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One Veteran’s Journey from Iraq to Las Positas College and a New Beginning

July 17, 2014
Matthew Dierking

Matthew Dierking

“When the journey from means to end is not too long, the means themselves are enjoyed if the end is ardently desired.” Bertrand Russell – Mathematician and Social Activist.

One of the pleasures that we enjoy at is to share the tales of people that have overcome obstacles in order to meet their goals. While we actively seek out these profiles, sometimes they come to us. Mr. Matthew Dierking is a perfect example. Upon recently reading content in the Life in College series, Matthew offered to share his story. Matthew’s narrative is far from perfect. He has endured many bumps along the road. Yet, he was willing to share his journey – perhaps as a pinpoint of inspiration for those that may have also endured challenges in their lives. The goal: To make your life the best that it can be – today and for the future.

Matthew Dierking was raised in the Sacramento-area and his family moved to the Bay Area when he was 12 years old in 1993. This move was prompted by an employment change by his father who then began working with the Alameda Newspaper Group. By his own admission, it was a turbulent time for Matthew and his family. His transition into Wells Middle School and Dublin High was not easy. With some self-admitted “bad choices”, he found himself precariously on the fringes of even graduating with the required number of credits. With straight talk advice from his counselors, he was able to complete his required courses/credits at Valley High School in the fall of 1999 and graduated with a high school diploma.

Prior to his graduation, he and a friend had engaged with a US Navy recruiter. While it may have seemed like a “flyer” at the time, the recruiter was very persistent. And Matthew was intrigued. By the end of the summer, he was committed and was ready to enlist. He immediately was enrolled into boot camp and was subsequently shipped to the USS Blue Ridge. He was primarily responsible as an Aerographer’s Mate for tracking US warships and the weather patterns in the Indian and Pacific oceans. After an honorable discharge, Matthew took on several civilian jobs stateside.

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Ravali Reddy’s Stanford University Journey from Dublin High’s Valedictorian to a Wacky Walk Penguin

July 14, 2014

Ravali Reddy Dublin High School Class of 2010 and Stanford University Class of 2014

The next entry in’s Life After College Series catches up with Dublin High School’s Class of 2010 Valedictorian Ravali Reddy who recently completed a Stanford University journey where she graduated with the Class of 2014 as a Communications major minoring in Biology and Pre-med, with a job in waiting at UCSF/San Francisco General conducting health policy and services research as the primary research assistant for Dr. Renee Hsia. Ms. Reddy wrote about her first semester at Stanford back in November 2010 as one of the first Life in College Series contributors.

For students wondering if they can survive and thrive at Stanford, enjoy a life outside of the classroom, still graduate in four years, and find employment at the end, read on. With all the stories of students struggling to complete a degree on time, what was your path to completing your undergraduate degree in four years?

Ravali Reddy: “I was fortunate going to a private school like Stanford University because the graduation rate is incredibly high. For most people that end up staying a fifth year at Stanford it’s usually because they are double majoring, or they are athletes that red shirted their freshman year to retain four years of eligibility. Another popular option at Stanford is a co-terminal masters degree which is when you apply to a masters degree while you are still an undergrad, and if you are accepted then in your senior year you can start your masters while you are still an undergrad and finish your masters in one more year.

“During my freshman year I sat down and created four or five Excel spreadsheets of the requirements I knew I had to get through, especially when I’d decided to major in Communications, with a minor in Biology and pre-med. Sitting down and mapping out how to fulfill all three requirements, quarter-by-quarter as a four year plan, was really helpful.” What role did advisors play?

Reddy: “The advisors were helpful, but the thing that most kids don’t realize is that you have to actively seek out your advisor in college. Advisors aren’t your parents, they’re not going to call and check up on you, and make sure that you are finishing your requirements. You might get a mass reminder via email on graduation requirements, but it’s up to you to meet with an advisor and make sure your specific requirements are on track. Advisors like it when students are proactive, they want you to graduate on time, and it can be as simple as a quick ten minute meeting to confirm you are on track.”; Talk about your mix of Communications, Biology and Pre-med which on the surface seems like an unusual combination.

