Seniors take new paths after graduation


Courtesy of Jack Palaian

Class of 2020 graduate, Jack Palaian visits the Saints Peter and Paul Basilica church in Prague, Czechia. This is one of the many places he visited while traveling abroad.

Carolyn Harty

As the countdown to graduation continued and students looked toward their futures, some seniors are searching for unique post-grad experiences.  

Senior Marin Henley is leaving Atlanta and plans to attend Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. 

“I didn’t expect to get into Trinity; so, I didn’t really think about it as a big option until maybe a month ago when I got an acceptance letter,” Henley said. 

After being stuck at home during quarantine, Henley’s desire to leave the country began to grow. 

“During Covid, traveling definitely sparked my interest after being stuck in the house for so long,” Henley said. “ Wanting to get out made me think, ‘What if I decide to go to school out of the country?’ and the more I looked into it, the more intrigued I got.” 

Going international works well for Henley, as Trinity College offers lower tuition fees and major-based learning, unlike some of the U.S. based schools Henley applied to.  

“Tuition is a lot cheaper over there than it is here,” Henley said. “Pretty much all the schools I applied to out of state, even after giving me aid, were still more expensive than going out of the country.” 

At Trinity, students take classes based on their major, rather than generalized education. Henley, majoring in religion, is appreciative about knowing what she wants to do when she gets to college.

“In Ireland, you only take classes in your major rather than just general courses; so, I will be taking more classes in my major than I would be taking in American school,” Henley said. “I get to take classes I’m interested in.”

Class of 2020 graduate Jack Palaian is a sophomore attending George Washington University, in Washington D.C. Palaian is taking a semester abroad this year, also in Dublin, at University College Dublin. 

“Ireland has been a blast,” Palaian said. “It’s very accessible and extremely small compared to the U.S., so coming from Atlanta, a city bigger than the country’s population, it’s very cool seeing everything downsized.” 

Being in Ireland has been a large cultural shift for Palaian, but he has embraced the differences and uniqueness of the country. 

“The people are very honest, and coming from school inD.C., it has been a huge shift,” Palaian said. “In terms of campus life, I went from the city to a more suburban, sprawled out green campus. University College Dublin has around 30,000 students, compared to George Washington’s 12,000.” 

Palaian believes doing a semester abroad was the right choice for him and encourages others to do the same. 

“I think going abroad is one of the best decisions I’ve made,” Palaian said. “I was considering not going and talked to my parents who lived in Europe, and they said ‘Look at what you have to gain and look at what you have to lose?’ The bottom line is, my friends I made in D.C. will be there when I’m back, but I’m all about making new friends and meeting new people. I had so much more to gain than I could ever lose, and Ireland is Ireland. How often do you get the chance to go live in another country?” 

Senior Simon Clouser is another student leaving the country after graduation. Clouser has been playing soccer since he was four years old and was invited to play in Castellón de la Plana, a city in the Valencian Community in Spain. 

“[Castellón de la Plana] is where the club, FC Odisea is located, and where I will be staying for ten months,” Clouser said. “I will be playing for FC Odisea’s residential academy team. They have recruited players from all around the United States and foreign countries to come and play.” 

Although excited to pursue his soccer career in Spain, Clouser expresses anxiety when it comes to leaving the country. 

“I definitely am nervous to move to an entirely new country, yet I am excited at the same time,” Clouser said. “The main reason I accepted this offer was because I wanted to place myself in an environment where I can truly focus. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone there yet, but that doesn’t discourage me to settle in and make connections.”

Clouser encourages others who are interested in following a path like him to keep working hard, and going above and beyond. 

“The best advice I can give to others is that you need to put in the work that others aren’t willing to do,” Clouser said. “When it comes down to it, you need to manifest what you want to achieve and go get it. It’s out there for you, even through the difficult times in life, if you stay loyal to your passion and stay committed you will achieve it.”