Award Winning Students – What They’re Doing Now?


Katie Goyette

The banners hanging from the ceiling of the Lakota West High School often go unnoticed. But if you ever have looked up, one might just wonder what the students on these banners do after high school. Many students graduate high school with plans to attend college and pursue a career in a field they are passionate about. On average, college students change their major at least three times over the course of their college careers. However, some actually do continue their career path with the goals set in high school. 

Rachel Steiner, a Lakota West student in 2011, got an award for a drawing that she created during her junior year of high school. In the competition that Rachel won, 250,000 applications were submitted, and Scholastic picked around the top 1,000 pieces. As a high school student, art was a way for her to express her feelings nonverbally. Rachel found artwork very therapeutic, and it eventually sparked her interest in art therapy and mental health work. After high school, she went to college on a full-ride art scholarship but came out of college with a degree in Occupational Therapy. Once she got a full-time job, she had to put painting on the back burner. Rachel still enjoys creating art whenever she can but it has become more of a hobby and activity she enjoys.  

Zach Flake, another former Lakota West student, received an award for wrestling and won a state title in 2003. Zach spent countless hours of hard work and dedication to become the best wrestler he dreamed of being. “My dad would get me to school early to get a workout in before the lights came on,” Zach says. Wrestling was his passion and he wouldn’t have traded it for the world. After high school, Zach attended a few different colleges and won an NJCAA National Title. Currently, he works as a Water Tech Operator at a Climax Mine. He never would’ve thought he would pursue this career, but he absolutely loves it. Zach also runs a High Elevation Wrestling Club on the side. He enjoys his life and is very grateful for the time he sacrificed to become an amazing wrestler. 

Wyatt Lippert won an award for men’s tennis in 2008. In all four years of his high school career, Wyatt was on the tennis team. During that time, he won many awards including GMCs, State, Sectionals, Districts, and more. Wyatt has spent every day 2-3 hours working on tennis since he was 8 years old. He described tennis as “a humbling game”. Tennis has always meant the world to him. He was always very determined to improve and do his best. After high school, he went to college and maintained a career in teaching. Wyatt teaches at an Athletic Fitness Center, coaching tennis through the Master’s Program for kids ages 12-17, who are working hard to get into college. Wyatt loves teaching and continuing to learn and do what he is passionate about.

Life is a journey and one may never know the depths of where it might take them. Your passion is always going to stick with you but it might not be the focus of your life as it once was in high school. Some may choose to pursue their passion daily and others may have fewer opportunities to explore it. Regardless of the outcome, always choose a personal area of passion, explore it, and see where it takes you.