Alumni advise soon to be graduates

Posted on: Jan 12, 2024

Alumni advise soon to be graduates

Ten Delano Public School alumni returned to campus to share their stories and to talk to current 11th and 12th-grade students about life after Delano High School.  


The counselors at the high school spearheaded the event. “We were excited to allow current Juniors and Seniors to learn from recent Alumni's wisdom and experience,” said Ryan Tool, Delano High School Counselor. “Hearing from students just a few years older than them adds a different level of credibility for our students.”

The former students, Lauren Scanlon (23), Caden Zens (23), Justin Zens (23), Peder Bjorklund (22), Andrew Gilliland (22), Logan Plese (23), Lilia Melcom (23), Nathan Sladek (20), Maria Molitor (20), and Gavin Voight (23) talked about managing money, joining the workforce, higher education, and the importance of time management.

Tool and freshman and sophomore student counselor Cassidy Nelson, asked the first few questions to kick-off the event. Participants were able to use their phones to submit their questions. 

Molitor said after she graduated from high school she learned how to manage money and how much insurance costs. “Learn how to invest,” said Molitor. Voight, who chose a career/military pathway, advised students to stop eating fast food. “Eating fast food all the time is expensive.” 


Gilliland and Plese talked about the benefits of working for a company that has a tuition reimbursement program. Both alumni are in an apprentice program for a company that pays for them to go to school twice a week and work three days a week. 


Several of the panelists who chose to continue their education encouraged students to think broadly and to consider different pathways. Gilliland, an accounting major who wants to open his own gym, told students “your passion can be different than your major. You need to find a major that will help you get to where you want to go.” Sladek agreed and encouraged students to “turn their hobbies into a job.”

When asked about the differences between college classes and high school classes, the panelists all agreed transitioning from learning in a classroom to learning in an auditorium takes time to adjust. “Going from a classroom with 30 people and a really good teacher who knows you and wants you to do well, to sitting in an auditorium with 200 students where nobody knows you can be kind of hard,” said nursing student Scanlon. “But you get used to it and it gets better.” 


The alumni also shared their experiences with establishing friendships after high school. “Making friends in college is like being a kindergartener, admitted Scanlon. “you have to put yourself out three. You think you find a friend group and you find out it is not a good fit and you have to find new friends. It can be hard at first, but you will find a new friend group.” Virtually from St. Cloud, Molitor added, “you have to get involved in groups in college.” Molitor said she was involved in investment and Christian groups. “Age doesn't matter in college. You will make friends with people who are older and younger than you but  have the same interests as you. And that's what's important.” 

When it came time to discuss what part of high school most prepared each alum for college life, the answers across the panel were the same: take advantage of the College In School (CIS) classes. “Take CIS Chemistry in high school,” advised J. Zens. “You don't want to take chemistry in college.”  


The panel spoke for approximately 45 minutes and needed more time to answer all of the questions from students. However, the panelists were willing to respond to questions via email after the event.


“Having a variety of alumni helped highlight that every student has a different story and path so it takes some thought and planning to figure out what is right for you,” said Tool. “I think our alumni were able to bring into awareness some topics after graduating our students should be thinking about.”