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Graduating from UCLA in Four Years with Internships and Studying Abroad

July 9, 2014
Dublin High School Alum and UCLA Graduate Deanna Hong

Deanna Hong

Meet Dublin High School Class of 2010 and UCLA Class of 2014 graduate Deanna Hong, the latest contributor to’s Life After College series of articles. Deanna first wrote about her experiences at UCLA in December 2010, at the midway point of her freshman year. caught up with Deanna at a Starbucks near Dublin High School to hear the rest of her UCLA story. With each article in this series a theme emerges; Deanna’s story highlights the value of internships and the entrepreneurial spirit needed to consistently land good jobs. We also learned about the magic of instant replays and what that has to do with “Elvis”. Fast forward from your original article on your first year at UCLA to how you settled on a major.

Deanna Hong: “When I wrote the article I said I wanted to apply to the UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television. At the end of my first year I was accepted into UCLA Communications Studies, started taking classes in that major and absolutely loved it. By the end of my second year I’d thought about it a bit more. I knew that I wanted to do video editing but I loved my communications classes so much that I ended up reasoning that a lot of people work in the film industry without a degree in film, and that my technical skills and experience would speak more than my degree would. I decided I should study something that I really enjoy so that if I decide to leave the film industry someday I’d have a background in another field. I ultimately graduated as a Communications Studies major with a French minor.” What role did internships play in helping you figure out what you wanted to do after college?

Hong: “All of my internships have been in video production, and it’s funny because I’ll sometimes feel that I don’t know what I want to do and my friends will tell me ‘Deanna, clearly you want to edit videos, that’s what you’ve been doing since you were fourteen!’.

“My first internship came from a mock interview during Dublin High School’s CHEE program. I ended up interning for two summers for Simpson Strong-Tie, doing video production. After my third year I interned for the YouTube channel Comediva, which is a channel for comedy written by women, with a mostly female crew.” What is video editing all about?

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Life at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo – from a Dublin Gael to a Seaside Mustang

July 7, 2014
Camille Chabot

Camille Chabot

Meet Camille Chabot, Dublin High School Class of 2013 graduate and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo rising sophomore, who is the 31st Dublin High alumnus to share their college experience. The Life in College Series provides a unique insight into college life, from Dublin students who have journeyed around the country and beyond in search of  higher education. Camille has previously contributed two articles to, Irish Step Dancing – a Community Tradition in the All America City of Dublin, California and Dublin High School Cheerleading – Much More Than Pom-Poms and “2-4-6-8!”. Camille was also named the City of Dublin 2012 Young Citizen of the Year. Here is her story: What attracted you to select Cal Poly San Luis Obispo?

Camille Chabot: “I was interested in going to school in Southern California, and I definitely want to live there in the future, so I was looking at a lot of schools in the area. Some rejected me, some accepted me and some wait listed. I went for a Cal Poly visit with my grandparents, and I’ve been to Pismo Beach a few times on Spring Break, and the campus really caught my eye. I also have friends who attend Cal Poly; there are a lot of Dublin High grads at Cal Poly with even more coming next year. I love my decision.” Have you stayed connected with Dublin High grads at Cal Poly or have you made a whole new group of friends?

Chabot: “Both. I entered school with my best friend Cassandra and we’ve tried to stay connected with weekly lunches. It’s definitely hard because we’re living in different areas, have different majors and different schedules, but we make it work. I also have friends with Dublin High alum who graduated earlier.” What is your major?

Chabot: “I am a Liberal Studies major, focused on elementary education. After four years years I’ll have earned a Bachelor of Science – Liberal Studies degree, and there is a 4+1 option that makes it possible to stay one more year and earn a teaching credential.

“We’re in the College of Math and Science because Cal Poly wants teachers to excel in math and science for the future. It’s definitely been very challenging for me because while I’ve always liked math, it’s been one of my strengths, but science not so much. In the fall I took a physics class, winter was chemistry and spring was earth science all as a series – same class, same students. It was definitely my hardest class.

“To get through the science classes I took advantage of professor office hours. College is nothing like high school, where you are taught everything in class. In college you have to spend your life in the library, actually read and understand the book, and then use professor office hours if you don’t understand a concept. It’s important to get used to and take advantage of office hours in college.” What inspired you to pursue a degree in education?

