Meet The Star Students

By Anna Tabet


Pictured: Photos by Cecy Ayala,

We talked to these 19 local students, nominated by their schools and on track to graduate at the top of their classes, and found out that despite graduating in the midst of a pandemic, they’re all optimistic and excited about the future. While they have a lot in common, each is unique. Some are introverted and some extroverted; some like to study with music and some in complete silence. Read on to find out who is currently in flight school, who bribed her classmates with Smarties to win class president and who binge-watches “Divorce Court.”

Charlye Baker

China Spring High School

Plans after graduation: I’m going to Baylor [University] and majoring in mechanical engineering.
Best study habits: My biggest one is definitely prioritize and don’t procrastinate. I’m also a notecards and color-coding type person. My random study tip is if you have trouble focusing, sometimes sitting cross-legged in your chair helps you focus.
Best field trip: All of the trips I’ve been on in band have been great. We went to Washington D.C. last March. That was a ton of fun. All-State Band in San Antonio was really great too.
Favorite show to binge-watch: My favorite show is ‘The Mandalorian’ because baby Yoda is just so cute, and I think it’s just a really fun show.
Introvert or extrovert: I’m kind of in the middle, but more of an introvert.
Favorite emoji: I’m not really a huge emoji user, but I love all of the animal emojis. Especially the raccoon one. I don’t know, they’re just so cute.

Aimee Bowling

McGregor High School

Plans after graduation: I plan to attend Tulane University in Louisiana and join their honors college. I’m thinking of majoring in molecular biology to go on the pre-med route, but I’m not 100 percent sure yet.
Best study habits: I’ll highlight in my notes everything I think I need to know, and then I’ll copy it down to flashcards and then review the flashcards all the time. I type out my notes to get it down the first time, and then I write it down. It really helps me remember it.
Best field trip: I’d probably say when I was younger I went to the Mayborn Museum, and I was really excited because last year I had an opportunity to volunteer there, as like a mentor and sponsor.
Favorite show to binge-watch: ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ I love the storyline, and I’ve been with it for so long that it kind of feels illegal to give it up now. I’ve been watching since around season 10 and now it’s season 17, so I’ve been watching for about seven years.
Introvert or extrovert: Probably an extrovert. Part of it is I really love people. When I first moved to McGregor in eighth grade, I bribed my classmates with the candy Smarties that way they’d vote me for class president, and I got it.
Favorite emoji: He’s just cute.

Natalie Bull

Eagle Christian Academy

Plans after graduation: I’ve been accepted to Baylor. A program that I’m doing is considered pre-social-work, but it will allow me to get a bachelor’s in psychology and then a master’s in social work all within five years.
Best study habits: Make a study guide, just condense the information for what’s helpful for you. I tend to be more of a list person, so to have that information all available without looking at five different pages. Also, if you come up with really ridiculous ways of memorizing something, whether it’s an acronym or a little song for it, then your mind is gonna remember it better.
Best field trip: In eighth grade we did a traveling classroom. It was like a week-long field trip in a way to Washington D.C. I absolutely loved it up there. It was so beautiful, and just learning everything and going to all the different museums and all the different things that are part of our country.
Favorite show to binge-watch: I binged-watched ‘Fuller House’ a couple years ago. That’s probably the only show I’ve really done that with. I’m more of a YouTube girl. I love watching YouTube videos
Introvert or extrovert: Definitely extrovert. I love people, and I love being around them. That’s just where I thrive. Being stuck at home during quarantine is not the best for me.
Favorite emoji: I just feel like it’s really appropriate to many different situations. I use it a lot because I usually embarrass myself.

