Dylan Powell and Michala Robinson are enjoying their first few weeks of college life. The journey’s for the valedictorian and salutatorian began a couple of months ago when their time at Union High School came to an end after graduation.
Powell is currently attending Appalachian State University and is the Wataug Residential College, a learning community where everyone is taking similar classes. For Powell, it was an honor to be the valedictorian at Union. It was also an honor to be associated with the people he graduated with.
“It was an honor and something that I worked hard for,” he said about the feat which required help from family and friends. “I had a close group of friends who always wanted to see me succeed.
Robinson, the salutatorian for the class of 2015 is attending Campbell University and is majoring in kinesiology, pre-physical therapy.
“It’s starting to feel like home,” Robinson said. “It’s small enough where I can get to know people but it’s still big enough where I can get that university feel.”
Robinson said it was a big accomplishment to become one of the top students in her class, which allowed her to showcase her academic success.
“It felt really nice to have that accomplishment at the end of my high school career,” she said.
During graduation, talked to her classmates about perseverance and accomplishing goals.
“You may face adversity throughout your journey, but you have to try to overcome those things and use it to drive you forward,” Robinson said.
Powell emphasized that failure is an option. One of his favorite quotes was a Chinese proverb, “Failure is not falling down, but refusing to get up.”
“That was one thing I wanted to emphasize,” Powell said. “No one is going to be around to hold our hands after high school and where not going to do everything right.
“We’re going to trip, stumble and sometimes we’re going have to backtrack to find our way,” he said. “No one is perfect and we just need to keep our minds straight and just know that we can do it.”
She really enjoyed her time at the school, where she was a member of the varsity volleyball and softball teams, the Beta Club. Robinson was also Miss Union for the 2014 school year. Like Powell, she also received a lot of support from the community.
“What set Union apart from other schools in our county is the actual unity,” Robinson said while referring to the actual name of the school. “Everybody knows everybody and your teachers, faculty and peers actually cares about your success. That’s something that I really enjoyed being brought up around.”
At Union, Powell was a Peer Group Connection Leader and Beta Club. During his junior year, he was an Iron Spartan. Outside of the school, he was active with the Boy Scouts, which helped with values and leadership skills. Like many other students involved in activities, Robinson was challenged to balance her school work and her social life.
“It could have been easy to go home after games and stuff like that, just go to sleep and put off homework,” she said. “But I tried to focus on the bigger picture and my future and I knew that grades came first. It’s something that my coaches and teachers always try to remind me of.”
Powell stressed the importance of respecting teachers and building connections during the learning process.
The challenges of school required Robinson to stay focus, but overall she enjoyed the experience. It wasn’t easy and sometimes it was stressful, but she encouraged current and future high school students to not put their academics on the back burner and to think about the future.
Currently, Robinson plans to enter the physical therapy field and is also interested in pediatrics. She wants to return to Sampson County to give back to the community. She’s ready for what’s ahead and thanked her parents, Wayne and Mona Robinson for their support along the way.
“My parents were a really big help in making sure that I stay focused and they kept me involved in different things inside and outside of school.”
Powell is currently undecided on a major, but helping people is in his future too.
“Whatever I do in life, if it’s in a big way or little way, I want to make sure that I help others,” Powell said.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.