On the edge of ‘the real world’

Camas-Washougal seniors prepare for life after high school as graduation ceremonies loom

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The school year is winding down and graduation for the class of 2018 is right around the corner. Over the next few weeks, The Post-Record will cover several graduation-related events, including our 2018 Camas-Washougal Graduation special section, which features photos of Camas-Washougal seniors as well as feature stories on the high schools’ valedictorians. That section will be included in the June 14 Post-Record. Look for our post-graduation ceremony coverage in the June 21 Post-Record. In this issue, we feature two unique seniors from Camas and Washougal high schools — Krishnan Nair from Camas and Jolene Porter from Washougal.

Immigrants’ son is Stanford bound

In 1992, Camas High School senior Krishnan Nair’s parents moved from Fiji to Camas.

Throughout Nair’s time at Camas High, he has taken part in the magnet research program, advanced placement (AP) classes, the tennis team, sports medicine club, Muslim student association and the National Honor Society.

“(My parents) always told me that the main reason that they moved here is so they can give their kids a better opportunity that we wouldn’t have had in Fiji, because they came from an underdeveloped community,” Nair said. “And here in Camas, there are so many more opportunities.”

Nair is the youngest of the family’s four children. Next fall, when Nair heads to the prestigious Stanford University in California, currently ranked by U.S. News as the fifth best university in the country, all of the Nair siblings will be enrolled in college. Her sister, Neha, attends Washington State University Vancouver (WSUV); sister, Darshana, goes to Central Washington University; and brother, Vishal, is at Clark College and transferring to WSUV.

“(My parents) moving here really inspired me to do the best that I can and take advantage of every opportunity that I have,” Nair said. “And that’s the reason all of us went to college.”

His parents also encouraged their children to get jobs and to be more independent. Nair has worked at Chipotle in Vancouver since he turned 16.

The Camas High senior said his main priority has always been his education, but that his parents encouraged him to find things in life that he enjoyed.

Nair said he enjoyed his AP biology class in high school, and surprised himself by liking his AP language and composition class.

“I’m usually not into English classes at all but my teacher, (Sara Widdop) was really great, and she was the one that really pushed me to believe that I am determinant of my future,” Nair said. “(Widdop) was the one to really encourage me to go out and do whatever I really wanted to do and not feel limited.”

Stanford was Nair’s top choice for college, he said. Right now, Nair plans to study pre-medicine, but said he may also explore computer science courses, considering Stanford’s close proximity to Silicon Valley.

Nair said he thinks his Stanford application stood out because he tried to put his own personal story into his admission essays.

“Also, I feel like coming from a family where my parents never went to college, having them influence me (and) push me harder added to my application,” he said.

Nair will walk with his Camas High peers at the school’s graduation ceremony on June 15.

Poet plans to become heavy machinery operator

While many graduating seniors are headed to a four-year university, the military or just looking forward to a fun summer, Washougal High senior Jolene Porter is focused on another option — attending trade school and becoming a journeyman.

Porter plans to attend the Northwest College of Construction in Portland, which offers four-year, on-the-job training programs like the heavy machinery operator path Porter plans to take.

The Washougal senior had tossed around other career ideas. She thought about becoming a psychologist or an automotive technician. She even considered joining the National Guard. But the idea of becoming a heavy machinery operator won out.

“It’s easy money to make, as long as you put in the work,” Porter said of her chosen career. “You just drive and dig up dirt. I’m not afraid to get dirty.”

Washougal High library media specialist Hillary Marshall said Porter is a leader among her peers.

“Although she has had an incredibly challenging year, as her mother passed away, she still has maintained her grades and moved forward with her dreams,” Marshall said. “She excels in her English language arts classes, as she is a voracious reader.”

Porter said the school library is her sanctuary, and she always knows that, if she needs anything, assistant librarian and Keepers Club advisor Fran McCarty, as well as the other Keepers Club members, will be there for her.

“Fran is just like my at-school grandma,” Porter said.

Porter said she likes to read and write, but her strength is in poetry.

“I can’t do stories, but I can do poems,” she says.

Porter says she considers herself an empath, someone she describes as being able to too easily put themselves in someone else’s shoes and feel what they’re feeling, and so she likes to write pieces that people can relate to.

“I’m passionate about helping people,” she says.

Porter is the activities chairman of Washougal High’s Keepers of the Library Club, which organizes fundraisers to buy furniture and other items for the library.

The Keepers also make ornaments for the annual Festival of Trees event at Hathaway Elementary, create and send letters to soldiers and have their own donation boxes for the annual Stuff the Bus event. Porter said she and other club members look forward to club parties and their annual trip to Powell’s Books in Portland.

Porter will walk with her class of 2018 peers at Washougal High’s graduation ceremony on June 16.