Jenks High School
Attending: University of Pennsylvania
Intended major: Business Law at the Wharton Undergraduate School of Business and Anthropology at the College of Arts and Sciences. I have always been interested in understanding other people and their own unique world views and cultures, but as I have grown older I’ve developed a special interest in understanding discrimination and oppression. I hope to study anthropology and law, and eventually attend law school.
Biggest influence: My relationships with three teachers and mentors: Mike Horn, Karen Workun and Paula Dennis. These teachers ignited within me a love of learning, in and outside the classroom, and encouraged me to take advantage of opportunities to get involved in my high school community.
Proudest achievement: I had the unique opportunity to conduct independent academic research twice, organize the only student organized TEDx Youth event in the region, and win three state championship titles. However, what meant the most to me was the opportunity to work closely with one of my teachers, Karen Workun, to organize an affinity group called the Equality Alliance. During my junior and senior years of high school, we hosted monthly meetings to discuss current events, policy changes and other topics relating to equality and social justice and, most importantly, managed to form a community of our own where everyone’s voices and opinions were welcomed.
I would trade places for one day with: Ernest Hemingway. He is not only one of my favorite writers, but he lived such an interesting life.
Unique characteristics: My father passed away from cancer when I was 13 years old, and ever since his passing, I have understood, to what I believe to be a greater degree than most others my age, that life does not last forever. This realization has served as fuel for much of my ambition throughout the years.
Hobbies and passions: Music. I have been heavily involved in my high school’s choir, show choir and musical theatre programs for years, and have won multiple statewide and national awards and honors through these programs.
Surprising fact: I can do the splits!
Carolina Hampton Pardo
Attending: Princeton University
Intended major: Philosophy. I plan to attend law school, so I was looking for a good foundation in logic and reasoning.
Biggest influence: Mr. Banecker, my senior year English teacher. He pushed me to develop individual opinions and analyses of literature and taught me how to be intellectually curious. He formed me into the writer and thinker I am today.
Proudest achievement: Receiving the Alumni Award at Casady graduation. My older sister, Isabela, also won the award when she graduated from Casady, so I was very proud and honored to receive the same achievement she did.
Career plans: I plan to go to law school to study tribal law. From there, I plan to work with Native American communities to grant them better access to healthcare and sexual education in their school systems.
I would trade places for one day with: The famous film director Wes Anderson. I am very curious to see how he views the world and where he draws artistic inspiration for his pastel movie style.
Twenty years down the line, I would like to be: Established in my career. I would like to set up a nonprofit organization aimed at reducing the teen pregnancy rate within American Indian communities. I would like to have a family as well.
Hobbies and passions: I love cinema and art history. Delving into and exploring various mediums of art is always something I have been very drawn to. I also love baking pies for my family.
Surprise fact: My favorite food of all time is pickles, but it has to be the Claussen brand.
Bonus tidbit: Since I am the shortest member and the baby of my family, everyone calls me Teeny.
Cascia Hall Preparatory School
Attending: Stanford University
Intended major: Film & Media and Economics. I love film and find it fascinating as a freeing and innovative medium of art. Naturally, the film industry is still a business, so I want to understand the finance and functional side of it.
Biggest influence: Of all my influences, my parents have given me a great example as hard workers.
Proudest achievement: There is absolutely nothing like walking across that stage at the end of it all. Being handed that diploma made all the tests, assignments and late-night study sessions worth it. At my graduation, I was able to give the farewell speech, which really helped me see how beautiful the past seven years at Cascia truly were.
Career plans: I would love to one day work as a producer and writer in film. I have already started writing and acting for films when I can.
I would trade places for one day with: Donald Glover. He is definitely my celebrity idol. Whether comedy, music, writing or acting, Glover has done everything he set his mind to when it comes to entertainment. I love to be surprised by how his mind goes beyond just one medium of art.
Twenty years down the line, I would like to: Surprise myself. Of course, this is an extremely broad description of one’s future. However, what I really mean is that I want to create something that tells me, “I might have what it takes to keep going.”
Unique characteristics: I can easily mix in different environments. As a very social person, I love to meet new people, and naturally I love to talk.
Hobbies and passions: I love to write, act and of course, watch movies. One of my favorite activities is just watching movies with my family. As an actor and future filmmaker, the best way to perfect your craft is to practice and see how others use their skills on the screen. I also love singing – I participate in activities that allow me to sing whenever I can. It is just another escape that allows me to express myself.
