Seniors take on a new challenge

Joining the work force

As countless seniors prepare to set off for college, others are dodging the traditional route and jumping into the workforce. 

Hanna Kessinger plans to start off her first year out of high school working at Paw Works, an animal rescue shelter. 

Growing up with three dogs, three cats and a lizard, Kessinger’s love for animals started from a young age. This love played a crucial role in Kessinger’s choices finishing high school. 

Pose – Hanna Kessinger, senior, has had a love for animals since she was young. Her dream is to become a vet so that she can help more animals in the future. Hanna Kessinger/With Permission

“I really want to become a vet later, but it definitely is a problem with money. So I want to work for a little while, see if I can get enough money to go to a good college with a good veterinary program. I basically just really want to save up and be able to get my own place and have a little bit of my own life before going to school again,” Kessinger said. 

Kessinger has volunteered at Paw Works since she was 13 and got her first job there when she was a freshman. “I am a sales associate. I help people look for the right animal that they want for their family and then I just take care of animals. So I feed them. If I need to clean up after them, I do. If some of them need vaccinations or stitches removal, I can do that as well,” Kessinger said. 

After accumulating four years of work experience, Kessinger has noticed how she has benefited personally. “The biggest thing I learned was how to just voice my opinion and talk to people in a comfortable way, because I was definitely very shy throughout high school. I just kind of stayed in my shell and that’s why I definitely took up this opportunity because I never really put myself out there as much in high school,” Kessinger said. 

As Kessinger continues to pursue her passion at Paw Works, she also continues to create new goals and expectations for herself.  

“I think I want to hopefully become a manager for Paw Works and be more involved. I want to put my name out there and just see where I can go with helping animals and just being kind of a voice for them,” Kessinger said. 

Taking a break

After working through twelve years of school, some seniors need a break from schoolwork, choosing to take a year in which they live their lives independent of any classes before pursuing a higher education. Kelli Thykeson, senior, is one of the many individuals taking a gap year, seeking time to think for herself and gain some clarity on her future.

“I need a break. I’m not 100% sure what I want to do yet, so hopefully taking a break will help me think about what I want to do. I have ideas, but I’m just not sure,” Thykeson said.

Smile – Kelli Thykeson is currently staying at home and practicing digital art on her new iPad. She plans to get better at this new media of art with all the new practice time available. Kelli Thykeson/With Permission

Thykeson was not influenced in her decision to take a gap year by COVID-19. She says she has known since freshman year that doing this would be what’s best for her.

“My plan was always to do the first three years of high school and end my senior year early. I just wanted to finish as fast as I could because I really needed a break.”

After this year, Thykeson hopes to register at Moorpark College, where she will pursue art, hoping to transfer to CalArts. 

“I’ve been drawing my entire life, and I guess after I finished senior year, I knew I needed to have something in my mind as an option. I was thinking about doing something with animals, but then I realized how I’ve been doing art all my life and I don’t suck at it so I can go that route. I think it’s very relaxing and you can literally do anything with it,” Thykeson said.

Thykeson is pursuing a sort of unusual approach to a gap year, wanting to still work through the summer doing Moorpark classes so she can fully enjoy herself during her favorite season, autumn. However, the current COVID-19 pandemic may place a dent in her plans.

“I’m motivated now (to go to college), and if this wasn’t happening, I’d have a job. I was planning on going to Moorpark in the summer because fall time is my favorite and I really wanted to have a break in the fall, but then this happened so I’m just kind of winging it now.”

As for right now, Thykeson is doing what she loves: art.

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