THS grads say they’ll head off to college
Northwestern University is where Heather Young will be heading in September.
But until then, the 2004 Tonganoxie High School graduate has plenty to do.
This weekend she'll make her way to Boston with fellow THS students who participated in debate and forensics to compete in the national Catholic Forensic League tournament.
And in late July she'll take off for Boston where she'll attend the Democratic National Convention.
Her summer trips tie in with her plan for a career in the political arena.
"I'm not really sure -- there are so many different aspects of politics to go into," Heather said. "I'm not really sure I'd like to go into office, but rather to do the behind the scenes kind of things -- like speech writing and finances."
During the past school year, Heather held an internship with the Kansas Democratic Party, going in twice a week to work at the Topeka headquarters.
There she helped plan events, made phone calls, put together databases and lists and sent out letters -- all while attending high school full time, participating in debate and forensics and working part time at Mo's Pizza. The internship opened doors.
"I had a lot of neat opportunities," Heather said. "I'm going to Boston for the national convention and they're paying for that, so I get to do a lot of fun stuff."
Her application at Northwestern was her first and only college application. There were other colleges and universities that interested Heather, but to save money on application fees, she decided to wait until she heard from Northwestern.
The upcoming move to Evanston feels good to Heather, who was born in the nearby city of Wilmette. Even after the family moved to Kansas when she was 5, they continued to visit relatives and friends in the area.
"Even now we still have some close family friends that live there and we go to see them," Heather said.
Heather's parents are Glenna Coldsmith, who lives in Tonganoxie, and Don Young, who lives in Massachusetts.
When she reflects on her Tonganoxie education, Heather said several teachers influenced her.
"Definitely Mr. Harrell," Heather said. "He probably saw the most of me all those years. And I really always clicked with all my English teachers, too. Both Mr. and Mrs. Harrell, even though Mrs. Harrell teaches eighth grade, have been a huge part of my life."
Steve Harrell said Heather has made an impact on his life, as well.
"She'll definitely be up there on the list of students I remember having in class," Harrell said. "They're all special, but I think she and I have shared a lot of great moments."
He wasn't surprised about her political aspirations.
"I think that Heather is extremely intelligent and has a great grasp of world events and kind of how those pieces fit together and where she fits into some of that," Harrell said.
Heather's maturity -- even when she was a sophomore and a first-year debater -- helped her play a significant role in the school's debate success, Harrell said.
"I think she's always been kind of mature beyond her years," Harrell said.
That was in her academic life, as well as her social life.
"A lot of kids just aren't focused beyond school, work, family and friends," Harrell said. "Well, she's got those kinds of concerns too, just like everybody, but I think she also sees a bigger picture out beyond the horizon."
For instance, her senior year's internship.
"She spent her senior year interning with the Democratic party," Harrell said, noting that she had attended the Iowa Democratic caucuses.
"That's just not your typical high school internship," Harrell said.
Heather was a pleasant addition to his classes, Harrell said.
"I always found her very easy to communicate with," Harrell said. "I love her sense of humor. It's pretty dry, dark at times. I think that way down deep inside she's just an extremely caring person."
On the calendar
So that she can fit everything -- and everyone -- into her schedule, Heather continually plans ahead. Right now she's busy trying to work as many hours as she can, and getting ready for this weekend's Boston forensics tournament. And then there's her social life.
"I book up about a week or two in advance," Heather said. "I like to see friends whenever I can. It's just kind of nice to get caught up with people."
Not only is Heather happy to have been accepted at Northwestern where, according to the university's Web site, 1,900 freshmen are selected from nearly 15,000 candidates, she's also glad to know she qualified for scholarships. The total cost for a year at Northwestern is roughly $40,000.
"The school gave me a $29,000 scholarship for each of the four years, so that was definitely pretty helpful," Heather said.
Her scholarship is based on financial need and merit, she said. In addition, Heather received a local scholarship from Community National Bank.
At Northwestern, Heather plans to major in English. If she doesn't work in politics after that, she said there's a chance she may go into journalism.
In case she goes the writing route, Heather has a good role model to follow. Her grandfather, Don Coldsmith, is a Kansas author and historian. Coldsmith, who is also a medical doctor, lives in Emporia where he writes historical novels about the Great Plains. And like his granddaughter, Coldsmith has his own ties to Tonganoxie. In the 1950s he and his wife, Edna, lived in the parsonage of the Tonganoxie Congregational Church for a year while he served as the church's pastor.