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Charlene De Guzman is ahead of the game

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Natalie Casas, Online Features Editor

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Her name rings out into the crowd and she walks across the stage, grabbing her diploma and shaking Principal Ed Schwartz’s hand. Finding her family, friends and teachers in the crowd, she grins, soaking in the moment that she’s been waiting for. Finally, she’s a graduate of DGS.

For Charlene De Guzman, this isn’t quite the full four years of high school. She is graduating a semester early to start her first semester at Aurora University in the spring. De Guzman did not initially plan on her high school career ending early.

“I thought I would graduate with everyone else. I mean, I’m walking the stage, but it wasn’t until junior year that I made the decision of wanting to graduate early. And I really thought I was [going to] do all four years and experience the high school life,” De Guzman said.

De Guzman said speaking with her friend Hibba Salim sparked her idea of graduating early.

“It was last year when my friend Hibba and I were talking about graduation. This was junior year, and she said that she was [going to] graduate early, and she was telling me all the reasons why she wanted to graduate early, and it made me think about the path I wanted to take, but not the same reasons as her. But I wanted to graduate early to have a head start on my career. And [obviously] graduate high school earlier,” De Guzman said.

De Guzman hopes to attend The University of Loyola in Chicago after Aurora University to get her master’s degree.

“My major is going to be nursing after four years at Aurora. I plan to apply [to] Loyola to get my masters, because obviously if I graduate early in high school I’m also going to graduate college early, but it’s still [going to] be four years since I start in the spring I end in the winter,” De Guzman said.

Deciding to graduate early meant she had to act fast. De Guzman had to meet with her counselor, get her parents and friends on board, and apply to colleges early to make her dream possible. She explains that once she told her parents, things began to take their course quickly.

 

“I also think that extra semester that I have I can work toward like having more experience in a job to earn money to go to a nurse partitioning school because it is really expensive, and I just want experience so I don’t have to be a registered nurse for a long time so I can be a nurse practitioner,” De Guzman said.

De Guzman is honest about her feelings toward high school. She shares the extra amount of work in and out of school she has gotten to prepare and what she wants to do for a career.

“Honestly I love high school, but it’s not like ‘oh my god the best four years of my life.’ [Be]cause in high school you find out who your friends are and what path you [want to] take and I’ve done a lot with the path that I [want to] take, including teaching and nursing. I even took classes over the summer to figure out what I wanted to be, and nursing is [what I want to do]. I love what I do [and] it just works. I’m [also] a nursing assistant right now,” De Guzman said.

Yet, De Guzman has prepared over the summer by taking some classes out of school to figure out what she wanted to do. Over a course of finding her true interest, she realized that,”everyone in my family is medical related.” De Guzman admits that another reason why she wanted to leave high school early was her want to be “ahead of the game.”

Also, De Guzman has visited Aurora University numerous times to finalize that this was the right environment for her to get her degree. A close friend inspired De Guzman to chose Aurora and De Guzman hopes to “follow her footsteps.”

As for being one of the youngest in college, she isn’t discouraged at all. She replies reassuringly that she will be fine because it’s not the first time she has been in this situation before.

“Well, I did take a class over the summer about this stuff, and to be honest, I’m not that worried, because the class that I went to was filled with older people and I was the youngest. So I feel like it’s not [going to] be any different, I mean the classes will definitely be challenging, but it is nothing that is going to be new because I’ve encountered a lot of difficult classes, and I’m always willing to take challenges to make myself grow better,” De Guzman said.

As for her path, she is initially influenced by her surroundings of her family, who chose a medical path also. De Guzman has everything planned and has outlook of determination to stick with her plans and finish what she started.

“I basically have everything in my life planned, I don’t know if it’s a good thing but I plan to follow it and not like let go of anything [be]cause I don’t like quitting all my plans. It’s [kind of] like you make it you do it, you start it, you finish it,” De Guzman said.

For the support aspects, her friends and family are on board and eager to see her success for her next step in life. She shares her own side of informing her family of her pursuit to finish early.

Father David De Guzman speaks on his daughter’s path and his overall supportiveness to watch her obey this plan.

“I figured that it would be a good idea [for her to] graduate early since she’s going to be in school for a while. She’s also learning to become more independent and wanting to prove to us that she can manage her time well,” David De Guzman said.

Her sister Jamaica continues to tell her thoughts on Charlene’s plans.

“I wasn’t surprised, she’s always told me her plans on [wanting to] graduate early. And my friend graduated early from DGS too and she’s doing well at her university.” Jamaica De Guzman said.

Christina Markovski, one of Charlene’s friends, expresses her thoughts on her leaving a semester early to pursue her career.

“When Charlene told me that she was deciding to graduate early it was the end of last year. She was thinking about going to Aurora University [because it] was much better for Nursing. My initial thought was ‘Oh no. I’m not going to have her in my life for that last semester of our high school experience.’ I was kind of panicking in the beginning, but now that she has everything figured out and in place, I am happy for her and the journey she is about to take,“ Markovski said.

Many friends of Charlene share their thoughts and hopes for her graduating early, however, they also will miss her dearly.

De Guzman has said,”I will definitely miss my friends”, but she will be close by, she will also, be walking the stage and go to prom here at DGS.  Her last words for her entire high school experience at DGS has to be “memorable.”

“It’s memorable, honestly. One word isn’t enough to describe all four years, but all [I’ve] got to say is that it’s really memorable,” De Guzman said.

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Charlene De Guzman is ahead of the game