Just days away from graduation, hundreds of seniors from Highline Public Schools south of Seattle went on a special “field trip” with Alaska’s Chief Football Officer Russell Wilson at The Museum of Flight. Joined by Alaska COO Ben Minicucci and NASA Astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, students were applauded for their academic excellence and encouraged to dream big as they define their futures.
“Today is about celebrating and supporting,” said Metcalf-Lindenburger, the first alumna of Space Camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center to go to space. “We celebrate the accomplishments these graduates made, and we support them by encouraging and modeling behaviors and habits that fueled our success.”
Minicucci and Wilson, on behalf of Alaska Airlines, presented a few exceptional graduates with scholarships to support them on the next leg of their journey. “It was very inspiring. I wasn’t prepared to be honored in such a way,” said Makena Halen of Choice Academy. “I’m still shaking.”
Danna Chavez of Tyee High School said she almost missed the event. “Today was amazing. I really want to thank Alaska Airlines,” she said. “Meeting Russell, who encouraged me to follow my dreams, was more than I could imagine.”
Each recipient has an inspiring personal story. After graduation, the students will pursue education and ultimately careers in diverse fields ranging from mechanical engineering to community literacy.
Wilson encouraged the students to face their fears as they chase their dreams – and to look for support along the way. “We all need to find motivation within ourselves to be successful, but it’s also important to have a strong support system that keeps us grounded,” Wilson said. “That can be family, friends or people we look up to.”
Although the speakers encouraged students to devote long hours toward achieving their goals, they also urged them to take time to celebrate their achievements along the way – and, most importantly, to savor the journey.
“This journey is yours and it’s up to you to decide where it takes you,” Wilson said. “Work hard, stay humble and surround yourself with people with the same relentless pursuit to perform at a high level. Keep the faith, keep believing.”
No Time To Sleep: Graduation celebration
Photos by Ingrid Barrentine