4 Seniors. 4 Paths After RMHS.

Ben Costa ('22), Orbit Contributor

The finish line is in sight. RMHS seniors will soon be graduating from high school. 

Now more than ever, it is important to acknowledge the various places our seniors will be going. Not only to inform fellow classmates about destinations, but to also give underclassmen a “taste” of their future.

In four recent interviews, seniors Han Diedrich, Ashley Barcroft, Bobby Squires, and Bella Staffier explained their future plans in detail. Each one of their stories in this article will be categorized based on why they chose their post-RMHS destination, their goals, their concerns, and what they would recommend for future upperclassmen.

“Why did you choose your particular post-RMHS destination?”

Han will be attending the University of California Irvine next year with majors in mathematics and computer science. He is one of the few RMHS seniors traveling to the Pacific Coast. When asked about his decision, Han said “It’s one of the best for my major, so I decided to go there, and it was one of my favorite campuses when I did a visit over the summer.” Not only does UC Irvine match Han’s academic interests, his family and travel experience have also influenced his choice. “My grandparents and my uncles live there, so I did visit them a lot when I used to live in Utah,” Han explained. “Then I moved to Massachusetts, and I go there on occasion.”

Ashley is enlisted in the US Army with a focus on infantry. Although there are other RMHS seniors headed for the military, she alone has enlisted in the Army. “It’s been in my family background,” she said in a recent interview. “I decided to go Army because of my grandfather, and I just thought it best suited me. My mom and dad are both very supportive of this decision.” Ashley’s grandfather served in the army during the Vietnam war, and her uncle served in the Navy. 

Compared to the typical senior destination, the options for Bobby Squires are rather unique. Bobby applied to various colleges both in America as well as the United Kingdom. Depending upon certain exam scores and personal feelings, Bobby will most likely attend either Northeastern University or the London School of Economics with majors in mathematics and economics. “The reason I chose to apply to school in the UK was largely because of some programs that they have, the way they do majors there,” Bobby stated. “It’s a lot more strict of a path than the US, but I really wanted to study a specific major they had called ‘philosophy, politics and economics’, which is really common there.” Unlike Han and Ashley, Bobby’s decision was made much more independently. “I just thought it would be a fun adventure to go somewhere else for four years of my life,” he added.

Bella will be staying local at Simmons University in Boston with majors in psychology and art. “My mom really wanted me to go here and also my aunt went there,” said Bella. “It was my decision in the end, but I think my family had a bit of a perspective on it.” With a clear plan in mind and family history at Simmons, this was the one and only school Bella applied to. 

“What are your goals there?”

“I’ve thought about it since I was young,” Han said. “When someone would ask me what college I’d go to, I just think ‘oh UCLA’ cause that was the only college I actually could name off the top of my head so that just kind of carried over and I wanted to go there ever since.” With computer science being among the most popular majors at UC Irvine, according to usnews.com, Han has set himself up for potential success. “There’s also a lot of tech companies [in California], which is what my majors are going to lead into, so those will be a good fit,” he noted.

“Airborne School, potentially Ranger School,” Ashley said when asked about her goals. “On June 20th I am being shipped off to Missouri for basic training and then after that I could potentially be going anywhere in the world for my deployment for a couple of years.” Even with such responsibility, schooling may still be present for Ashley. According to Ashley, “An online degree while deployed,” is an option for her as well.

For Bobby, what he is after is his major. “I came across it when I was looking into majors and programs, and really thinking about what I wanted to study in college, and I was like ‘philosophy, politics and economics, sounds pretty sweet’ and it’s almost exclusively offered in the UK.” According to Bobby, the university system in the UK is rather unique compared to America. “You basically apply for a degree, or you apply for a major rather than just applying to a school, and then you stick to that major for all four years,” he explained. “I wanted to do that because I liked the idea of sticking to one major for four years and not having to do any Gen Ed requirements with it.”

Bella has a very specific plan on what she will do with her major. “Art therapy,” stated Bella. “Which is just like normal therapy like talk therapy, except for people to work through their emotions through art. So it’s used a lot for kids, which is something that I’d like to be doing.” This decision was based on her experiences with art and how it has impacted her life. “Knowing how much art helps me mentally, especially over the pandemic and everything, it just makes me want to help other people use art as a healthy coping mechanism,” she said.

“Do you have any concerns or worries?”

Many students in Reading may consider school in California as too far away. “It’s a whole different climate and atmosphere, different types of people, different personalities,” Han noted. Despite such concerns Han can “see himself” at UC Irvine. “The beaches are really close and I could go out just about everywhere.” The current concern for Han is the high tuition cost. “We have to find some way to get in-state residency, because it’s a state school, so we can get a lower tuition,” Han said. 

“I’m kind of concerned about everything going on in the world right now,” noted Ashley. Concern regarding the war in Ukraine has spread across America these past few months, especially for those in the military, who are now on high alert. For Ashley, though, there are more personal concerns as well. “Being away from my family for long periods of time probably will be tough sometimes, as it would be for most people,” she added. As Ashley said earlier, she will be going to Missouri this coming June for basic training.

Similar to Ashley and Han, Bobby too may be far from home in the coming years. “I think my biggest worry is just being very far away from home,” stated Bobby. “Will I feel comfortable? Will I feel worried about it? I can’t know until I’m actually there. I think I’ll be fine, but you know, culture shock is a thing even when you’re just going from the US to the UK.” If Bobby attends Northeastern, he will be traveling as well. “I’d still be going to Spain for my first semester if I go to Northeastern for their NUIN program, so no matter what next year in September I will be shipping off to somewhere in Europe,” Bobby said.

While Bella’s path only requires a 25 minute drive into Boston, finances and graduate school are her concerns. “It’s extremely difficult to be a psychologist without getting your masters,” Bella said. “And Simmons doesn’t offer a masters, so I could get my bachelors there and then I’ll have to do more schooling.” Additional schooling may mean additional tuition.

“What would you tell younger students with similar interests?”

Follow your gut,” Han says. “Don’t be afraid just because it’s so far away.”

“It’s a great opportunity for anyone who’s into that kind of thing with a good mindset,” Ashley says. “I’d also recommend doing research on every branch of the military, every job. Just do as much research as possible for when you do go in.”

“If you feel confident about it, go for it,” Bobby says. “And start early and stay on top of it, because you’re going to have to do it largely on your own.”

“There’s always different things you can do with art,” Bella says. “If you still want to do it and know that you’ll be financially well, you can have an art related job and be financially well off.”

For those who may be wondering what to do in the future, there are many people in the RMHS community that can help.  A good place to start is with member of the Class of 2022, as they’ve just been through what you have in front of you.