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Graduating from UC San Diego and Landing a Silicon Valley Software Job in Four Years

June 30, 2014

by Kirsten Koa (Dublin High School Class of 2010 and UC San Diego Class of 2014)

Kirsten Koa and her family at UCSD graduation

Kirsten and family at graduation

If someone had told me when I left Dublin to study Computer Science at UC San Diego that I’d later land a job at Google and get offers from multiple other companies as a Software Engineer, I probably would have just smiled and thanked them for the compliment.

Four years ago, I chose to major in computer science because I loved playing video games growing up and I thought it would be cool to learn how to make some. Even though I took a variety of AP courses at Dublin High, I went into college with pretty much zero programming experience. The most “coding” I had ever done was messing with some HTML/CSS code to make my MySpace profile look better in middle school. (Do high schoolers today even know what MySpace is?)

Anyway, I started out in the moderate-paced introductory class where we pretty much learned how to code photos filters similar to the ones you’d find on Instagram. It was a really cool and well-taught introductory class, but the transition from:

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Dublin High School Alum Emily Edlund Finds Magic in the Disney College Program

June 27, 2014
Emily Edlund outside EPCOT

Emily outside EPCOT

It’s a safe bet that you’ve visited one or more of the Walt Disney Company’s theme parks and are an experienced guest. It’s also likely that you’ve interacted with many Disney Cast Members, who are universally adorned with distinctive Disney Cast Member name tags. You may even have dreamed of working in a Disney park one day. For a select group of college students that dream becomes a reality, courtesy of the Disney College Program which provides students a unique opportunity to learn valuable skills in customer service and professionalism.

Dublin High School graduate and University of Arizona rising senior Emily Edlund is currently completing the Disney College Program in Walt Disney World, Florida. She graciously agreed to sit down with during her day off and share her experiences since joining the program earlier this year. It’s been a couple of years since you wrote your Life in College article about the University of Arizona; before talking about the Disney College Program, how are things going at school?

Emily Edlund: “The University of Arizona has been great. I’m currently completing a political science major with a pre-law minor.

“Taking six classes per semester, which was necessary because I changed my major and I wanted to stay on track to graduate in four years, has been difficult. A life-changer for me was buying a desk calendar. Right before classes start I read all of the class syllabuses and I write down the due dates for everything. That organizational step boosted my grades and makes me feel better – when I come home from school I know what I have to focus on and how to prioritize my time.” How did you find out about the Disney College Program?

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Life at Georgetown University – A Dublin High School Gael Meets Jack the Bulldog

June 26, 2014
Ina (left) with friend Adriana

Ina (left) with friend Adriana

by Ina Deljkic (Dublin High School Class of 2012)

On a regular December morning  two years ago, I was sitting at my desk, studying for my Microeconomics exam, when my mom walked in with a very thin envelope in hand and a serious expression. I tore open the deceptively small envelope and sighed, fearing the worst: a rejection letter from Georgetown University, my dream school. As I pulled out the folded white letter, I pictured myself walking through the historic front gates of campus like I had every day since I first set my eyes on the campus, a short year before.

My hands were shaking and my heart was beating as I read the letter, over and over again, in disbelief.

“Congratulations!” it read.

“Ecstatic” doesn’t even begin to explain how I felt. I was relieved to know that my four years of hard work in high school paid off. Weeks of anxious anticipation regarding the status of my application all culminated in this one moment. I was honored—honored that I landed on the right side of a 13% early action acceptance rate to Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business!

McDonough School of Business

McDonough School of Business

Not a day goes by where I do not look back on my past two years at Georgetown and feel incredibly lucky. I am lucky not only to be receiving such a fantastic undergraduate business education (Georgetown’s undergraduate program in Finance was recently ranked #1 in the nation by BusinessWeek), but also lucky to be living in nation’s capital, enjoying all that “the Hilltop” has to offer. I absolutely love it here. I love the constant aura of rewarding positivity that balances the challenging coursework, the unmatched energy at the Verizon Center after a 61-39 win against Syracuse, bumping into Vice President Joe Biden on the way to my Financial Accounting class,  receiving life advice from Warren Buffett and attending a lecture by none other than President Bill Clinton, a Georgetown alum! In addition, during my freshman year, I had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of attending inauguration with my friends. Even though I felt like a sardine pushed against thousands of other people on Constitution Ave. as I walked toward Congressman Eric Swalwell’s constituent gathering, it was a day I will never forget.

“Why Georgetown? Why leave California?”

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