Where Are They Now
February 19, 2019
High school is seen as the final stage of preparation before students get sent out into the world. People go to numerous points around the world as they start their career, maturing and growing into good Samaritans who will push the world further into an age of growth and innovation.
In this series, we take a look at students who are beginning to start their lives as an adult and see what they’ve been doing since they last walked out of the George Ranch doors.
Where Are They Now: Katlynn McKenzie
Katlynn Mckenzie graduated in 2018.
Katlynn McKenzie, a former member of The Wrangler staff, is now attending Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming. She is majoring in Photographic Communications and is taking six classes for the first semester and four classes for the spring semester.
“It was easy because I knew it was what I needed and what would make me happy. It was difficult because I was moving away from my family and my friends,” McKenzie said.
For her, moving away from home was easy and hard. She misses the food and the heat. Wyoming is extremely cold for someone who has lived in Texas for all her life. And she can’t come home very often because airplane tickets are expensive, so she’ll only be able to come in May when her classes end. She misses Texas a lot, but is much happier in Wyoming. She has even considered moving over there because her health, both mental and physical, has improved.
A huge factor in her wanting to move to Wyoming is the positive experience she’s had at her college. Compared to high school, college has been a great change. She’s been allowed more down time to explore her numerous interests and has more freedom in self-expression.
“I miss Texas a lot, but I am much happier here.” McKenzie said.
Where Are They Now: Coghlan Smith
Coghlan Smith graduated in 2018.
Coghlan Smith, former Wrangler staff, is working as a waiter at a Mexican restaurant. He works six days a week. For now, he is not attending college because he had enough credits from taking AP classes that he has the opportunity to take a break from school. He wanted to “see what it was like to live without constant academic pressure.”
Smith hasn’t enjoyed being out of school. He loves learning and “working towards something” but now that he’s not, he’s just bored most of the time. Not hanging out with people because he is not a social person, also contributes to his boredom. At school, he was forced to interact with people which is why he did but now that nobody is forcing him, he finds it odd that he’s always alone.
“There are better jobs out there, but I really don’t care about the money, I’m doing it for the experience,” Smith said.
Eventually he wants to start writing novels but in the meantime, he will write articles and copy edit for newspapers.
Where Are They Now: Braden Jackson
Braden Jackson graduated in 2018.
Braden Jackson, former Culinary student, is currently not attending college, but is planning to next year. He is living at home and hopes to move out by the age of 21 or 22.
Right now, Jackson is working at Cinemark, but he plans on getting a better job soon.
“I have not given it too much thought but a great idea I had was to be a teacher for a high school,” Jackson said.
Now that he has graduated, he has more freedom and time to do things he enjoys, but he also misses being with friends every second of the day.
“They were the reason high school was worth going to, even some of the teachers I had were amazing people,” Jackson said.
Where Are They Now: Kelly Pittinger
Kelly Pittinger graduated in 2018.
Kelly Pittinger, former Culinary student, is attending college at the University of Houston (UH) as a physics major. College, for him, is easier than high school, however, he misses being in a “centralized place” with friends where he could slack off and still pass. Eventually, he wants to go to med school and become a surgeon.
“Your grades and deadlines aren’t spoon fed to you like they were in high school, but if you stay attentive and watch deadlines, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have A’s,” Pittinger said.
In college, he has gotten higher grades than what he had in high school because he is, “taking classes I’m actually interested in and paying for your classes gives you an incentive to do well.”
He moved out of his parent’s house recently and is currently living on-campus.
“Commuting split my time between too many places, which I felt limited my time and attention,” Pittinger said.
Now that he has more time he will start working at Methodist on October 1st.
Where Are They Now: Sheridan Smith
Sheridan Smith graduated in 2018.
Sheridan Smith, former Wrangler staff member, is now attending Austin Community College (ACC) as a Journalism major. She hopes to transfer to the University of Texas (UT) eventually. She is living off-campus at the Callaway House on the West Campus of UT. She chose to live there because she “wanted to live near Guadalupe & UT students.”
