Allison Hassard (Video)
When Allison Hassard begins her engineering studies at Virginia’s Sweet Briar College this fall, she’ll likely have an advantage over her classmates. The Grimsley High graduate will leave Guilford County Schools (GCS) as a College Tech Prep (CTP) completer after studying engineering and information technology at Weaver Academy.
The College Tech Prep program prepares students either for technical careers or for a two- or four-year college to continue their studies. Students can focus on one of 13 program areas, from culinary arts to medical sciences, areas that offer a strong potential for future success.
“It’s a great way to figure out what you like and what you don’t like,” says Allison, who will also receive the district’s service-learning exemplary award. “You get to try it on and see how it fits.”
Allison’s studies at Weaver helped her place first in the state and second in the nation in the SkillsUSA telecommunication cabling competition, as well as a second-place state finish with two of her classmates in the Future Business Leaders of America network design competition.
Kaelyn Zynda was lucky enough to receive a second chance, and she’s working to help other kids receive the same.
Kaelyn was only 12 years old when she was diagnosed with leukemia. Though her initial diagnosis was positive, complications from the chemotherapy and medications threatened her life and forced her to spend more time hospitalized in Chapel Hill.
“It was very difficult to keep up with all my classes from eighth grade through about sophomore year because I would end up having to teach myself the material that I would have otherwise learned from my teachers at school,” she says. “I made it my goal not to fall behind, and the ultimate goal was to be able to graduate with all my friends on time.”
She’ll do that Sunday with her class from Grimsley High, as one of about 5,100 graduates from Guilford County Schools this year. Kaelyn has been in remission for three years, though she still deals with the daily ramifications of her treatment, but says she’s much healthier than when she started at Grimsley.
Now she’s able to focus more on her long-term goals – namely helping others deal with the disease and its impact. Kaelyn plans to attend DePaul University in Chicago to double-major in Spanish and biology. “Eventually my aspiration is to become a pediatric oncologist to one day be able to help kids through this terrible disease,” she says.
But in the meantime she’s working to create a scholarship foundation for children who are surviving cancer. Kaelyn’s Second Chance Kids Foundation is designed to honor those who have died with a scholarship in their name specific to their goals. The first scholarship will be named in honor of Kaelyn’s friend Ashton Miller, an aspiring artist who passed away last year at the age of 21.
“The idea behind it is to give children who have passed away a second chance at living out their dreams through a child who is still fighting,” she says. “This is something I’m very passionate about and I hope it takes off.”