Graduates Share Their Experiences

Aviation high school 2011 graduates share their unique and personal experiences about their final years of high school and beginning of college.

Even though Aviation High School is a STEM school, it doesn’t mean that a student’s desired career path has to be STEM or aviation related.  Some graduates decided to follow a career path that’s completely unrelated to aviation, such as the music industry.

There were many student bands, singers, and independent instrument players at AHS. Now that they have graduated, some have continued to pursue a musical career.

Lianda Abraham is a perfect example of someone who loves to do something unrelated to aviation. She’s known for her beautiful singing voice and her outstanding performances in the music group EriAm Sisters.

“My sisters and I started performing four to five years ago. It started at a talent show that nobody but us signed up for. It was one of the worst and greatest moments of my life,” said Abraham, “the beginning half was the terrifying part because it was my dad who forced me from my hiding spot onto the stage with my sisters. The last half was the great part because I felt comfortable and confident, doing something I enjoyed (in front of people) for the first time.”

As her singing career started up, all of AHS became amazed as she and her sisters performed at the school’s talent shows and sung the national anthem at important events like the graduation ceremonies and assemblies.

“My favorite thing about singing is the final product a.k.a.-the performance. The second our last song ends, I’ll mentally run through every bit of the set,” said Abraham, “thinking of any mistakes we could’ve possibly made in the harmonies or choreo [graphy] or whatever! The best part of singing for me is the feeling I get walking off stage and knowing that I tried my best and kicked butt!”

But all of her performances didn’t take place in just school; she has performed at many different incredible places and kept these experiences with her to remember forever.

“The most unique place we’ve performed at would have to be…. at the 2010 gay pride festival in Seattle. I enjoyed it a lot because we got to share the stage with the most gorgeous/entertaining drag queens I’ve ever seen!” said Abraham, “We’ve traveled to East Africa, Eritrea, and performed in front of 40,000 people and the president of the country for the country’s Independence Day. We performed in Africa last summer and again this past May. This summer we had shows in Sweden, Germany and Amsterdam. We got back from Atlanta about two weeks ago and finished recording our first music video. About two years ago we auditioned for America’s Got Talent and made it to the semi-finals.”

Although she has a music career she would love to follow, that’s not the only thing she wants to pursue. Abraham also currently attends college in order to earn a degree that isn’t art or music related.

“I’m attending Bellevue College and going for an associates in Science degree,” said Abraham, “I’m loving the whole college experience and I’m really enjoying the classes, especially psychology.”

Through her musical career she has always had her parents to fall back on and support her and her sisters. This moral support has also led her to achieving great performances and being able to travel to many places.

“My parents have definitely been a huge inspiration. They’ve been putting in just as much work as both my sisters and I have been putting in to this whole performing thing,” said Abraham, “they both left their families and country (Eritrea) in order to lead a successful life here in America and now are putting their heart and souls into making their daughters’ dreams come true.”

On the visually creative side there is Elizabeth Ong, who has inspired people with her incredible art ability and fashion sense.

“I have a passion in art and I believe my skills will take me far. I plan to become a video game artist or animator and hopefully work for Nintendo,” said AHS graduate Elizabeth Ong, “then, in the future, I would also like to have a side job in the fashion industry. I am really excited!”

In addition, attending Aviation High School can benefit a student or graduate because of the unique events AHS allows you to attend. Also, Ong’s experiences reflect a lot on the opportunities she received from attending Aviation high school.

“There are plenty of important and memorable events that I’ve attended. And it’s just one of the things I am really proud of as an AHS Alumni; being able to be apart and experiencing something that other high schoolers may not be able to. The Pathfinder’s Gala, Meeting and talking to VIPs or notable people from the aviation industry,” said Ong, “starting/continuing AHS traditions, AHS social events, SciOly Competitions etc, and overall, just being able to go to school with my peers and teachers that I really love. AHS has grown and accomplished a lot. I am really glad that I was able to apart of that.”

Consequently, after graduates received some unique benefits and opportunities from attending Aviation high school, they move on to college and apply the skills they learned in high school to their college life.

“As of now, I am attending Highline Community College and is working towards my degree in the Arts. I am taking courses that would allow me to easily transfer into the University of Washington DXART program,” said Ong, “I am now in my second week of college and so far, it has been going quite well. I’ve thought of not being to involved with school and just focusing on my school work but in my heart, I dont think I can do that. Haha. I just love being involved (thanks to AHS). I am looking forward to joining the numerous clubs that have here at HCC.”

However, as students go to college and pursue their desired career paths, they never forget their true dreams. Ong shows that she will never forget her passion for fashion.

“I really love fashion. Not just the shopping but more like being able to design and having people wear them and like them. I think clothes can really define a person’s personality,” said Ong, “and I would just love to see people wear my designs and feel confident in them. Unfortunately, I don’t plan on pursuing this career now. Honestly, I don’t think I can really support myself in the future because its a cutting edge industry. But this doesn’t mean I am going to give up on it. I’ll just pursue it later in life.”

As you’re pursuing a career in art, fashion, or anything else, something that is important is your supporters. It’s good to have someone who can stand by you and your passions.

“I guess the person that I really looked up to would be my dad. He was born in Vietnam and moved over here when he was about 18 years old. He has been through a lot of hardships. He started out slow but made his way up to becoming successful. He graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a year later, he became an employee at Nintendo,” said Ong, “My dad would constantly nag me to study and give 110% in all of my school work. It drives me nuts sometimes! But, I understand why. He had it tough, way tougher than me. Therefore I am motivated to try my very best to become a successful person like him.”

On the other hand, there are some students who do want to follow an aviation related career, one of them being Casey Chandler.

“I am currently attending the University of Washington, and my intended major is Mechanical Engineering,” said AHS grad Casey Chandler, “Mr. Joshi was a big part of the reason I chose to pursue engineering. Joshi’s challenging, but [his] informative calculus course helped me realize how much I loved math!”

As grads slowly turn into adults, they learn to prioritize and put what is more important first. Chandler and many other graduates even had to give up on some past dreams in order to succeed in the present.

“I was interested in photography, but chose not to pursue it for several reasons,” said Chandler, “But never found the time to really get into it.”

Additionally, there are two other graduates that have the chance to experience what it’s like to live in a new city while they go to college.

“Being in a new city is basically what you would expect, just very different,” said NYU freshmen Miranda Sita, “it’s hard to explain really. But for as much as I loved Seattle, I love New York just as much now.”

“Staying in a new city… think of it as an adventure, because it is!” said USC freshmen Jim Stone, “but keep in touch with your friends from back home.”

Everyone becomes explorers on their first day in a new city, because there is so much to learn and see. But sometimes being in a new city will make you miss your hometown, like these two Seattle grads.


“What I honestly miss most about Seattle is probably my dogs,” said Sita,  “But I also really miss the trees, NYU doesn’t have trees! Or at least real trees, just the wimpy ones they planted on the streets to create atmosphere.”

“What I miss about Seattle is honestly the rain,” said Stone, “it’s too damn sunny here (Los Angeles) and of course the people – I miss y’all!”

Overall, even though these graduates have been at college for only a small amount of time, they have learned what can make college great from experiences.

“College can be a good time by having awesome friends!” said Stone, “meet the other people in your dorm and classes and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to random people the first few weeks.”

“I’m not sure I’m qualified to say what really makes a great college experience considering I’m only in my second month of freshman year,” said Sita, “But what I am really finding important right now is making friends. These friends I make are going to become my family over the next four years, and I want to make sure I will find the people that will not only help me succeed, but really enjoy everything that college has to offer.”

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