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2020 Graduates Take the Next Step

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KPS Class of 2020

To say that the second half of the 2019-20 school year has been unusual would be an understatement. Due to COVID-19, students around the world have been forced into virtual learning. To honor the resilience that these students have shown, we asked two Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS) seniors to share their high school experiences and future goals with us in the latest edition of our Promise Student Series.

Looking back on her experience at Loy Norrix High School (Loy Norrix), Taylor Smith appreciates the work ethic that she developed.

“I did not have the best grades or study habits when I started high school, but now I am graduating with a 3.0,” she shared. “I definitely grew as a person.”

On the northwest side of town, Keith Watkins experienced similar growth as a student at Kalamazoo Central High School.

Keith Watkins

“I got into a little trouble as a freshman, not big trouble, but enough to annoy those around me,” he explained. “As I got older, I learned that the world does not revolve around me.”

In addition to learning more about themselves, Smith and Watkins made the most out of the curriculum that KPS provided.

“One of my favorite subjects at Loy Norrix was French class,” Smith said. “Learning a different language was a lot to comprehend, but it was such a valuable experience for me.”

On the topic of his favorite school subject, Watkins immediately named social studies.

“All my life I have been interested in history. My favorite classes were AP U.S. History, AP Government, and AP Comparative Government.”

With their high school years newly behind them, Smith and Watkins are excited to use The Kalamazoo Promise (The Promise) to take the next step in their lives. For Watkins, this means majoring in Digital Marketing and Ecommerce at Western Michigan University’s Haworth College of Business.

“When I was little, I was that kid that took things apart and tried to put them back together, but I could never quite execute the putting back together part,” he admitted. “So, I thought maybe I could be on the team that sells the item. Knowing that I can pursue this interest without incurring a huge amount of debt gives me great peace of mind.”

Fascinated with how lived experiences can impact the human mind, Smith plans on using The Promise to study psychology at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

Taylor Smith

“Learning about how drugs can affect a person mentally and physically and how those different elements can impact their life has always interested me,” she explained. “I could not be more grateful for the opportunity that The Promise has given me. Without it I would not be able to attend college.”

As is customary at KzooConnect, we enjoy sharing advice from current and former students with the next generation of Promise Scholars.

“Do not push yourself too hard,” Smith advised. “Make sure you get your work done, but always remember to have fun with it.”

Speaking to his own experience, Watkins stressed the importance of asking questions.

“I was too embarrassed or shy to ask questions and because of that I did not set up my class schedules the way I wanted,” he shared. “Asking questions will help you in the long run.”

Thank you to these two KPS graduates for taking the time to talk with us. Before we sign off for the week, we want to let all our community’s graduates know that we are proud of them and appreciate their resilience especially in the unexpected end to their high school careers.

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