Caleb Chakmakjian

Live Oak Classical School

Plans after graduation: I want to get an undergraduate degree in either mechanical or aerospace engineering. I’ve gotten into Baylor and [Texas] A&M. I probably won’t hear back from Rice [University] or Vanderbilt [University] until the spring. But probably my top two are Baylor and Rice.
Best study habits: If I’m studying for a history test then I like to just read through the term sheets out loud to myself, because I tend to learn better when I’m hearing information. If it’s a math test, then I just wanna read back through my notes and maybe do some practice problems.
Best field trip: When I was in 10th grade, my class did a trip to New Orleans for four days. One of my favorite teachers was one of the teachers that went with us so that was really fun. New Orleans is just a really cool city. We got to have beignets at Cafe Du Monde. We got to visit Jackson Square. There was some really good food. We got to go to [The National WWII] museum and just lots of cool stuff like that.
Favorite show to binge-watch: I really like ‘The Mandalorian.’ Can’t really binge-watch it though right now because the new episodes are coming out a week at a time. But my family recently discovered ‘Agent Carter,’ which is a really interesting show by Marvel. It’s about Captain America’s girlfriend, Peggy Carter. It’s like a spy, mystery kind of show.
Introvert or extrovert: I am definitely an introvert.
Favorite emoji: I guess it’s kind of like me. I like to think about things.

Garrett Chollett

Bishop Louis Reicher Catholic School

Plans after graduation: My plans after graduation are to attend, hopefully, MIT and get a dual major in mathematics and computer science and go into the field of video game development.
Best study habits: Reviewing all of my notes the day before the test. Or if I don’t get a review in right before the test, just trying to review as much as I can when I have time before the test.
Best field trip: The best field trip I’ve been on was definitely my freshman year robotics trip to Georgia. It was a long car ride from Waco, Texas, to Georgia. So there are a lot of fun memories on that car ride. Spending the time in Georgia and competing was great in and of itself.
Favorite show to binge-watch: My favorite show to binge-watch is definitely ‘The Mandalorian’ because I already loved Star Wars sci-fi fantasy, and I like the new twist that adds a more Western kind of theme to it. So I like the crazy mix of genres that it has, and it’s an overall great story too.
Introvert or extrovert: I definitely share a lot of qualities of both. But I feel like I’m more of an introvert. I’m a lot shier when meeting new people, but I mean once you get to know me I never shut up.
Favorite emoji: A lot of times when my friends will say something that’s kind of out of pocket, I’ll just send that one like, hmm that’s a little crazy. I just enjoy how sassy it is.

Hannah Chu

Harmony School of Innovation

Plans after graduation: I’m not sure where I’ll end up for college, but I’m planning to study biochemistry on a pre-med track. My main choice right now is probably [University of Texas, Austin] but I’m also applying to schools like Emory [University], Rice and Vanderbilt.
Best study habits: I love to romanticize studying, so I like to plan everything out in a bullet journal. I also use Notion, which is an app and a website, and that helps me take notes. I also like to listen to the ‘Harry Potter’ soundtrack or ancient library sounds that I can find on YouTube.
Best field trip: I went on a field trip to Austin in middle school. We stayed at a really nice hotel with a rooftop pool, and that made it so much more exciting to see the Capitol and everything that Austin had to offer.
Favorite show to binge-watch: I’ve been loving ‘The Queen’s Gambit.’ I love how the main character, Beth, is written, and I’m a big fan of chess so it was exciting to see that become more popular.
Introvert or extrovert: Definitely an introvert. I can talk to people and put myself out there when I need to, but I do prefer the solitude of being alone.
Favorite emoji: I think that’s a pretty unique emotion, and I’m glad there’s an emoji to express that.

Larry Garcia

La Vega High School

Plans after graduation: After graduation, I plan to attend a four-year university and pursue a bachelor’s in finance or business administration. My top two choices are University of Texas at Austin or the University of Michigan.
Best study habits: Actually making time to study — I feel like that’s probably the most important thing. But once I actually do study, I prefer to do it at night, when everything is a bit more quiet and I have more peace so I can concentrate better. Depending on how much material I have to go over, I usually just go through all of it once, just read it over. And then I go through it again a second time and sort of test myself. Then go through it again one more time. It’s like a sandwich.
Best field trip: The best field trip I’ve been on was probably in kindergarten when we went to the Cameron Park Zoo here in Waco. I remember specifically seeing the fish. It just stuck with me.
Favorite show to binge-watch: Whenever I feel like binge-watching a show, I usually watch ‘Divorce Court.’ I think the people on there are just so outrageous. It’s good for a laugh or two.
Introvert or extrovert: I’m definitely an introvert. I’m very reserved. I think I’m my best self whenever there’s not many people around. Large crowds make me a little anxious.
Favorite emoji: I think it’s just a very good reaction. I’m always laughing.

