On May 25, 350 students graduated from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM). These students, who applied as high school sophomores, were accepted due to their academic abilities in math and science, to attend NCSSM, either living on their Durham campus or attending online. Once admitted these students studied in the areas of technology, science, engineering, math, and the humanities, giving them an expansive knowledge, amply preparing them for their academic future. Of the 350 graduating, six residential graduates and five online graduates were from Lincoln County high schools. 

Three of the six residential students, were from East Lincoln High School; Ahmad Hall, who will be studying Electrical Engineering at Appalachian State University, Emma Holmes, who accepted the Abroad Kennedy-Lugar Scholarship and will be headed abroad for a yearlong program, and Joseph Loendorf, who will also be attending Appalachian State University to study Chemistry with his ultimate goal being to teach high school students. Two of the six students graduated from North Lincoln High School, Marco Allan, who will be attending Dartmouth College to study Political Science, and Noelle Faith Robinson, who will be studying Exploratory Studies at NC State University. The remaining of the six, Sydney Kuczenski from Lincoln Charter, will be studying Marine Science at NC State University. 

As for the five students who attended NCSSM online from their local high schools, three attended North Lincoln High School. North Lincoln Highschool students, Alisa Andrews will be attending NC State to study Political Science and Agriculture Technology, Andrew Berley will be studying Chemical Engineering at NC State University, and Alison File who will be attending UNCC to study Mechanical Engineering as a Levine Scholar. Alex Castillo, who attended Lincoln Charter School will be attending Appalachian State University and Nahi Nadra from Lincoln Charter School will be studying at Davidson College. 

Leaving one’s local high school to attend a larger university or college is a difficult transition for many high school graduates. Embarking on this experience will lead to changes in nearly every aspect of these young adults’ lives, from living in a new place and meeting new people to being apart from family and friends at home. For those who do not follow the traditional transition from high school to college, this shift than be even more complicated. 

Emma Holmes, a recent graduate from NCSSM, who has chosen to delay her college attendance, will be traveling to Bosnia and Herzegovina as a participant in the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad program.

“This is a scholarship through the U.S. State Department given to 65 high school students (or recent graduates) across the nation. Afterwards, I am unsure what college I will be going to, which is stressful, but stress is nothing new to me,” said Holmes. 

The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad (YES) program, developed in 2002, is designed to encourage creating connection between US citizens and countries with large Muslim populations. The Bosnia and Herzegovina program was developed in hopes of increasing communication, understanding, and respect, between citizens of the United States and Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Whiles Holmes admitted the application process and her decision to defer college was difficult, she was certain this decision would be well worth it.

“As for colleges…they would not allow me to defer for a year, and I was not willing to give up the opportunity to be a part of YES Abroad” Holmes said.

Many say, college is a time to encounter new perspectives, and Holmes will be doing more than just that. 

“This is the first time that I feel I will become fully immersed in a culture. I will be living with a host family, going to a local school, and getting involved with the community. It’s slightly terrifying to go to a place where I know nobody for a year, but I am extremely excited to do so and to overcome any challenges,” said Holmes. 

Like many high school seniors, leaving high school, fellow students, and all of the memories behind, will be a difficult task for Holmes. 

“The hardest part about leaving NCSSM is that I know there’s a chance I will never see many of these people, people that I consider my family, again. The people made NCSSM into the place where I have felt the most comfortable being myself and I am really going to miss that freedom,” said Holmes. 

Though departing from NCSSM may be emotional, Holmes will be representing her community abroad and will be making those at home proud, as she embarks on this once in a lifetime experience. 

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