Riverfield Country Day School
Attending: Spelman College
Intended major: Biology. I love to learn about science and how the world works, and I’d love to pursue medicine in my future.
Biggest influence: I think my father is my biggest influence because he works so hard and I want to become like him. I like to think I’m a mini him because I like his music, play the sports he likes, and I play the bass guitar like he does.
Proudest achievement: Receiving the Carole Robertson award from my organization, Jack and Jill of America Inc. It also came with a trophy and $1,000.
Career plans: I’d like to become a pediatrician. I love to help children, and in my free time work in a daycare. And since I love science, pediatrics seems perfect.
I would trade places for one day with: Blue Ivy, Beyoncé’s daughter, so that I could spend the day with Beyoncé and watch her perform.
Twenty years down the line, I would like to be: In a beautiful house with land and have beautiful children, and have a career that I love.
Unique characteristics: I am very empathetic and caring, but I think I’m also a natural leader and I love opening up and making new friends and meeting people.
Hobbies and passions: I love to paint and read, and I work part time as a dental assistant and a teacher in an infant class at a daycare.
Surprising fact: I have four cats, two dogs, a turtle and a chinchilla.
Additional tidbit: I have been playing bass guitar since fifth grade and it’s one of my biggest passions besides painting. I’ve performed at the Cain’s Ballroom eight times.
Julian Felix Aaronson
Holland Hall School
Attending: New York University, Tisch School of the Arts
Intending major: Film and Television. In art, you can have the absolute worst idea according to one person and that same idea can be seen as genius to the next person. It’s a controversial world. What makes film making so special to me is the combination of every art medium into one – making film making the most controversial medium possible. I like that each person can sit for two hours watching a movie, and every person will have a different perspective of the film, whether that is hatred, love, connectivity or rejection of the same compilation of images and sound. The riskiness of film making is so extremely interesting that I can’t help but major in it.
Biggest influence: People who make, act and do with the overarching goal of staying authentic to themselves. There is a long list of names but the only ones that I feel I must include are my Mom, Dad, Ari Aster, the Daniels and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
Proudest achievement: Completing my short film The External-Internal Monologue of an Interdependent Insomniac. This was the first thing I had made without the goal of impressing people – just a film for myself.
Career plans: After I work in the film industry for a while, I will apply to be an FBI agent. To supplement that goal, I will likely need to have a career in something other than film, so I may explore the finance world a bit. After my time in the FBI, I will do a season of the show Survivor. After that psychological torture, I would like to go to culinary school, just so I know a thing or two about how to make a good tomato bisque. Then, I will really settle into the film world. I might teach a college course here and there – it’s always been a dream of mine – but ultimately I will end my working life as a filmmaker.
Twenty years down the line, I would like to be: On the Oscars stage.
Hobbies and passions: Filmmaking, writing, and I can cook a good steak.
Moriah Starr Chambers
Augustine Christian Academy
Attending: Rogers State University
Intended major: Business management. I think that it’s a good baseline for anything I want to do in the future.
Biggest influence: My sister, Micah, because she always helps me and encourages me to excel in everything I do.
Proudest achievement: Being valedictorian of my class.
Career plans: I’m very interested in becoming an events coordinator.
I would trade places for one day with: I don’t think I would trade places with anyone because I love being myself and I am exactly who I am meant to be. I can’t think of anyone I would rather be.
Twenty years down the line, I would like to be: Married with a family and a business.
Unique characteristics: I have an old soul, a dry sense of humor and great work ethic.
Hobbies and passions: I enjoy painting, fishing and theatre.
Surprising fact: I have been puppeteering for ten years, I have seven chickens, and I have been in twenty musicals.
Bonus tidbits: I have a large collection of animal bones that I have found or been gifted over the years and I have an interest in osteology. I also do volunteer work for the Penguin Project, a theater group for people with special needs.
Litseg Krissel Del Val Rodriguez
Thomas Edison Preparatory High School
Attending: The University of Oklahoma
Intended major: Biology. I have always loved science. Since I can remember, learning about life has always fascinated me.
