"A lot of people I know through sports go to smaller schools in smaller towns and they don’t have the diversity and learning about other cultures and the differences that everybody has." – Isioma Enwemnwa
"Last semester I was nominated as State Youth of the Year. I had to do a speech and read it to a lot of people. It opened up this new door of public speaking that I never thought I would be good at."– Riyaaq Ahmed
"In 10 years I can see myself as a teacher. I really want to be the person that makes a difference in kids’ lives." – Loren McMahon
Graduates from across the district told us what inspires them, their hopes for the future and what their proudest accomplishments are.
"Schools could do a better job at getting the word out about the benefits of being in an honors or AP class or what you can learn in those classes." – Enjoyiana Nururdin
"At Capital High they never give up on you and they push you to do your best. My English teacher, Christine, really pushed me to believe in myself, to believe that I can do this." – Jordan Wills
We wanted to hear first-hand from some of this year’s graduates about their high school experience, their plans for their future and what we can do as a district to make our schools even better. So we brought them together. They talked, and we listened. Here’s what they told us.
How can we build on what is working in our schools to make the district even stronger?
Wei Li: I’ve been lucky. I’ve received great services related to my visual impairment. The Special Education department is working really hard for me to fight for what I need. But students with disabilities may not have the the political capital or leverage to get what they need.
Kevin: East opened their first gender-neutral bathroom on the first floor. I would be ecstatic to see a gender-neutral bathroom on every floor.
Enjoyiana: Schools could do a better job at getting the word out about the benefits of being in an honors or AP class or what you can learn in those classes.
Riyaaq: Schools in Madison should connect with other schools. We need to come together and work together to make the district a better place.
Isioma: There should be more support staff in the schools. There are people who have legitimate bonds with kids...Sometimes that’s all a student needs and they will excel.
Loren: My sophomore English teacher, Mr. Harris, really supported all of his students and made everyone in our class feel very appreciated and cared about. Seeing that in a teacher that I had really made me want to do the same thing.
Riyaaq: And it kind of creates a family. If you love a teacher, you have that bond with the teacher, you go out of your way to make them proud.
What’s something special about your high school?
Jordan: At Capital High they never give up on you and they push you to do your best. My English teacher, Christine, really pushed me to believe in myself, to believe that I can do this.
Kevin: The array of personalities and backgrounds you come across. There is a crowd for everyone and that helped me make so many genuine friendships. East is very welcoming and accepting.
Loren: Our All School Read. We read All American Boys. It was an amazing experience that we were all able to be a part of.
Riyaaq: The students are really motivated to make the school better. Last week we had a multicultural event that the whole school could participate in. So a couple students would bring food or clothes from their culture. We had a cultural walk. A lot of people participated.
Isioma: A lot of people I know through sports go to smaller schools in smaller towns and they don’t have the diversity and learning about other cultures and the differences that everybody has.
Enjoyiana: And everyone brings their own thing to the table. Like in student council, you have people from every different kind of background and their voices make a difference in the decisions.
What’s your proudest accomplishment in high school?
Wei Li: It makes me so proud to be a product of public schools.
Riyaaq: Last semester I was nominated as State Youth of the Year. I had to do a speech and read it to a lot of people. It opened up this new door of public speaking that I never thought I would be good at.
Enjoyiana: Being promoted to editor of the school newspaper last year.
Kevin: Being able to hold my ground (and grades) while going through some of my toughest years in life thus far.
Loren: Receiving a scholarship to college. It’s based on community service. I was in a club, Spartan Youth Service. I was on the board for it. I had to find different volunteer opportunities for high school kids to work with kids.
Jordan: Getting accepted into Scholars of Promise. It pays for my schooling for three years.
Isioma: First, I was first team(?) to get all conference this year for soccer. Academically, getting in National Honors Society. It shows that overall, I’m a well-rounded individual.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Jordan: Hopefully working for the Madison Fire Department or working on cars because I have a passion for cars, as well. I took interest in wanting to be a firefighter about a year ago. Just the thought of helping people in the community really interests me.
Wei Li: I would like to hope I will be happy and doing something I love.
Isioma: Hopefully working as a successful engineer. I’ve always had a passion or science and math. I took an Intro to Engineering class as a freshman. It was a college-level class. You learn a lot from math, like the ability to persevere. And I learned a lot in my AP Statistics course I took this fall. Mr. Adams showed me that I have this love for statistics and that’s what I plan to do for the rest of my life.
Loren: In 10 years I can see myself as a teacher. I really want to be the person that makes a difference in kids’ lives. This year I was a tutor at Crestwood in third and first grade classrooms there were some days where it was really not that easy, but in the end, the impact that I saw just by me like...I went to their music program, some of them who didn’t a parent there and just seeing how much that helped them just by having someone to support them...this is what I have to do.
Riyaaq: Hopefully as an emergency nurse. I’ve always wanted to be a nurse. I’m from Africa. I grew up there. I moved to America six years ago. Growing up where you see kids who are less fortunate, kids who are dying, and they don’t have the health care that we have, made me want to change that.
Kevin: I see myself working in the field of neuropsychology helping patients understand how brain malfunctions occur and what happens when they do. By understanding these problems, hopefully I can work with other doctors to treat and prevent them from happening.
Enjoyiana: So I’m going to be a journalist, right? But I also wanted to study Political Science or Sociology. So what I really want to do is have either a government focus – running for the president or [being hired as] superintendent here in Madison so that I can really make a difference here in my community. But if I was really going to be a journalist I would be the editor of a newspaper or a field journalist covering societal issues.