Monday, September 28, 2015

Windham High School graduates succeeding on the West Coast - By Elizabeth Richards

Windham High School graduates and siblings Ashley and Dan Crocker have both made their way to the West Coast to pursue their dreams.  Both are making good progress on the path to their chosen career.

After spending four years at the University of Connecticut and receiving a degree in chemistry in 2014, Dan began to look for a graduate program in environmental or atmospheric chemistry.  “There’s a lot of those out here in CA, and not a whole lot anywhere else,” he said, explaining how he landed in California.  

Dan is currently in a PhD program at the University of California San Diego.  He anticipates that the program will take five or six years to complete.  Though he doesn’t yet have a specific career in mind, he said he would really like to work in the field of researching climate change.

Some highlights since graduating from Windham High School include being voted most outstanding senior in chemistry at UConn during his final year, and getting into the PhD program, he said. 
Dan doesn’t plan to remain in California after his schooling.  “I’d like to come back to New England,” he said, though the ultimate decision will rest on where he is able to find a job.

Ashley, on the other hand, is right where she would like to be.  After graduating from WHS she headed to Emerson College in Boston to study film post production.  She spent her summers in internship positions and taking classes, finishing her undergraduate degree in just three years.
One of the reasons she wanted to finish college quickly was the cost.  Her parents were doing her a huge favor, she said, by helping pay for an expensive school.  

“I wanted to do everything I could to make sure the financial burden on them wasn’t too much, and that they could retire on time,” she said. Though it was time consuming to fit four years of school into three, she said she’s glad it worked out that way. 

And finishing when she did made it possible for her to grab opportunity when it came along.  Ashley’s involvement with a video game called League of Legends, and her interest in “e-sports” which are organized video game competitions among the best players in the world, prompted her to help start a League of Legends club at Emerson in her sophomore year.  In the fall semester of her third year, the club was expanded to a full e-sports club, and officially recognized by the school.  The club allowed her not only to have fun doing something she loved, but gave her an opportunity to practice what she was learning in school, she said.

In the spring of 2015 Ashley did her final semester of school at the Emerson LA campus, a relatively new program.  While there she did an internship for credit with a company called Psychic Bunny. It was there that she first worked on a project for Riot Games, the company that makes League of Legends.  

And in February, she saw a job posting for an assistant editor at Riot Games.  She submitted her resume, went through a rigorous interview process, and ultimately landed the job. Ashley finished her college degree, helped close up the campus in her role as an RA, and started her new job the next day.  “I think it was a large intersection of a lot of things that made it work out so that I got to work at, essentially, my dream job,” she said.  

Ashley said she is enjoying the moment and learning a lot at a company that encourages everyone who works there to grow in their positions.  That presents her with an opportunity to find out what she likes best and go in that direction.  At this time, she said, she prefers features, which are short documentary pieces.  

While she misses her family all the way across the country, and is glad she had the chance to grow up someplace like Windham, she is happy with where she is now. 
“This is the type of thing you can never do in Maine,” she said.

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