With school fast approaching, I am preparing for a busy and exciting senior year.

Although it will pain me to give up sleeping in and binge-watching Stranger Things, I am actually looking forward to going back to school — mainly because I cannot wait to graduate. It feels great to finally be a senior, and I plan to make my last year in York my best as I take several important steps toward a future career.

The first time I ever thought about college and careers was in kindergarten, when someone first asked me the big question: What do you want to do when you grow up? For five- year-old me, it was simple; I wanted to be an astronaut. However, I would later be amazed by how many times interests will change in a decade or so.

After being hospitalized with pneumonia and undergoing a life-saving lung surgery, I attended my Kindergarten career dress-up day as a pediatric surgeon, dressed in scrubs and carrying my plastic doctor’s kit.

First grade found me watching the History channel show MonsterQuest and explaining to my mom that I wanted to be a cryptozoologist — someone who studies legendary, if not a bit far-fetched, creatures like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. After the disappointing realization that the scariest creature around was my hungry cat, it was on to dinosaurs, which I became obsessed with for several years. I still have a small fossil collection, along with the magazine The Cellars of Time that I received at Morrill Hall from York’s own highway paleontologist Shane Tucker.

Currently, I am interested in psychology and linguistics. This year, I am excited to be taking three foreign languages (maybe four if I count Calculus). One of the perks of being a senior is that now that nearly all of my graduation requirements are met, I can focus more on classes that I enjoy. I am also happy that some of the “heavy lifting” is out of the way with the ACT being done. As I enter the college admissions process, it is time for the work I have put in during my entire school career to pay off. I will be very busy writing essays, submitting applications, and keeping up on my last year of high school classes. I will also be enjoying my final year with my classmates, as well as my last year at home — my little brother will be sad when he realizes that this is the last year he can bug me.

After the flurry of applications, acceptances, denials, scholarships, and senior year shenanigans, I will have several big decisions to make. Where am I going to go to college? What will I study in college? What do I want to do after college? As a young child, it was easy to answer with absolute certainty; now that the time is finally here, the decisions seem harder to make. Perhaps that is because now that I am older, I understand the possibility of failure or disappointment. What I must remember is that these are possibilities in any major, at any college, on any career path — the key is to make the most out of the situation and rise to the occasion when challenges come. As I face these decisions and others throughout my life, there is no reason to be afraid; rather, I must keep moving forward, doing what is right and following my dream. It has always been my dream to attend a prestigious university, and I will do everything I can to make that dream a reality. I also have always wanted to see the world, which is why I plan to pursue my interest in languages. While I may not know exactly what career I want to pursue, there is virtually no limit to what a higher education could bring.

I have come a long way in my 16 years, and while I am still disappointed that “Mad Scientist” and “Indiana Jones” are apparently not career choices, I am excited to see where the next few years of my life take me. As I buckle up for the last chapter of my high school years, I want to enjoy my time with family and friends as well, and no matter where I decide to go or what I decide to do, one thing I have already decided: I want to make the best of myself and a better world.

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