SNOHOMISH — Jessica Shattuck, 17, has made the most of her four years at Snohomish High School. She will be saying goodbye to it as one of the school’s commencement speakers June 12.
Question: You’re almost done. How does it feel?
Answer: It feels really good. High school is kind of like a step into the larger plan. To accomplish such a large step in graduating high school, and move on to college where you can create your own path, feels awesome.
Q: Where are you going?
A: I am going to the University of Washington to study neurobiology. I’d like to become a neurosurgeon. I’m specifically interested in autism and dyslexia. I had the privilege of working at Camp Prov last year, and it was really transformative.
Q: What is Camp Prov?
A: Camp Prov is a program of Providence Regional Medical Center hosted at Forest Park of Everett. It allows kids and young adults in the community to connect with a child who has a disability or a family member of a child who has a disability. It gives them a camp experience in a way that is catered to them … and helps them connect with people who understand what they’re going through.
Q: What is it about autism and dyslexia that draw you?
A: My brother has dyslexia. So I’ve seen how that’s impacted him in school. Essentially you’re told to just deal with it and the more you read, the easier it will get. … It’s the same with autism. “Figure it out.” If anything, I just really want to give families an explanation.
Q: What else about neurobiology appeals to you?
A: In studying neurobiology or becoming a neurosurgeon, No. 1, I’m always going to be fulfilled, because I’ll be helping people. And No. 2, it’s something you can pursue for a lifetime. When you’re studying the brain, something we know so little about, I could hit a dead end but I can always keep going.
Q: What classes did you take this year?
A: This year I wanted to focus on packing in the (college-level Advanced Placement) classes. I took AP English Composition, AP U.S. History, AP Chemistry and AP Calculus. It’s been a difficult load. But I’ve also made it to the end of the school year. And looking back, if I didn’t make it, look at what I would have all missed. They’re also great college prep.
Q: I see you’ve also been involved in a lot beyond classes, namely speech and debate, music and German. You say your teachers and coaches have all been mentors to you and inspired you. What do you like about clubs?
A: The sense of community you get in clubs is what I was after when I came into high school, and they really gave that to me. They gave me new insights and made me a better person. …
In extemporaneous public speaking, I’ve had to address issues we don’t like to talk about. It’s really molded me. Speech and debate is something that flies under the radar; it’s taught me I can celebrate for myself. And it’s taught me issues are rarely one-sided.
And music and German it was the same thing. They’ve given me new perspectives I wouldn’t have otherwise.
I really, really think they were the defining factor in my time at SHS.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: Some of my favorite things to do are still tied to school clubs, but I love them. I have the privilege the last two years volunteering at the elementary level teaching German to little kids. I go the middle school on Thursdays to coach the next generation of speech and debate.
I really love to get out and hike — especially this time of year in the Northwest. I just went to Trout Lake. And, of course, I like spending time with my mom. And then I have a group of girlfriends. We call ourselves The Squad. We have matching tie-dye shirts and matching hats. When we get together we just sort of have immediate stress relief. I think honestly that’s how I can stay sane this year.
Q: What advice would you give a teen who will be starting high school?
A: The thing I would tell them is to just do it. … High school is just a phase. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of that? Take the opportunities you’re given, because for the rest of your life these opportunities aren’t going to be free … The network of friends, the confidence, the connections and life skills I have because of it are really invaluable. People pass things up way too often that could really transform their life.
Melissa Slager: email@example.com, 425-339-3432.