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Seniors look to their futures in college, in the military and in the workforce

May 14, 2018

A heart for medicine

In a few seconds of silence, senior Rana Ekilah stands anxiously holding her mother’s hand. She scrolls through her phone looking to see if she made it into her dream college program. The silence quickly breaks as Ekilah screams “I’m accepted! I got in!” She cries and hugs her mother in disbelief. 

Out of more than a thousand applicants, Ekilah was one of 106 people accepted into the 6-year combined Bachelors MD program at UMKC, in which she will be majoring in liberal arts with a minor in chemistry while working towards her Medical degree.

“I’m just super ecstatic that I get to attend this program and represent my school in such a great way because it has been almost seven years since someone from Tonka has been able to attend this program,” Ekilah said. “It’s also great because I’ll be the first doctor on my mom’s side of the family, as well as the first female doctor on my dad’s side. That’s really important for me.”

Ekilah attributes this success to being motivated throughout high school and to her prioir experience with medicine.

“I kept a 4.0 GPA. I started taking medical classes this year, and being suddenly involved in AP helped a lot as well just to show them that I was involved in a lot of college work,” Ekilah said. “Also, just maintaining a lot of involvement in other activities to show that I can balance things well and I also shadowed at the hospital last summer. That experience as well really solidified my interest in the medicine but also showed the committee that selected me how committed toward medicine I am.”

This interest in medicine all started when she was young.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I always loved the idea of playing doctor,” Ekilah said. “And I think it probably came from my mom because she was a nurse and so are my other aunts. I was constantly surrounded by the idea of medicine and working with patients and for some reason I was so intrigued about it.”

For awhile, Ekilah was unsure of what to do for her future. It wasn’t until her junior year, when her father had a heart attack, that she committed to medicine.

“Fortunately but unfortunately… my dad had a very severe heart attack and to that experience with him, seeing doctors work with him and come together to save his life multiple times was very enlightening,” Ekilah said. “The summer afterwards I shadowed at a hospital and it really just solidified my love for medicine and how much I really wanted to do it.”

After going through that experience with her father, shadowing at a hospital, taking AP classes, taking medical classes, filling out the application and being interviewed 11 times, Ekilah was able to sigh in relief knowing that everything she had overcome and accomplished had been worth it.

“I had a very rough year the year before then, and so whenever I found out that I was accepted after thinking that I wasn’t because it was so highly competitive, I literally started breaking down in tears and hugging my mom,” Ekilah said. “I didn’t know what to think at first. I didn’t think it was real. I still don’t think it’s real.”

Graphic by Jessica Glaszczak

Philosophy of a job

“Money can’t buy me love” is a Beatles quote that senior Dylan Chumley takes to heart and uses in his philosophy that a job is simply for economic stability while achieving happiness comes elsewhere. 

“As Mike Rowe says ‘Your job is just a job. It’s just meant to be a job. You’re supposed to do it, get paid, and you’ll find your happiness somewhere else, in doing something else,’” Chumley said.

Chumley has decided to make his own path by going into the workforce rather than going to college. 

“My parents pushed college on me for a very long time and from about eighth grade on, I told them it’s not what I wanted,” Chumley said. “I felt pressure to do something that wasn’t something I wanted to do. And because of that I thought that since there’s always opportunities, doors opening and doors closing, I can find those doors instead of being pushed through the one that absolutely everyone else is being crammed into.”

According to Chumley, the opportunities in the workforce allow for someone to be successful financially.

“Grainger for instance; it’s kind of a manufacturing distribution center, so the Amazon of other stores if you would,” Chumley said. “They have full benefits, they start you off at 15 dollars an hour, which is three dollars under what my mom makes after she has four college degrees. There are managers there, ‘leads,’ in different departments of it that make up to 30 dollars an hour. That’s very well-off compared to what other people I know make.”

Chumley believes that there are more opportunities for him in the workforce than in college. 

“I just see opportunities there [in the workforce] that represent how life actually is with doors opening and closing compared to just being stuck in a job because you put four college degrees into it when maybe you don’t end up liking it,” Chumley said. “While if I go into a job like this, the experience l gain from there can lead me to other jobs, other doors. And I feel like that’s more worthwhile than other such paths.”

Chumley is considering going to the east coast to get a job doing manual labor at an airport, where the benefits are good and the pay is steady. 

Back to the future

At the Cahokia mounds in Illinois nearly ten years ago, senior Helen Wesner excavates a small mole bone from the ground during archeology day. Now, Wesner is looking forward to her future as a bioarchaeologist.

Though Wesner’s love for bioarchaeology started with her visit to the Cahokia mounds, she also attributes her love for bioarchaeology to her AP Art History class.

“[Bioarchaeology is] the study of ancient human beings and how they lived and how they died…” Wesner said. “AP Art History kind of influenced that because it’s a lot of history and I love history.”

In order to afford going to college to earn a degree in bioarchaeology, Wesner plans on going into the military as an aviation mechanic. Many of Wesner’s relatives have been in the military, which is another reason for joining.

“They will pay for all of my college,” Wesner said. “I used to work a lot on cars with my dad, so putting that into an aviation spectrum is kind of cool. I can’t be a pilot because my eyesight is really messed up.”

Wesner’s interest in travel also contributes to her love of bioarchaeology. 

“I’m debating whether I’m going to stay here in America or go over to the Mediterranean,” Wesner said. “[Traveling is] another reason why I want to do it [bioarchaeology]. My ultimate dream is to go to Pompeii and excavate… because everything is preserved so well.”

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