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Student voices: Moving on

If all goes as planned, this column will be published after I have graduated from high school. I've been waiting for this to happen for four years, but now that it has, I find myself asking: Now what? Obviously I have an entire summer vacation ahead of me, and I know that next year I will be going to college, but I still struggle to find direction with less structure in my life.

I have heard a slew of advice and motivational speakers in the past few months. They all offer information useful for my future, yet I happened to find the most inspiration from someone who didn't necessarily set out to give advice for students' futures. This someone was Zach Sobiech -- a Minnesota teenager who recently passed away from cancer. Zach's story became a national story as he recorded a song titled "Clouds" as a goodbye to friends and family. The song ended up reaching the top of the iTunes charts. A documentary about his life has also gone viral on YouTube and is the main way I learned his story.

I didn't know Zach personally but I still feel a connection to him due to us being the same age and being from the same area. A particular quote he offered especially affected me: "You don't have to find out you're dying to start living."

Zach's illness seemed to push him to make the most out of his life, which is evident through his music. However, he also sent a message about the importance of everyone doing the same, regardless of the conditions they are under. For me, this advice was the most relevant for my life after graduation. I am inspired to not wait around for opportunities or waste time but instead make my own experiences worthwhile, try new things as much as possible, and to not be afraid to take a chance on once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

Now I am eager and feel more comfortable moving on from the familiarity of high school and the town of Rosemount that I have known for my entire life. I am grateful for the friends I have made here and the time I have spent in high school learning, performing, and discovering. Next year I will continue this at the University of St. Thomas and remember Zach's message to get the most out of my future.