Archive for Thursday, May 14, 2009

Summer not a time to relax for two EHS grads

May 14, 2009

For many high school graduates, summer break is a time to relax before taking on the next stage life has to offer— whether that means college or entering the workforce.

But for Ben Katzenmeier and JoAnna Male, who will graduate Saturday from Eudora High School, it will be a time to prepare for the challenges to come.

For Katzenmeier, the challenges will be both academic and physical. He has accepted a four-year scholarship to Pittsburg State University where he will take part in the ROTC program.

“I’ve always thought about the military as a career choice,” he said. “How many people get to drive a tank, fly a helicopter and get paid for it?”

He will major in computer science or software engineering and minor in military science. When he graduates, he will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army.

“What it comes down to is it will be like basic training, but with college classes,” Katzenmeier explained.

His scholarship will pay for all books and tuition, as well as give him a $300 monthly stipend that will increase each year.

Katzenmeier said the fact that he will finish college, have a job to go to and incur little to no debt was important to him.

“It’s a big load off — having almost my entire college paid off just from one scholarship,” he said. “A lot of people have been freaking out and not sleeping at this time of year, but I got it all taken care of last semester.”

Some of his friends have asked if he’s concerned about the possibility of having to go to war. He said it just comes with the territory.

“If it happens, it’s part of the job,” Katzenmeier said. “I knew about it going in. Plus, I’m not going to be going into it as a high school senior. I’d be going in prepared and ready for it, and hopefully better off than the people I’m going against.”

Acceptance into the program was based on his grades, citizenship and passing a physical test.

“Ben is committed to his future and his education,” EHS counselor Paul Walrod said. “This commitment he is making to college and his country seems to be a great fit for him.”

For JoAnna Male, the 2009 EHS valedictorian, this summer could possibly be busier than last year when — among many other things — she began research in the chemical engineering department at Kansas University.

At least this school year hasn’t allowed her to get too comfortable.

“Senior year has been crazy,” Male said.

Male made several college visits this year and will either attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology or the University of Pittsburgh.

Attending MIT would put her in an elite group, as only about 10 percent of this year’s 15,661 applicants were accepted. However, the University of Pittsburgh would give her a full ride for all four years.

If she does attend Pitt, she hopes to transfer to MIT for her Junior year.

She will major in both political science and chemical engineering.

Male said she would need to begin new research this summer if she wanted to attend MIT. She also will volunteer at a 4-H camp, participate in the Douglas County 4-H Fair and Adventure Scouts of Lawrence.

All of the college visits she made during the late part of the school year caused her to want to move on.

“Earlier in the year I thought, ‘Wow, this is our last year,’” Male said. “Now, I’m ready for it to be done — it’s time, you know. It’s been four years.”

EHS social studies instructor Bill DeWitt , who will speak at Saturday’s graduation ceremony, said he has been impressed with Male’s work.

“Her work ethic is outstanding,” DeWitt said. “She pushes herself beyond expectation and does not settle for second-rate assignments. She is a student that can challenge me intellectually, and I appreciate that. She keeps me on my toes.”

Though both students said they were more than ready to see what the world outside Eudora has to offer, they both said they had fond memories of the town in which they grew up and would miss the community.

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