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Alumni share stories about life after high school

Madison Gould and Emily Rowe

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    After graduation, alumni have many opportunities to choose from. While some choose to go to college, others opt to take a gap year, a few choose to immediately start their career, and some decide to enlist in the military.

    Recent graduates Kaitlyn Smith, Katy Weir and Cierra Birmingham chose paths that were different than many of their classmates. However, they chose the path they felt was right for them.



    Kaitlyn Smith, a graduate of the class of 2017, started an internship this August at the Children’s Activity Center. The organization defines themselves as a faith-based inner-city ministry that targets at-risk kids in some of Houston’s toughest neighborhoods. Their mission is to share the gospel with them.

courtesy of CAT Ministries
CAT Ministries leads children from surrounding apartments in worship songs.

    “I learned about the CAT ministry through a mission trip I went on with my church’s youth group earlier in the year,” Smith said. “Pastor Scott, the head of the ministry, mentioned a summer internship with CAT. I knew that I wanted to spend my summer serving, so I decided to take the internship, and later I felt God calling me to stay for the rest of the fall semester.”

courtesy of Kaitlyn Smith
Recent alumni Kaitlyn Smith plays with children at the ministry she works with, the Children’s Activity Truck.

    Every Saturday, the ministry hosts a church service where they teach Bible-based lessons, play fun games, and serve hot lunch for the kids. During the week, they also take their Children’s Activity Trucks, CAT trucks for short, to farther away apartment complexes and turn the truck into a portable Sunday school service.

    “The biggest challenge working with this ministry is seeing the places where these kids are living and knowing there isn’t anything we can do to change it,” Smith said. “It’s comforting, though, to know that I am able to make a difference in their lives.”

    Looking back on her decision, Smith doesn’t regret choosing the CAT ministry over college, because of how it will help her with what she plans to do for the rest of her life.

    “I was really nervous when I first made the decision not to attend college this year,” Smith said. “It was weird watching all of my friends moving in a different direction than I was, but I was excited because I knew this was the best thing for me as I want to spend my life as a missionary, spreading the love of Jesus.”



    Katy Weir, a graduate of the class of 2016, also pursued an unconventional route after high school. She  attended the Culinary School of Fort Worth and graduated last year.

    “I’ve been cooking since I was young, and I’ve always been naturally good at it, so I wanted to make it into a career,” Weir said. “I decided the Culinary School of Fort Worth was the place to get an education because I wanted to be near the love of my life and get out of the Austin area.”

courtesy of Katy Weir
Alumni Katy Weir takes a picture with her classmates after graduation from the Culinary School of Fort Worth.

     Each day, students listened to a lecture for about an hour, and then they went to the kitchen to start  cooking. They were graded for the techniques they used, as well as the flavor and visual presentation of each dish. Their teachers also checked to make sure each plate incorporated all of the proper elements.

    “The biggest challenge for me was definitely learning how to use different techniques of cooking and knife cuts for different types of meats and veggies,” Weir said. “I thought culinary school would be a lot of repeating the same thing, but it was much more than that.”

    Now that Weir has graduated, she plans to continue her career as a personal chef and caterer, so she can make more money per client.

    “The best part of cooking school was learning that food isn’t just what we put in our bodies,” Weir said. “I learned that food is art, and there are endless ways to express emotion through plating, Culinary school taught me not only how to cook better, but how to become a real chef.”



    Cierra Birmingham, a graduate of the class of 2017 and former Royal, continued pursuing her passion of dance by joining the Kilgore College Rangerettes, a world famous dance team.

courtesy of Cierra Birmingham
Rangerette and recent alumni Cierra Birmingham poses with her teammate in her Rangerette uniform on Williams Field.

    “Being a Rangerette is a completely different from being a Royal,” Birmingham said. “They have their own style, technique, and rules that make the organization like no other. However, being a Royal helped me build up my kicking skills, as well as other techniques that helped me during tryouts.”

    Birmingham’s love for the art started at a young age, and she hopes to continue dancing in the future as a career. She also hopes to teach dance at a studio.

    “I have been dancing for 17 years, beginning when my mom signed me up for a class at the age of two,” Birmingham said. “I grew a love for it and have been dancing ever since. I knew I wanted to continue my passion for dancing while I was in college, but what pulled me into the Rangerettes were their traditions and amazing training. I wanted to be trained by the best.”

courtesy of Cierra Birmingham
Royal alumni Cierra Birmingham poses with her team, the famous Kilgore College Rangerettes.

    Through doing what she loves, Birmingham is determined to get better everyday and live up to the Rangerettes’ reputation.

    “It has been a true blessing and nothing less than a positive, fun experience,” Birmingham said. “I would not trade this journey for anything. Putting on the uniform and reminding myself that I am a world famous Kilgore College Rangerette is always an exciting moment.”

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Alumni share stories about life after high school