Biggest influence: My parents. They came to the U.S. with nothing. All they wanted was for my sisters and I to live the best lives possible. All I do is for them. If it weren’t for their sacrifice, I would have never found myself typing out answers for a questionnaire to be put in a magazine.
Proudest achievement: Academically and career wise, it has been completing a medical assisting program. Through Tulsa Tech, I was able to get a head start in the medical field, which will be crucial to my future career. Personally, it’s being a godmother to my beautiful niece, Milana Moon.
I would trade places for one day with: Lana Del Rey. She has changed so many lives through her music; I want to experience what that feels like. I am also not the best singer, so actually being able to sing well for a day would be amazing.
Twenty years down the line, I would like to be: Firstly, done with school and a licensed and practicing physician assistant. But more importantly, traveling. My heart calls to explore the world.
Unique characteristics: I always get told I am very mature for my age. Which is true. Being a first generation Mexican-American, I found myself having to grow up faster than my peers.
Hobbies and passions: I love photography. I personally prefer to take pictures with Polaroids or film as opposed to taking them with a “modern” digital camera. I just feel like it gives pictures a warmer look to them. I do enjoy “living in the moment,” but I prefer having a tangible object that can transport me back into that memory. I also really enjoy working with flowers – planting them, wearing them, looking at them.
Surprising fact: I have never broken a bone or had a cavity. I am really proud about that. Unfortunately, during a weak moment in my life, my gallbladder decided to call it quits and I can no longer say I have never had surgery.
Union High School
Attending: Harvard University
Intended major: Computer science. My interest began when I was ten, attempting to create video games. Since then, the field has been a place of continued interest and even beauty at times.
Biggest influence: My sister, Nikki. We’re the polar opposites of each other in almost every way, and instead of causing conflict, I think that opposition has given both of us a broader, more whole perspective.
Proudest achievement: I’d struggle to choose between becoming a U.S. Presidential Scholars Program Semifinalist and being named Mr. Union. U.S. PSP is a highly selective distinction on a national scale; Oklahoma only had 10 semifinalists this year. Mr. Union is an award that UHS gives to one male senior based on GPA, student vote, teacher vote and teacher recommendation. Being named Mr. Union expressed to me that I was able to leave a good impression and make a positive impact on the students and staff at Union.
Career plans: I’d like to be a professor! It would be the perfect way to further explore my love for education, research and computers.
I would trade places for one day with: My dogs. They just lay around and do nothing all day, and I think that sounds quite nice.
Unique characteristics: I think my exceptional lack of navigational ability is truly special. Even in my senior year, I’d still occasionally get lost wandering the halls of my high school. I have to use Google Maps to get to the Walmart that’s, like, two miles away from my house.
Hobbies and passions: Research, education and computer science are my three biggest passions. Almost all the things I do outside of school are motivated by one or more of those passions, like teaching coding classes, making projects and uploading them to my YouTube channel, tutoring math and leading tech-oriented student organizations. I’ve been able
to turn a couple of those passions into a job this
summer, working as a part-time data science researcher at TU.
Bishop Kelley High School
Attending: The University of Notre Dame
Intended major: Finance. I think it’s an extremely valuable skill to be able to help people manage their assets.
Biggest influence: Definitely Christ. He has blessed me with people in my life who show me His unconditional love and selflessness. My grandparents
immigrated to the United States during the Vietnam War and made a good life for their family in Oklahoma, so they have taught me the value of working hard. The same goes for my mom and dad, who have always emphasized the value of integrity.
Proudest achievement: Being selected as the 2023 Jim Thorpe Player of the Year for girl’s golf.
Career plans: A corporate lawyer, with a possible side hustle as an author.
I would trade places for one day with: Leonardo DaVinci during the Renaissance in Italy.
Twenty years down the line, I would like to be: At a point where I can give back to the people and the communities that positively impacted and lifted me up. Being able to help people, especially kids and teens, follow their dreams would be incredibly fulfilling.
Unique characteristics: I’m an old soul. I don’t have a fear of missing out when I know I need to stay home and work on school or sports. I’m also not afraid to get out of my comfort zone and take risks.
Hobbies and passions: I love being active, whether it be playing a sport, running or hiking. I also have a passion for reading and writing that developed from a young age.
Bonus tidbits: As a toddler, my grandparents would care for me. They spoke Vietnamese and taught me Vietnamese songs. So when I went home with my mom, I would have full-blown conversations with her saying both the English and Vietnamese words.