Evelyn Guevara

Waco High School

Plans after graduation: After graduation, I plan on going to UT to study biochemistry. I’m waiting back to hear on their health science scholars program. After that I plan on becoming a doctor, specifically a psychiatrist, but my interests are everywhere right now so I could choose another option.
Best study habits: Making sure that I study the morning of. I feel like having that information fresh in my mind definitely helps me in the moment taking that exam or whatever assignment it is I need to complete.
Best field trip: The best field trip I’ve been on would definitely have to be my eighth grade field trip to Washington D.C. I had never flown on a plane before so that was the first time that I’d gone so far from Texas and the first time I’d gone on a plane as well. So that was definitely a fun experience.
Favorite show to binge-watch: ‘Black Mirror.’ It’s about technology and how it can affect us in the future. It was so interesting to watch. All of these things you can kind of see becoming a reality.
Introvert or extrovert: Definitely an introvert. My social battery can get drained very quickly.
Favorite emoji: It is so funny.

Zachary Hoelscher

Robinson High School

Plans after graduation: I will be attending Texas A&M University in the fall. I plan on majoring in biomedical science. After that, I plan to return to get a degree in medicine and open a clinic.
Best study habits: Listen, pay attention and ask questions in class. Because there is no time that you will remember or learn the information like the time that you’re in class.
Best field trip: I’m very active in FFA. Just last November we took a trip to Indianapolis, to attend the national FFA convention. So I was with six or seven other members of my chapter. It was a road trip up to Indianapolis, and it was a lot of fun. But there’s also ones that are a little closer to home that maybe have had more impact on me. For instance, we go to our elementary school and we bring animals, and we teach about agriculture and its impact. We try to spark an interest in as young of an age as possible because that’s the future of agriculture, even if some of them don’t know it.
Favorite show to binge-watch: I’ve enjoyed ‘Criminal Minds.’ But I really don’t binge-watch as much as I should.
Introvert or extrovert: I think I’m an extrovert.
Favorite emoji: I’m going to be at Texas A&M next year so that’s going to be my way of saying Gig ’em now, through text. And it’s just kind of a positive emoji and it helps spread positivity.

Emry McDonough

Bosqueville High School

Plans after graduation: I’m going to play softball at Baylor University, and after I get my degree — I’m studying nursing — to become a nurse.
Best study habits: I personally do a little bit of studying and homework every day, and I think it helps me stay on top of my homework. I do a lot of my work in the morning because I’m definitely a morning person.
Best field trip: My favorite was going to state history fair in Austin with my partners, and we got to stay the whole weekend there and got to explore around Austin and see all the different sights.
Favorite show to binge-watch: I love ‘The Office.’ I can watch it over and over again on replay every day. I just enjoy it because it’s funny. I enjoy the happy vibes it gives me.
Introvert or extrovert: I am an introvert. I enjoy my quiet time, and that’s my time to study, my quiet time. I like being around people, so I strive to be more extroverted, but truly I am an introvert.
Favorite emoji: That’s my personality. I just try to find things to be joyful about, and I always have a smile.

Katheryn McGinty

Connally High School

Plans after graduation: I plan on going to Tarleton State University to get my bachelor’s degree in pre-pharmacy. When I was younger I used to be in Girl Scouts. We did a STEM project, and I got to go to [Texas State Technical College] and learn about pharmacy and how to package medicine and that actually pushed me to become a pharmacist.
Best study habits: Literally rewriting all the notes I take outside of class. That way I can actually process what I wrote, rather than just try to get it all down by the time the teacher is done talking.
Best field trip: A while back, we were allowed to go to [Lake Waco Wetlands] and explore all the different bugs in the water. We talked about the different plants and how they worked together to make sure the environment stays cohesive and stays alive. That was a really cool one.
Favorite show to binge-watch: My favorite show is ‘Doctor Who.’ It’s a sci-fi show about time travel. It goes back in history and explains certain aspects that are important. But then it takes a twist and says, ‘Oh yeah, Pompeii happened. We were able to save so many people.’ And they were able to go and save it in another timeline. They like twist it a little bit so it’s interesting, but you still get facts about history.
Introvert or extrovert: I’ve always considered myself an introvert because I’m really shy when I’m by myself. But when I’m with my friends, I’m always the one pushing them to do things. So it’s kind of like a 50/50 depending on how comfortable I am.
Favorite emoji: Because I’m always smiling really big for no apparent reason. It just represents me very well.

