester in Grenada, Spain, is the best choice for her future.

“Ever since I can remember, my favorite subject in school has been science,” Erwin said. “I have also been interested in the Navy or some field of the military for quite a while, ever since learning about it from my family members who have also served.”

Erwin also attributes her passion to the Wake Tech physics class she took while at WHS, through the CCP program. Erwin is grateful to WHS for this but is also looking forward to the coming years when she will be able to explore new places and learn new topics, train for the Navy, and major in physics with a minor in Spanish and aerospace.

“I am looking forward to experiencing the freedom college gives, and the opportunities it presents,” Erwin said. “I am also super excited to go to Spain and experience a new culture and lifestyle.”

If you want to do something, believe in yourself and do it.

— Ly

Another senior at WHS, Rachel Ly, plans to take a trip to Vietnam this summer and spend a semester on a break before attending Wake Tech Community College afterward. This choice may not be the norm, but Ly is looking forward to taking advantage of the break to find herself before making a bigger decision about what she wants to accomplish in life.

“Senioritis is real. High school is going to beat you to the ground, but also build your character,” Ly said. “Don’t always think that college is the way to go.”

Ly, along with many other seniors at WHS, has a lot of hope for their futures and are grateful to WHS for helping them along the way.

“If you want to do something, believe in yourself and do it. Take a gap semester, take a gap year, go to your dream college, and apply anywhere,” Ly said. “You don’t always have to go to college, and you can always change your decision and go back to college later on in life.”