Smith is working as a nanny for Patrick Terry, the owner of P. Terrys. She takes his kids to school and to their extracurricular activities. She is considered a full-time student, but only takes four classes which still gives her enough time to work for the Terrys. She takes two classes a day from Monday through Thursday.
Moving away from home is hard for most students, but not for Smith, who has “been looking forward to moving out, not specifically away from my parents, from Sugar Land.”
She was really excited to move to a different city where she could go out and do fun things. She misses being able to be with her friends and go to many concerts. Furthermore, living in Austin helps her save gas since she walks everywhere.
“My school campus is maybe about a 15 minute drive there and back. Besides that, I walk everywhere to get my groceries, go out to eat, and to hangout with my friends,”
Where Are They Now: Christian Guillory
Guillory graduated in 2018.
Christian Guillory, former Junior ROTC member is now enlisted in the Navy. He is currently a DC (damage control-man) in which if any damage somehow comes to the ship he is stationed on he is one of the first responders to help fix it.
“We’re going into the affected areas of the ship and putting those fires out and stopping flooding, toxic gas, etc. On a normal day, we’re working on our equipment such as SCBAS (Self-contained breathing apparatus) and PPE (personal protective equipment) to make sure they’re ready for the day we will need them,” Guillory said.
While many students are eager to graduate high school, some do not realize the hardships of one depending on themselves each and every day. For Guillory, the hardest part of graduating high school was being on his own.
“It’s way different, especially being in the military. No parents to wake you up, no one to cook you breakfast, no sleeping in, etc. If you want to eat breakfast, you have to wake up at 0400 (4 AM) to clean up, get in uniform, and go eat. If you’re not up and ready by 0545 (5:45 AM), you’re considered UA (Unauthorized Absence) which is publishable by law,” Guillory said.
But being independent is not all bad, however. While there are other branches of the military that Guillory could have chosen to enter, the Navy was the best fit for him, and it certainly comes with its benefits.
“Getting paid to learn a job and travel the world sounded extremely appealing. Yeah I could’ve joined the Marines or the Army, but not all of them can say they’ve been to Japan, Spain, Korea, Australia in one deployment,” Guillory said.
ROTC stands for Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, and that is a program that George Ranch offers to its students. Guillory was a member throughout his high school career and offers advice to those currently in the program.
“Don’t get comfortable. You’re not in the military yet. I remember doing ROTC thinking I knew everything about the military and how it was going to be a piece of cake. I remember getting handed my uniform the first week of ROTC after paying a $50 rental fee.
In order to wear the uniform of the Navy, I had to get my head shaved, get screamed at and go through 7 weeks of rigorous training with very little contact with my family and the outside world,” Guillory said.
Most important of all, however, is that life is short. People do not live forever. For Guillory, he realizes this and strives to make the best of his life.
“Don’t rush life, we’re not young forever, so go out and enjoy yourself,” Guillory said.
Where Are They Now: Zeest Mirza
Mirza graduated in 2018.
Zeest Mirza was once in Speech & Debate at George Ranch. Currently, she is studying Speech Communication at Houston Community College.
“I’ve always been good at communicating with people. I picked this major because my goal is to go to law school. I am in their Honors program and there are two reasons why I’m going there. First, because they are completely paying for my first two years; classes, books, everything. Second is that I get to take a trip to Europe for my sophomore year during Spring Break for free; paid airfare, hotel, everything,” Mirza said.
Law school is a dream for many, including Mirza, but she has a drive and a motivation towards achieving that dream.
“When I finish law I want to work as a defense. I know people usually want to work for the state’s attorney, but I like the adrenaline that defense will provide me,” Mirza said.
Mirza is living her best life outside of high school. Becoming independent and a full-time student has become a love for her.
“Life after high school is good. You get to experience more freedom with your choices, as in which classes you should take for your major. You’re moving onto the next step in your life so there’s always this type of excitement within you,” Mirza said.