Lily Norcross

Crawford High School

Plans after graduation: I plan to attend college and study nutrition. I’m deciding between Texas A&M and [Texas Christian University].
Best study habits: I just like to put away any distractions, like my phone, to focus more. I always need to put on music.
Best field trip: My best field trip is one time we went to a Christmas tree farm. This was in first grade I think. When we came back it was snowing, on the drive back.
Favorite show to binge-watch: My favorite show to binge-watch is ‘This Is Us.’ It just has a heartwarming story and really good characters.
Introvert or extrovert: Introvert. I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs test, which one of my friends was really into, and that’s what that one came up with.
Favorite emoji: He’s really funny to me, and I just use it a lot.

David Park

Midway High School

Plans after graduation: As of now, I plan to attend either UT or Baylor and major in some combination of political science and material science. But I’m not entirely sure yet.
Best study habits: I tend to get a ton of work done at school before getting home. I think finding places where you study harder is really important because studying ends up being a lot about good work, not necessarily hard work.
Best field trip: I think the best field trip I’ve been on was when I went to the zoo with the Spanish club. It was just a really interesting experience. It was really cool to see the zoo from a different perspective, being a little taller.
Favorite show to binge-watch: I think ‘The Office’ is a pretty solid pick. It’s a little basic, but it’s consistent so I like it.
Introvert or extrovert: I think I’m a little bit of both. I’m an introvert around people I don’t know, but I’m very, very extroverted around people that I’m comfortable with.
Favorite emoji: is a solid pick. It’s just very versatile, and you can use it ironically or for its actual purpose.

Karin Rodriguez

University High School

Plans after graduation: After graduating high school, I plan to attend the University of Texas at Austin, getting my master’s in civil engineering.
Best study habits: I usually make sure to read the whole material throughout. And I review all the material before either the test or the final, the day of or the night before, so that it can be fresh on my mind.
Best field trip: The best field trip I’ve been on was in AP Chem. We went to the caves. We went underground and walked around all the caves in Austin.
Favorite show to binge-watch: I guess my favorite show would be ‘Full House.’ It’s funny and a good storyline.
Introvert or extrovert: An extrovert. It’s pretty easy for me to talk to people. I try to talk to new people, and it’s pretty fun just to go out.
Favorite emoji: Because I’m always thinking everything is funny like 100 percent of the time.

Ava Sanders

Lorena High School

Plans after graduation: I plan on attending A&M and put my major as allied health, I know I want to something medical-related, but I’m not sure yet.
Best study habits: I get easily distracted so I have to put my phone aside, and I can’t listen to music like a lot of people. I have to make sure there is no noise. I’ll study for a bit and take breaks because I need mental breaks, and that really helps me.
Best field trip: In sixth grade we went to the USS Lexington in Corpus Christi. It was really cool because we got to stay on the ship overnight for two nights. We did things like scavenger hunts, and it’s supposed to be haunted. It was really cool to stay on the ship where the Navy stayed.
Favorite show to binge-watch: ‘Friends’ and ‘New Girl’ because I know them by heart so it can either be background noise or I can sit and watch it. They’re really funny and both revolve around friends who live together.
Introvert or extrovert: I’m 100 percent an extrovert. I’m really talkative. I can talk someone’s ear off, and I’m not shy or awkward at all. Also, if people are shy or feeling awkward, I can draw a conversation out of them. I can talk to a wall is what my teacher says.
Favorite emoji: Because you can use it for multiple things, if something is crazy or food is good. And it’s goofy, and I’m pretty goofy.

