The latest in an interview series with Ferndale School District Superintendent Dr. Linda Quinn features Ferndale High School senior Ellie Elefson.
LQ: Hi, Ellie. Thank you so much for joining me to talk about your time as a student in Ferndale and about what is next for you in the coming years.
EE: Thank you for inviting me!
LQ: I want to start by asking you to reflect a bit on the past. Tell me a bit about your story as a student.
EE: One of my most valuable experiences was in Ms. Perry’s Aquaculture class. I had a lot of freedom to set up independent projects, stay after school and pursue things that interested me. Ms. Perry really encouraged me to research and try new things. That experience had a big impact on my goals and interest in science.
LQ: You have been a part of the student body in Ferndale your whole academic career to this point. Would you share about a class or experience that had a big impact on shaping your dreams and goals for the future?
EE: I knew I was interested in science from a really early age. I will say that Ms. Zender’s AP Biology class in my Junior year was a pivotal point for me. I learned bio-ethics and gene traits in that class and became very inspired to continue pursuing science.
LQ: I have another question about your experience here in Ferndale. Are there classes or experiences that you wish you would have pursued but didn’t?
EE: If I could go back and take a few more classes, I would try more hands-on classes. Two in particular are the Small Engines and Engineering & Design classes. I think both of those classes would have really benefited me in life – especially the Engineering & Design class as I am on an Engineering path.
LQ: We talked about the past. Let’s talk about the present. What is it like to be in your last few weeks as a senior in high school? I can imagine you are busy and maybe even a little stressed out. Do you have advice for future seniors about how to prepare for this time in their lives?
EE: Senior year is exciting. It is busy and tiring but it is really exciting to know that the last thirteen years of school is almost done and we get to move on to a new phase in our lives. We all get to see the people that we grew up with transition to adult life and that is really cool. As for preparing for everything that needs to get done right now, I recommend making lots of checklists for homework, clubs, your job, scholarship and applications. Those checklists will help keep you sane during a very busy time. My other recommendation is to take Ms. Rice’s College Readiness class. I didn’t realize how much work went into applying for college and filling out the FAFSA. My experience in her class helped me understand what I needed to do to get ready for college and all of the resources we had access to.
LQ: I know from talking to you that you have exciting plans for your future. Can you talk about what your plans are starting next year?
EE: Next year I am going to attend the University of Washington to pursue Bio-Medical Engineering. I have been admitted to the College of Engineering as an Engineering Undeclared Major. One of the things that the program is working on right now is a wearable kidney for people who need dialysis. I am looking forward to seeing that kind of innovation up close and to get hands on experience in the field I am interested in. I know it will be more difficult because it is more competitive than high school but I am really excited for the challenge and for getting to know new people. Living in a city like Seattle is something I am looking forward to.
LQ: A follow up question. What should future students do now – what classes should they take, what should they prepare for – if they are interested in an academic path similar to yours?
EE: Definitely math and science. Don’t take the easy route. Take as much math and science as you can – all the way through senior year. It is easy to think about creating an easy schedule for senior year but I think continuing to pursue challenges will make you better prepared for the increase in competition at the college level. This year I designed my schedule with AP Calculus in the morning, Ceramics and Culinary in the middle of my day and then AP Chemistry in the afternoon.
LQ: You were awarded Outstanding Student by the Family & Consumer Science Department this year. Tell me a little bit about your work and interest in this area.
EE: I have been very involved in the Food Science and Independent Living programs. This year I was able to create a Special Project in this area and I focused on testing recipes intended for catering a big CTE Dinner. Part of what I tried to do is make sure that each recipe could be completed, transported and served easily. That experience helped me to understand cooking on a new level.
LQ: We are proud of you, Ellie. We are rooting for you and hope that you will come back often!