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Caps, gowns and jitters

Alissa McDowell is a little nervous — and maybe rightly so.

The 18-year-old Clovis High School senior will double major in chemical engineering and mathematics at New Mexico State University next year. She hopes to earn a doctorate degree in biomedical engineering.

The thought of being a biomedical engineer can be overwhelming for high school student.

“I want to make sure I know what I am doing, because I can ruin somebody’s life if I mess up,” McDowell said. “I am just worried that I won’t understand everything I need to know.”

A mix of fear and excitement will be abundant at 10 a.m. on Saturday when about 390 CHS students graduate at Rock Staubus Gymnasium.

Senior English teacher Linda Waller said this year’s class can be characterized by their exceptional spirit. Pep-rally’s, she said, were well attended and the senior class energy was high.

“They’re so different, they have such a wide personality,” Waller said. “We have several students that you will be hearing from in the future.”

McDowell is a National Honor Society member, senior representative for student council and volleyball team member. The move to Las Cruces next fall will be the first time she will live away from Clovis, where she was born and raised. She said that her ambitions mean she will probably not end up living in Clovis.

“The small town atmosphere is real nice because you feel like you are in a safe place,” McDowell said. “It is real nice to have grown up here, but a big city is where I need to be going.”

Freshman year algebra teacher Melissa Winn inspired McDowell to pursue a career in mathematics and problem solving, McDowell said.

Jordan Strebeck will pursue a double major in general business management and applied agriculture economics at Texas Tech University.

The student body president, NHS member and president of Fellowship of Christian Athletes said he passed up an acceptance to Duke University to remain closer to home. He admits he will miss having his mom do his laundry and his parents will not miss his messy room at home.

“My parents are probably excited to get me out of the house,” Strebeck said.

His fondest memory at CHS was the time he spent with his mentor Andy Sweet, who recently announced he will be stepping down as principal at the year’s end.

“I have never seen anyone who was such an effective leader,” Strebeck said.

McDowell will leave for college later this summer as will many of her classmates. She said the anxiety is calmed by knowing she has a vision for the future.

“It is nice to go into college confident and not wondering if I am wasting my parents money,” she said. “I am doing exactly what I want to do and many people in my family are engineers, so I am sure I am heading in the right direction.”

• • •

CHS Graduation

When — 10 a.m. Saturday

Where — Rock Staubus Gymnasium at the school.

Only people with tickets can attend. Tickets were distributed through students and faculty.