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Top grads 2012: Class acts shine at Auburn Mountainview
Editor's note: The Reporter salutes some of the best graduating seniors from each of the Auburn School District’s four high schools.
Best friends and strong leaders, Scott Ohashi and Heather Odell are ready to go out and make the world a better place.
It's their nature.
Outstanding in the classrooms of Auburn Mountainview High School, Ohashi and Odell are even more exemplary out in the community.
"I just love reaching out to others," Ohashi said. "I just try to make as big a difference as I can."
Ohashi and Odell represent two of the best senior students from a graduating class of 314. Both share many traits and common interests. Both are outgoing and charming, funny and crazy, kind and helpful, well rounded and bright.
Both intend to stay in touch long after they receive their diplomas Saturday. College will send them down separate paths but on similar missions.
Ohashi, son of Norm and Shelly Ohashi, heads to the University of Washington in the fall. A 3.8 student, he hasn't chosen a particular area of study but is leaning toward making his mark in the field of medicine or psychology.
"Or maybe become a physician's assistant to help others with diabetes," he said. "It would be real easy to relate to all those kids who have diabetes.
"I definitely want to be in an environment where I'm around people and making a difference."
Ohashi speaks from personal experience. At age 12, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, a stunning revelation given that the disease doesn't run in his family.
"It was a shock to me," he said. "I didn't know the consequences of the disease. I was kind of scared, you could say."
It's been a struggle since, he said, but the fit, active, healthy teenager has learned to manage his condition. He was a third baseman and captain on the Lions' baseball team.
"It's been tough. I've had my ups and downs, but I've just tried to deal with it," he said. "Sometimes I look at it as a blessing because I know it could be a lot worse. I take it each day as it goes and deal with it the best way I can."
At school and play, Ohashi has blossomed. Activities kept him grounded and productive. Like Odell, he worked in student government and on DECA projects – including a campaign that brought increased awareness of diabetes and the importance of eating healthy.
Ohashi and Odell also spend considerable time as youth group leaders at the same church.
"We want to help make that difference," Odell said. "It is what we are all about."
Odell, a 4.0 student and the daughter of Christine of John Odell, is ready to make the most of her opportunity with a scholarship-assisted ride to Pepperdine University in sunny Southern California.
She plans to purse a career in international studies, perhaps work in diplomacy or for a global nonprofit organization.
"I really want to find a career where I feel like I'm serving people with my life," she said.
Wherever life takes them, they will look back fondly on their years at Auburn Mountainview, where they have grown and matured.
"I learned to really be myself here, not trying to be somebody I'm not," Ohashi said.
"You have to be comfortable with who you are."
Odell added: "I've had an amazing experience. There's a sense of community, a big group of friends here. The teachers are amazing. They really care about students."