Mingo Valley Christian
Attending: Oklahoma Baptist University
Intended major: Social studies – secondary
Biggest influence: My mom, Kelly Shoop, and mentor, Rachel Keeney. My mom and mentor are history teachers from Mingo Valley Christian, and I have
had the privilege to be in both of their classes through the years. They each teach with passion
and eloquence, while also integrating a Biblical
perspective on their studies of history. I have been greatly influenced by both of these women, so
much so that I desire to follow in their footsteps and continue to educate future students on the fascinating subject of history, particularly from a Biblical worldview.
Proudest achievement: When I was cast as Belle in my school’s production of Beauty and the Beast. I was extremely honored to have been cast in such a major role. I could not have accomplished this without the mentorship of my grandfather, encouragement from my vocal teacher and influence from my director.
Career plans: I would love to teach world history to secondary age students!
I would trade places for one day with: A pigeon in New York. I can only imagine the bizarre sights those pigeons see in just one day living in New York City. I also would love to be able to fly for a day.
Twenty years down the line, I would like to be: Successfully through college, with a family and working a job I am passionate about – educating the younger generations.
Unique characteristics: I am witty, meek and honest.
Hobbies and passions: My hobbies are acting, singing, and embroidery.
Surprising fact: I would love to travel the world at some point during my lifetime. Since I want to be a world history teacher, I would like to see various historical sites around the world.
Oklahoma School of Science & Mathematics
Attending: Vanderbilt University
Intended major: Biochemistry. I took a biochem class in high school, and although it absolutely wrecked my sleeping schedule, I loved every part of the curriculum.
Biggest influence: Aside from my parents, probably the friends I made at boarding school. Without their constant support and encouragement, I wouldn’t be half the person I am today.
Proudest achievement: Completing my internship at the OU College of Pharmacy! Though my research ultimately failed to produce the results I expected, I’m really proud of myself for the time and effort I put into gaining firsthand laboratory and research experience.
Career plans: I’d love to go into some type of IP [intellectual property] law.
I would trade places for one day with: Maximilien Robespierre (though hopefully not during his execution). I’m fascinated with the French Revolution, especially with the Reign of Terror, so I’d love to get a glimpse into the mind of one of the Terror’s primary orchestrators. Plus, I just think that cravats and powdered wigs are pretty cool fashion choices.
Twenty years down the line, I would like to be: Genuinely happy and satisfied with whatever my life is like. I would like to be fully confident in the decisions I’ve made, regardless of if those decisions were objectively good or bad.
Unique characteristics: The specific mix of luck, hard work and support that gives me the ability and motivation to pursue my goals.
Hobbies and passions: I love creating digital art! My favorite thing to paint is historical clothing, specifically baroque- and rococo-style menswear. I love it because I get to combine my passion for art with my love for fashion history.
Surprising fact: I love cicadas! I used to let them rest on my head as I drew outside.
Metro Christian Academy
Attending: Oklahoma State University
Intended major: Nutritional sciences. Nutrition has become a huge part of my life and I hope to help teach others that food is medicine.
Biggest influence: The Lord. God is the foundation of my life and has been the consistent light that guides me through every moment, good and bad.
Proudest achievement: Receiving the Girl Athlete of the Year award at Metro Christian. Learning how to overcome self-doubt and continue to work diligently during my high school sports career made receiving this award such an honor, because it is a reflection of the growth and consistency that took years to achieve.
Career plans: I plan to become a registered dietitian and specialize in sports nutrition or functional nutrition.
I would trade places for one day with: Guy Fieri, the host of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, because I think it would be super fun to drive around in a convertible and try some of America’s greatest food.
Twenty years down the line, I would like to be: In a stable job as a registered dietitian, either working with athletes or having opened my own practice. I also hope to be raising a family.
Unique characteristics: My adaptability. I am able to read situations well, learn things quickly and adjust accordingly.
Hobbies and passions: I love to bake. I have always had a sweet tooth and baking allows me to make exactly what I am craving!
Surprising fact: I love high-adrenaline activities like roller coasters and jet skis. I think it is one of the reasons why I love sports so much.
All photos courtesy the student aside from Zachary Kirchoff (photo by Maurice Storm) and Elle Stanger (photo by Ervin Photography)