A Non Traditional Path

While most students at LHS attend a four-year college in the United States, there are always a few students who decide to follow in a non-traditional path after they graduate high school. Some students decide to take a gap year and some enter the military, for example. There’s also the option of attending a trade school, cosmetology school or even going to a different country for college.

Here are some of the students graduating this month who have chosen one of those paths.


Brandon Gardner – Marine Corps – San Diego, California

Aliya Haddon

After Brandon Gardner graduates, he won’t immediately go to college. Instead, he’ll be heading to San Diego, where he will be joining the Marine Corps. Joining the military in Gardner’s family isn’t a tradition, but it isn’t new either. His grandfather was in the Navy, and his great uncle was in the Marines.

Gardner noted that he hopes to be deployed in Asia, however, he will not know where he will be officially deployed until after his military occupational specialty training. What he does know is that while he is deployed, his specialty involves logistics or, more specifically, supply chain maintenance. He will be “trained in the application of Automated Information Systems, known as AIS,” which is the assembly of computer hardware, as stated by The Balance Careers website.

Gardner also will partake in humanitarian aid missions. Gardner stated that during and after a natural disaster, he and his team will “always be the first [people] to go and help out.” While on these missions, he will be short-term help, until the government is able to dish out long-term assistance. Gardner stated that he hopes “to take advantage of some of those opportunities and help people out.”

After Gardner leaves the Marine Corps in 2023, he does plan to attend college. At the moment, he is thinking of Michigan State University, where he might study business administration. However, he is not certain as to exactly what he will be doing or where he will be going, as he is giving himself more time to make a choice than most seniors.


Cooper Miller – Gap Year – Nepal and Japan

Aliya Haddon

Cooper Miller will be heading over to Nepal with an organization for students on gap years called Where There Be Dragons. On their official website, they state that during the Nepal trip, students will “experience the mysticism of the Himalayas: trek on the roof of the world, study traditional arts with local masters [and] live in a farming village and sit for a Buddhist meditation retreat.”

The trip will stretch for 84 days from August to December. Then, for December and January,  Miller will be in Florida with his family. Currently, he doesn’t “know what [he’s] going to do other than family stuff,” however he does hope to eventually find something more to do than just relax.

His second gap-year trip takes him to Japan from January all the way until August 2020. There, Miller will take part in an internship program with a professor at Stanford University. He will be doing research, which will “most likely compare the educational systems of American and Japanese schools,” Miller said. This research will be conducted with one of Stanford’s professors, which in turn “might [give him] a good chance of being accepted” in applying to Stanford after the internship is finished.

Deciding to go on a gap year was not always Miller’s intention. When applying to colleges, Miller said he realized that he was not sure what he wanted to do, or even where he really wanted to go, and “didn’t want to waste money on tuition to figure that out, [or] bouncing around to different majors for the first year.” In the end, the option to take a gap year was his ultimate decision, and he resolved to attend school afterwards.


Juan Pelayo – The Navy 

Aliya Haddon

Juan Pelayo will be embarking on a journey similar to Gardner’s plan this fall. Pelayo will be “joining the Navy and [is] planning on being an engineer.”

Pelayo said that a main factor in his decision was that when he was a kid, he knew a lot of people who were in the military, and he always looked up to them. After that, Pelayo “never really had any more ideas of what [he] wanted to do.”

Pelayo stated that the training for the Navy is “meant to make you quit so they can see who is loyal and dedicated.” Military.com gives a detailed list on what to expect during the training, which includes, but definitely is not limited to, controlled sit-ups, curl-ups, and push-ups for a period of one to two minutes.

After Pelayo’s deployment ends in 2023, he plans to attend Michigan State University, which is what he said his parents had wanted him to do originally. Pelayo said he had a tough time convincing his parents that joining the military was the best option for him. They had even nearly convinced Pelayo himself to not join. However, in the end, Pelayo was able to get “them to understand that [the Navy was] what I wanted.”


Carolyn Hardy – University of St. Andrews – St. Andrews, Scotland

Aliya Haddon

While Carolyn Hardy does plan to attend a four-year school, she will be doing so in Scotland. However, going to the University of St. Andrews was not Hardy’s original plan.

She had been thinking about taking a gap year, but that did not work out the way she initially thought. Then, when Hardy was applying to colleges, she wasn’t too hooked on St. Andrews because she didn’t want to go there if she didn’t visit the school first. So, St. Andrews was the last school she applied to.

When Hardy’s parents were in London, they decided they would fly her out to meet them, and the three of them would visit St. Andrews together. While the family toured the college, Hardy stated that her parents “said that I seemed happier there than any other school that I visited.” Therefore, they were not too surprised when Hardy made St. Andrews her final decision.

Hardy plans to study German, history, and international relations for two years, and then her junior year, she will choose one or two to major in. She has expressed immense excitement while talking about St. Andrews, stating that the entire town of St. Andrews “looks like the Harry Potter World in Orlando.” The town is littered with castle ruins, and you can even see the entire town on top of one of the tower ruins. The university’s student population is roughly 8,000, which, for Hardy, “felt like it was like a perfect fit.”