Cody Tindle

Parkview Christian Academy

Plans after graduation: I’m trying to first off finish up my flight school. I’ve been doing that for about a year now, and I’d like to wrap that up because it’ll make traveling to college a lot easier. I’m going to A&M University, and I’d like to receive a business marketing degree from there.
Best study habits: On my assignments, I like to do a little each night just to get a little bit ahead. It gives you more of a cushion to study and take your time learning the information. I will get my parents to quiz me and help me go over it sometimes.
Best field trip: I’d probably have to say the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco. It was a fun experience. It was all open, and we all walked around and looked at animals and talked with your friends. It was a nice day. I remember it was sunny. It was just all around a perfect experience.
Favorite show to binge-watch: ‘The Office.’ My mom hates it because it’s constantly on. But it’s just one of my favorite shows because unlike most shows today that are all so gory and they cuss so much, but ‘The Office’ is less graphic and kinda chill but a really funny show that makes me laugh every time I turn it on.
Introvert or extrovert: I would have to say extrovert. I love hanging out with my friends. I’m usually hanging out with my friends every weekend.
Favorite emoji: I use that emoji all the time. I’m not a person to text out a paragraph to respond to you. And I am going to A&M.

Camryn Trevino

Bruceville-Eddy High School

Plans after graduation: As of right now, I plan on attending the University of Texas at Austin, so I can pursue a doctoral degree in clinical psychology.
Best study habits: I don’t really have a set study routine. But normally I like to put on this YouTube channel called Lo Fi Beats, and it helps me stay focused.
Best field trip: Probably two years ago when we went to UIL Regionals; it was in Carthage I believe. Me and my friends got to stay in a hotel and play a lot of Cards Against Humanity. It was a lot of fun.
Favorite show to binge-watch: Oh my gosh, I love to watch ‘New Girl’ all the time because the characters are so different but funny in their own ways.
Introvert or extrovert: I’d say I’m more of an introvert, but I wish I could be an extrovert.
Favorite emoji: I think it’s funny. Me and my friends use it a lot when we text.

Elizabeth Watson

Vanguard College Preparatory School

Plans after graduation: I want to study a mix of humanities and STEM subjects while in college. I’ve always had a love for stories and fascination with history. But I’m also very interested in subjects like math and astronomy where science can be applied in a way that helps us learn more about our universe.
Best study habits: I really enjoy listening to music while I study; it helps me keep my focus. I also like to study a mix of subjects each night, just to keep information fresh. I also try not to procrastinate.
Best field trip: I’d say the seventh grade trip at Vanguard with Mrs. Flowers, our science teacher. It was a time when my class really bonded as a group after starting school in a completely new environment, and it was really special. It was various stops around Central Texas. I have a lot of great memories from that trip like climbing Enchanted Rock, telling scary stories and looking for constellations.
Favorite show to binge-watch: Definitely ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender.’ The animation is incredible, and the characters and story have so much depth that it really makes the series so much fun to watch.
Introvert or extrovert: I’m a mix of both. I love hanging out with my friends and talking to people and volunteering. However, I also like spending time on my own, reading books, writing stories and drawing.
Favorite emoji: I’ve always been obsessed with sword fighting scenes in movies, so it’s fun to have an equivalent that I can use whenever I text people.

Ty White

Meyer High School, Rapoport Academy

Plans after graduation: After graduation, I plan on going to college to pursue a career in mechanical engineering. I’m choosing between three universities which are Texas A&M, Texas Tech [University], and [University of Texas at San Antonio].
Best study habits: Usually I just create an outline of the required material, and I try my best to study throughout the week. But I end up usually cramming all of the material last minute. But I do try to be prepared.
Best field trip: We had a two-day field trip to visit two colleges in eighth grade, and it was really cool to just hang out with my class in a hotel and visit two colleges in the Texas area.
Favorite show to binge-watch: I always catch myself going back to ‘Psych.’ It’s full of humor and mystery, and I really like both of those things.
Introvert or extrovert: I’m really both. I’m mainly an introvert, but around my friends I tend to become an extrovert because I’m in a comfortable atmosphere.
Favorite emoji: Just because I really love humor.