Dowagiac’s 2024 valedictorian, salutatorian share Chieftains experiences

Published 1:51 pm Friday, March 29, 2024

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DOWAGIAC — Two Dowagiac Union High School seniors will take the commencement stage as the top academic members of the 2024 graduating class.

Abbey Dobberstein earned the title of valedictorian with a 4.0 grade point average over the course of her academic career. Hazel Kelly earned the title of salutatorian with a GPA of 3.958. Below, the two students shared their thoughts on graduation, their Dowagiac experience and more. (Note: This conversation has been edited for both length and clarity.)

How does it feel to be graduating soon?

Kelly: I’m excited. I’m ready to start something new. But it’s also kind of sad, bittersweet type of feeling.

Dobberstein: I would say the same. I’m excited for certain stuff in college and new experiences. This is the last summer before we all go off to different place. There are definitely some sad parts, like leaving my dogs and family and not seeing some people every single day will be hard.

What are your plans after graduation?

Kelly: I’m planning on attending the University of Notre Dame to study architecture.

Dobberstein: She’s gonna build my house one day. I’m going attend the University of Michigan and I hope to major in organizational studies with a focus on human capital and become a HR manager one day.

Where does your passion to pursue those fields come from?

Kelly: When I was younger, I always liked building things. I have always liked architecture and stuff like that. Last year, I took a class to make sure I really liked it and I really do like it so that’s why I’m planning on studying it.

Dobberstein: It was kind of a journey. Every few months since I was little I would say “I want to do this” and then I would watch a new movie and then “I want to do that.” Last year, I kind of figured it out. I really like working with people and I feel like I’m pretty good at communicating and I like to enforce the rules sometimes. I think it’d be something very good and I’ve heard it has a very good work-life balance.

What stands out most to you about your Dowagiac experience?

Kelly: I would have to say the community here. Everybody knows each other because it’s a small place but everybody knows each other and everybody’s mostly friendly. 

Dobberstein: It’s just been a great place to grow up in. Al of the big events  people talk about like the homecoming parades, winning our homecoming game this year in the last seconds, fireworks and all of the pep rallies and the big games. I did Miss Dowagiac and now I’m on the court. That was a very fun experience that I’ve wanted to do since I was little.

How did you balance your academics, extracurriculars and even your social life?

Kelly: I just tried to make time for everything and try to set myself a schedule. Time management was definitely key when it came to that. During the school day, I tried to get all my school work done so I would have as little homework as possible, so then I could do all my extracurriculars and whatnot after school.

Dobberstein: Just trying to find a good routine and staying on top or even ahead of work as I could because of sports and clubs. I also didn’t want to get too overwhelmed so I made sure I didn’t overwork myself because and gave me time to relax so I’m able to be in a good place.

What advice would you give to underclassmen right now?

Kelly: Have fun and don’t take it for granted. Just do everything that you can while you’re in high school and go to all the events and stuff. Don’t miss out on anything, just have fun and don’t try and rush it.

Dobberstein: Stay in the moment. Cherish every single game and dance because it does go by so quick. Have fun and try your best but don’t over-stress or overwork yourself.