Fabiola Ortiz said she was hesitant about treading unfamiliar territory when she decided to change high schools her senior year. But now that she’s graduating from St. Charles North High School, she said it was the right choice.
She transferred to St. Charles North from Elgin High School because she felt North offered better academic and athletic opportunities. However, the transition wasn’t easy at first.
“It was pretty difficult because I didn’t know anyone, and I’ve always been a people-person and I like to talk a lot,” she said.
But she quickly found her footing when she joined the school’s cheerleading team, and also was a state qualifier on the cross country team. She said spiritual guidance from God helped get her through, too.
Her guardian, Deborah Adamczyk, said Ortiz has grown a lot from her experience in the last year.
“I’m very proud of her choice,” she said. “She chose the hard path and blossomed from it.”
The Kane County Chronicle this week is highlighting local high school seniors as graduation season nears.
Ortiz said the opportunity to attend a larger high school helped push her academically and on the field.
“At Elgin, I was the No. 1 runner,” she said. “At North, there were a lot more experienced girls [on the cross country team], and that helped me go on and qualify for state.”
Ortiz plans to attend the University of Dubuque in Iowa, where she hopes to pursue a major that will allow her to work with children, such as child psychology or working with children who have disabilities.
“I like to talk to kids. I want them to feel free to talk and not feel anxiety of getting something right or wrong,” she said, noting that her co-workers at the ice cream shop where she works often point out that she uses her “baby voice” when she encounters children.
When she moves into her dorm room at the University of Dubuque on Aug. 25, she’ll be the first in her immediate family to attend college. She’ll also be the first of her siblings to complete high school, as her younger brother is 13 years old, and her older sister received her general educational development diploma.
Ortiz initially thought about following in Adamczyk’s career path in the healthcare field, and said she was interested in working with younger children.
“I’m more pulled to understand them – how they think, how they react,” Ortiz said. “I think that interests me more than trying to help them become healthy. If you help someone physically, that’s temporary. If you help someone psychologically, that’s longer-term.”
Ortiz said she’s preparing to live on her own for the first time and said she’s learning how to cook for herself. But heading to college still seems a little surreal.
“I don’t think it’s truly hit me yet,” she said. “I’m excited to graduate – that’s what I’m more focused on now.”