The future holds many challenges for today’s youth, but at least two members of Oak Bay High’s Class of 2011 plan to turn those challenges into opportunities.
Annie Cameron and Logan Graham were selected by their peers to deliver this year’s valedictory address at their June 8 graduation ceremony. Both are eagerly looking forward to the next stage of their young lives.
And what better way to enter that next stage than by standing on one.
“I’d never done any public speaking before,” said Cameron, who admits she was “very nervous” before taking the stage.
Graham, on the other hand, has lots of experience speaking in front of large groups, but had his own mountain to climb.
“I had never in my life memorized a speech,” he said. “A lot of it was more theatrical than I’ve done.”
The pair got through it, however, and given the list of goals these two have set out to achieve, that should come as no surprise.
While neither student has settled on a specific career path, both have their sights set on the world outside Vancouver Island.
Cameron will spend a year at the Bader International Studies Centre in Suffolk, England before heading to Queens University in Kingston, Ont. “It’s really exciting for me to get to travel and go to school at the same time,” she said.
Thanks to family trips to Thailand, Bali, and Belize, among other places, she was bitten by the travel bug at an early age. The passion has had an influence on her scholarly aspirations as well – she’s hoping to get into the Global Development Studies program at Queens after her year abroad.
“It excites me because it combines my two passions, travelling and human rights,” Cameron said.
That second passion opens up plenty of possible future careers.
“There’s a ton of things you can do,” she said. “NGO (non-government organization) work, working with refugees, economic and global development.”
Cameron added: “I’d really like to do volunteer work – travel and volunteer abroad.”
Graham, who is headed to the University of British Columbia to study business in the fall, is also considering a number of career options.
“Being an entrepreneur is definitely in my sights. I’d love to start my own company, give myself that freedom,” he said. “But I’ve been working with many different causes since elementary school, so an NGO would be a great fit too.”
Graham spent much of last summer in an international student program at Oxford University in England. The experience gave him an early taste of post-secondary life.
“Just being in that environment, where people learned new things and studied new things and stretched their minds, you right away get into a learning mode that isn’t something you experience in high school.”
Both students are aware they are in some ways entering a world that poses more challenges than ever before. But they are undaunted.
“It’s exciting to think about all the new technologies that will be invented,” Cameron said. “I think people need to be open-minded to new lifestyles and ways of doing things and solving problems together.”
“I’d like to study entrepreneurship and investment in less developed countries,” Graham said. He’s recently been learning about micro-credit, which involves making very small loans to people to start their own businesses.
Despite all the talk of wide-open futures and global issues, the two students are still kids at heart. Both have jobs as camp counsellors lined up for the summer: Graham swinging a tennis racket at Oak Bay Rec, Cameron teaching youngsters how to ride a bike with an organization called Pedalheads.
And according to Graham, not all of their goals are quite so serious – or long term.
“I’d like to have a water balloon fight this summer, actually.”