There are many challenges facing the Class of 2020. Graduating college and finding a job already feels like an uphill battle, not to mention rising unemployment, low job prospects, and an increasingly competitive job market.
Fortunately, I am one of the lucky members of the Class of 2020 who is walking off the commencement stage (albeit a virtual one) and into a fulltime job in my chosen field.
Success did not come overnight. It took many years of preparation and diligence to get to where I am today. But I believe I owe a lot of it to the choices I made about my education – beginning in middle school.
Time management, self-motivation, and love of learning are all skills I gained by attending middle and high school online. Graduating high school in 2016 from Wyoming Virtual Academy (WYVA), I was set on a path to achieve my dreams using the skills I developed and the support I received from my teachers, family, and classmates. By exploring this kind of learning environment, I believe more students and recent graduates can join me on this path to career success.
Time management is vital to a successful first year in college. As a fast-paced learner, the ability to accelerate through courses with online school equipped me well for college. By working through high school at my own pace, I could work ahead whenever possible, and devote more time to topics that were harder to grasp.
Coming into my freshman year at the University of Wyoming, I was already accustomed to making my own school schedule and being disciplined in my study time, thanks to the independence required in online high school. It was easier for me to plan out my days, and I knew what environment allowed me to focus and how I studied best – something I saw my classmates struggle with during the transition to life on campus. These are skills most college students learn in time, but arriving ready to go served me well, and will continue to help me throughout my career.
My dream of becoming an aerospace engineer started in middle school when I began exploring electives and career resources provided by WYVA. I found a career pathway titled ‘Aerospace Engineer’, and it piqued my interest. As I learned more about this field, I quickly decided this was the career I wanted to pursue.
I also had the opportunity to take courses such as Green Design and Technology, Engineering Design, coding and other STEM courses exploring other aspects of engineering. Taking these classes early on helped me decide whether this was a career path I wanted to pursue and helped me navigate the enormous course catalogue at UW.
Love of Learning
Fostering a love for learning goes a long way in motivating your success. Exploring a wide range of electives helped me discover many of my different interests. The ability to take concurrent enrollment and AP courses also meant I was able to enter college with several courses already counting toward my degree.
The wonderful teachers within the school were also pivotal in my love for leaning, always pushing me to do my best. I was encouraged to go on college campus visits and to explore college and career resources.
After graduating from high school, I continued my education at the University of Wyoming where I graduated this spring with my Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and minors in International Engineering and Honors. I was offered a full-time position with Raytheon following my internship at the same facility last summer.
I encourage students in high school and college to take advantage of every opportunity available to them to discover their passions and build new skills – be it unusual electives, advanced coursework, or even a different learning environment. My ability to successfully complete an engineering degree in four years while also working part-time and pursuing multiple minors is due to the skills I gained through online learning.
Miranda Threewitt is a member of the University of Wyoming Class of 2020. She graduated from Wyoming Virtual Academy in 2016. She is now working as a mechanical engineer with Raytheon Technologies in Jackson, MS.
To learn more about Wyoming Virtual Academyw, visit https://wyva.k12.com/