Soon-to-be graduates share plans following high school, demonstrating variety of future directions

Claire Ku and Shea Carlberg

When people think of seniors’ post-graduate plans, they tend to think of the traditional path the two- or four-year college plan with a career following suit. However, not all seniors desire to go down this road, or choose to do so on a different timeline. For this reason, The Wolf decided to highlight the alternative routes that some students take following graduation that all-too-often get forgotten in the clamor of college decisions.

As seniors navigate through this crucial transition in their young lives, a handful of soon-to-be graduates shared their plans following high school. In an interview with The Wolf, Tualatin High School seniors Psalm Ayers, Maya Emerson, Rachel Beddes and Geoffrey Mahmud described their future paths following graduation.


Psalm Ayers finished his time at TuHS early during his senior year, so he has known his future plan for a while, steering away from the traditional route to find his dream property and volunteer to protect wildlife. 

Q: Please describe your post-graduate plans.

Ayers: “Having been done with classes since January, I have found myself occupying the majority of my time working. My eventual plan is to be able to purchase a house as currently, a mortgage is only a few hundred dollars more than an apartment and I get to own the building (as opposed to dealing with a landlord who may or may not be unreasonable and unhelpful). During my expedition for a homestead I am also hoping to pursue what it is I want to do with my life—at least my life until I decide on something else. So far, I have decided against the traditional route of college or trade school as I do not wish to partake in the further education system (which is a multibillion-dollar industry), especially since I would be their source of income. However, I am planning on volunteering in areas where I can work with animals, such as the Newport Aquarium, because I would love to contribute to the preservation of the wildlife we have left.”

Q: What are you hoping to get out of your experience?

Ayers: “While originally I started work at Panda Express as a part-time job in order to have some spending cash, it had become more of a career for me, and for a while I was planning to pursue it further. Now I no longer wish to follow this path and by the time this is published I have probably already put in my two weeks and have moved on to somewhere I will be making more wages for less responsibility; my current location quite literally depends on me in order to function, yet I am severely underpaid, and so is my manager. Despite the negative aspects of the job, it has taught me a significant amount more about living than my four years in high school have, and I don’t regret a second of it. Before partaking in this occupation, my social skills were severely lacking as well, as [was] my confidence. Now it seems that I have gone the other way, as I appear to occasionally have a god complex (according to some).”

Q: Has the pandemic affected your post-graduate plans?

Ayers: “The pandemic has affected my post-graduate plans just as it has affected everything in life. While maybe it hasn’t directly canceled any paths I planned to take or anything of the likes, this time in the pandemic has formed me into a much different me than I was before—as I assume it did to everyone. Prior to the pandemic, there were many ideas and plans that I had that have now changed. For instance, beforehand, I had planned to attend college, although a bit uncertain of my major. I know for sure if I hadn’t had so much time by myself that I would probably have taken even longer than it did to realize that I was trans; furthermore, if the pandemic hadn’t occurred, then I don’t think that I would be able to comfortably state that in something that can be read publicly. That’s all because I think there is one valuable thing this pandemic has taught me: the most important factor in life is our connection with each other. The strongest of those connections are only going to be the most genuine connections, and why should I care about who frowns upon me when frowns are such an ugly expression to make?”


Maya Emerson will be taking a gap year after TuHS to figure out what she will want to study come college time in her following years. 

Q: What do you hope to accomplish in your gap year?

Emerson: “I’m really hoping to get clarity on what would be best for me to study in college and earn money so that when I’m ready to go into the field I’ve decided on, I’ll have the funds behind me to do so!”

Q: Could you please tell us about what your plans are following your gap year? 

Emerson: “It’s always been a huge dream of mine to attend Northwest University in Kirkland, Wash., due to it being a family tradition. After my gap year, I’m planning on applying as soon as I can.”

Q: Has the pandemic affected your post-graduate plans?

Emerson: “Not at all! In fact, it made me more confident in my decision. Before everything, I felt so behind all of my fellow classmates and friends for deciding to take a gap year…. The pandemic made me realize that I should take a step back and go into college when I’m confident in what I want to major in.”


Post-graduation, Rachel Beddes explained that she will be taking a gap year from school and filling this time with a one-and-a-half-year mission trip for her church. Following this experience, she will then be going to Brigham Young University (BYU) to continue her education. 

Q: What are you hoping to get out of your mission trip experience?

Beddes: “I’m hoping to serve and learn as much as possible on my mission. I want to help lift people up and bring them the happiness that I have felt in my life. If I serve somewhere outside of the U.S., I’ll be eager to learn about a new culture! I can’t wait to help those around me in any way possible!”

Q: Why did you decide to do a mission trip?

Beddes: “I decided to go on a mission in order to serve others and help them learn about Christ and His love for them.”

Q: Has the pandemic affected your post-graduate plans?

Beddes: “Luckily, the pandemic hasn’t affected my mission trip plans, but it did affect others I know. I have friends that put off their missions for a year so that they could serve without restrictions, and I know others that were originally serving out of the country, but had to come back to the U.S. due to COVID.”


Geoffrey Mahmud will be serving in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from TuHS, which he has been interested in for quite some time. 

Q: What made you want to serve in our U.S. Marine Corps? 

Mahmud: “In the summer, I researched a lot of colleges, sifting through the endless letters and emails. Eventually, I received a call from my recruiter, which was a first: a call instead of a copy-paste letter. After talking with him in person, the benefits and conditions proved very enticing, and thus I signed in with the U.S. Marine Corps.”

Q: What role do you foresee yourself filling in the Marines?

Mahmud: “Before I even signed in, I was informed of all the roles within the Corps, and I had to select a few, which would then be selected for me by higher-ups, very similar to forecasting at TuHS. Once I graduate from boot camp, my role will be that of Logistics, which is essentially the management and coordination of supplies and people.”

Q: Has the pandemic affected your post-graduate plans?

Mahmud: “Ultimately, the pandemic has not affected my post-graduate plans. I don’t think I would have chosen something other than the Marines if there wasn’t a pandemic, as my reasons for joining have nothing to do with the pandemic. Any effects on my post-graduate plans from the pandemic are not known to me and may simply be coincidence if they exist.”


The Class of 2021 reveals a diversity of paths ahead in their future endeavors, and The Wolf couldn’t be more excited to see all that they will accomplish. Even a global pandemic has not stopped these seniors from dreaming big this year and for years to come. Best wishes to all of the soon-to-be TuHS graduates!