Cowichan Valley graduates offer advice for the future

Graduating from high school is the first major change in life that many of us face as our childhood officially ends.

Graduating from high school is the first major change in life that many of us face as our childhood officially ends.

It’s a scary time that marks the end of what is safe and familiar, but it also opens the door to the exciting possibilities and expectations of being a young adult, with all the additional responsibilities.

The Cowichan Valley Citizen took some time this week to chat with some of the graduating students in the valley.

They shared with us their plans for the next stage in their lives, and offered some advice to those who will graduate next year.


Sydney McCrea


McCrae, from Saltspring Island, has spent eight years studying at Queen Margaret’s School.

She said she has been accepted to Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, Quebec, in September and intends to study criminology and sociology.

“I haven’t decided exactly what I want my career to be, but I expect I will pursue business or go on to law school,” said McRae shortly after she finished her last exam.

“My advice to those who will graduate next year, or later, is to make sure you enjoy yourself while you are still in school. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that time goes by pretty quickly so you have to try to enjoy every minute.”

Shaina Price


Shaina Price, from Duncan, is graduating from Cowichan Secondary School.

She’s heading to Vancouver Island University in the fall to do the First Nations studies program.

Price said her goal is to become a teacher and work with First Nations youth.

She said she’s “really sad” to have completed her high school studies and face moving away from the “amazing support” she received over the years, but is looking forward to the future.

“I’d tell the kids still in high school to accept the help that is offered, because they really do care about you,” she said.


Hinako Endo


Hinako Endo, who is from Fukushima, Japan, is graduating from Queen Margaret’s School.

She will attend Fraser International College in Burnaby in September where she will study communications and art and technology.

Endo said her intent is to eventually return to Japan and begin a career as a newscaster.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned is to do the best I could with everything I did, from studies to friendships, and I would advise all the younger students to remember that,” she said


Justin Young


Duncan’s Justin Young is graduating from Cowichan Secondary School.

Young intends to study at Vancouver Island University’s Nanaimo campus in September to pursue a science degree, and intends to go on to study physiotherapy at UBC.

While at VIU, he will play for the Vancouver Island Raiders football team.

“I’d like to play professional football, but I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket,” he said.

“Students still in high school should use the resources that are available to them. They are there to help you.”


Cookie Deng


Cookie Deng, who is from Beijing, China, is graduating from Queen Margaret’s School.

She will be attending McGill University in Montreal in the fall to study to be a dietician.

Deng said she’s looking forward to immersing herself in Quebec’s culture and learning to speak French, which will make her trilingual.

“I’m nervous and excited at the same time,” she said.

“My advice to the younger kids is to enjoy themselves now while they are still young and not as busy as they will be. They should participate in as many different activities as they can, because when they get into Grade 12, they will be spending a lot more time studying and applying to universities.”


Alyssa Andress


Alyssa Andress, who is from Saltspring Island, will graduate from Queen Margaret’s School.

She has already been accepted to attend Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, in the fall where she will study environmental science.

Andress said she will either eventually go to medical school and study to be a psychiatrist, or she will enter politics, although she isn’t sure at this stage what level of politics she’s interested in, or in what capacity.

“That worked for me and I’d recommend that advice to those who will be graduating next year. Don’t fret over things and enjoy yourself. There’s so little time before you’re an adult,” she said.

Noah Charles


Noah Charles is graduating from Cowichan Secondary School and said he’s “excited” about the next stage of his life.

He has been accepted at the University of Victoria in the fall and will study for a biology degree.

Charles said his goal is to become a medical doctor, and he’s hoping to have some financial assistance from a basketball scholarship.

“Work as hard as you can,” he advised his younger peers.

“You’ll find there will be a lot more opportunities that way.”


Merryam Rizk


Rizk is graduating from Cowichan Secondary School and intends to study geography at the University of Victoria.

She said she is interested in urban planning, but that may change as her education progresses.

Rizk advised younger students to take their educations seriously.

“Focus on being good students and don’t slack off,” she said.

“It all adds up, especially in Grade 12.”

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