- Ansley Puckett
HHA Seniors Look to the Future
Updated: May 12
For Holly Hill Academy seniors, their days as Raiders are numbered. In two months, they will walk across the stage with their diploma and move to the next stage in life.
For many, they already have their mind set on the future, with college decisions made and preparations being set. Others are still anxiously awaiting scholarship decisions and working through the long application process.
“Applying to college is a really big step in your high school career,” said senior Alston Oglesby, who wants to be an anesthesiologist. “It's pretty much the next step. You’re saying goodbye to high school, and you're saying hello to college.”
Around 4.9 million students apply for college each year, going through the process of submitting personal information, academic records, and writing long essays. Afterward, scholarships and financial aid have another application process.
But HHA seniors’ journey to graduation and college begins years before, as early as 9th grade, when Dean of Students, Misty Mathis, begins working with them to start considering schools and looking at what they need to get into their desired institution.
“I start early with our students to make sure they do everything correctly,” Mrs. Mathis said.
When students meet with Mrs. Mathis, she advises them on best practices to keep up with involvement, stay on track to graduate, and get the GPA and test scores they need for life after high school. She also begins looking at what classes they need, what might be useful to them, and their career goals.
“From the first day of 9th grade to the last day of 12th grade, she is there to guide you and help you to get your classes straight and make sure you are on the road to success,” Alston said.
College applications start as early as August and go into March of the next year when regular decision letters go out for schools. During that process, Head of School Brandy Mullennax, Dean of Students Misty Mathis, and Assistant Head of School Susan Paramore work with seniors to help them navigate the sometimes complicated process of going to college.
“Starting in the ninth grade and continuing until their senior year, we work with our students on writing college essay topics and college resumes that include awards, community service, academic honors, athletic awards, work experience, and references,” Mrs. Mullennax said.
Not including Life and Hope Scholarships, seniors have already been awarded $320,000 in scholarship money and been accepted into over 25 different colleges and universities in and outside of South Carolina.
This year, Mrs. Mathis said there has been an extremely diverse group of universities that have accepted HHA students. The universities include the University of Alabama, Appalachian State University, Drexel University, Liberty, and more.
Seniors have also applied to local favorites like Charleston Southern, the University of South Carolina, the College of Charleston, and Clemson.
No matter which college they apply to, Mrs. Mathis helps seniors find the best route for them.
Senior Ke’Niyah Bailey, who wants to be a personal trainer, said Mrs. Mathis and Mrs. Mullennax helped her apply to Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, where she plans to spend her first two years after graduation and then attend the Medical University of South Carolina.
Seniors achieving their goals, whether that be going to college or pursuing a career, are extremely important to HHA and the relationship goes beyond senior year.
“When our seniors enter college, we receive their grades for their freshman year. Our students know that we will pick up the phone and call them to find out why they are struggling,” Mrs. Mullennax said. “There have been times we have asked them to come in and meet with us to re-set goals, build confidence, support, or just listen so that they can move forward toward their goals with purpose instead of drifting. Our students are family, and we want what’s best for them, and sometimes that comes with tough love and accountability.”
Despite looking toward the future, HHA seniors are making the most of their last year as Raiders. When asked what he would miss about HHA, Davin Walling, who wants to pursue a career in physical therapy, said he’d miss the Raider community.
“Everybody is kind of like family here,” Davin said.
The faculty and staff will also miss the seniors after they’ve walked the stage, but HHA knows they are ready for the next chapter.
“As hard as it is to see these students walk out of our doors, we know that they are well prepared for the next step in their lives,” Mrs. Susan said. “They also know that we are here for them if they need us. That’s what makes being a part of the Holly Hill Academy family special, and what sets us apart from others. Good luck Class of 2023 – I know you are ready!”