Mariner High senior listens to mentors, refocuses on his future

EVERETT — Tommy Khem, 17, is a senior at Mariner High School in the Mukilteo district. His school days are split between Mariner and Sno-Isle TECH Skills Center, where he takes a criminal justice class.

After getting into some trouble in middle school, Tommy has worked hard to reverse course. His life is now on a positive path. He was helped by a mentor at the YMCA in Mukilteo. With a job and some big goals, he looks forward to graduation, college and perhaps a career in law enforcement.

Question: Mariner’s Principal Brent Kline suggested you as a Herald Super Kid. Why do you think he picked you?

Answer: I’m really involved with the YMCA. It started in eighth grade when I had to turn my life around. I hung out with the wrong kids, and we decided to do some things that weren’t right.

Q: Tell me about that YMCA mentor.

A: I met Alex Costumbrado. He was one of the mentors at the Mukilteo Y. I would go there every day and clean up for an hour or two, and help out with the kids. They run a program over at Horizon Elementary School. I’ve helped kids with their homework, math and reading. I got really involved.

Q: Costumbrado is director of the Y’s Casino Road Youth Development Center. How did he inspire you?

A: He started to talk to me, asking “What are your plans for college?” College? That wasn’t a plan for me. He said “Sure it is.” He started pointing me in the right direction. He was kind of coming from my perspective. He told me everything I needed to know, but in a fun way.

Q: Do you play sports at Mariner?

A: Sophomore year I started playing baseball. It was the first time I played baseball. I play outfield. I continued baseball my junior year and also did wrestling. I’m trying to do that again.

Q: And you have a job?

A: I’ve worked at a Dairy Queen in Everett for almost a year. I’ve been a manager in training. I work weekends.

Q: Tell me about your college and career goals.

A: I want to sign up for the National Guard for help with education. Not being full-time military, you can still have a civilian life. I want to do both college and the National Guard. I hope to go to Washington State University.

Q: And you want to be a police officer?

A: I really want to help people. I always wanted to be a SWAT officer. Other kids in my criminal justice class have wanted to become a Fish and Wildlife officer or an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Sometimes the cops get a bad rap.

Q: Is there a local officer you admire?

A: Officer (Mark) Carter of the Everett Police Department. He was a school resource officer at Explorer Middle School. I really like the way he greets everybody with a smile.

Q: Tell me about your family.

A: I have five siblings, brothers and sisters. I’m the middle child, but I’m the oldest one at home.

Q: What other volunteer work have you done?

A: I helped out by planting trees in the Lake Stevens area through the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. It was really fun. We also went to a retirement home and helped people clean up.

Q: If you have spare time, how do you spend it?

A: I like to go to the local skate park, at Walter Hall, and ride my BMX bike.

Q: Have you had a favorite class at Mariner?

A: I love physical education because of Ms. (Darlene) Miller. She motivates you. She’s a CrossFit enthusiast. If kids think they can’t push it, she gives a motivational speech — just keep going.

Q: How is attending a class at Sno-Isle different from Mariner?

A: You get treated like an adult. It’s like a job almost.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460;

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