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Riverwood High seniors a pair of aces
by Bobby Tedder
May 22, 2013 02:27 PM | 3790 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Nathan Self<br>
Dressed in their caps and gowns, from left, Mason Brannon and Hannah Roels look to a bright future after graduation from Riverwood International Charter School.
Staff / Nathan Self
Dressed in their caps and gowns, from left, Mason Brannon and Hannah Roels look to a bright future after graduation from Riverwood International Charter School.
Mason Brannon and Hannah Roels were never meant to be just faces in the crowd.

At least, that’s what their respective bodies of work and future ambitions suggest.

One is intent to join the medical field; the other is focused on facilitating the economy of developing nations.

Again: not the type of goals that allows one to just blend in with the masses.

Graduation ceremonies for their 2013 Riverwood International Charter School class are almost at hand.

Neither Brannon nor Roels will be taking a year off to find themselves as one or more classmates will inevitably opt to do.

The 18-year-olds don’t have to. They’re already here.

Both agree; however, just how frightful being here — at this point in their lives — really is.

“It’s scary, not knowing what to expect, especially when you’re going off on your own for the first time,” said Roels. “But, at the same time, it’s very exciting.”

Brannon, the future doctor, concurred.

“You have to learn how to be independent. … It’s important,” he said. “I am scared … but it’s a good kind of scared.”

The classmates’ backgrounds could hardly be more different.

Yet, they’ve found themselves in some of the same classes at Riverwood multiple times — intellectual magnets as it were.

Brannon will soon head off to the University of Virginia, where he plans to major in biology and/or chemistry as a warm-up to medical school. He’s already working in a lab at Emory University alongside graduate students performing research on proteins linked to degenerative diseases.

“I always really really wanted to be a doctor,” said Brannon. “I think that’s been the biggest motivator for me.

“I have to make sure that I keep the long term in mind and know that, eventually, where I want to get to requires me to work really hard.”

Roels’ ambitions are also rooted in helping others — albeit on a grand scale.

She enrolled at Riverwood two years ago, following a nine-year stay in Botswana. She hails from a multi-cultural family that has actually lived in several locations around the globe. Competing for the Botswana national swim team and a well-lauded gift for music are just a few of her non-academic pursuits.

Roels, off to Amherst College in September, is intent to turn the economic plight of Third World nations around.

“I definitely want to work with trade … to be able to forge new relationships between countries less developed and those that are more developed,” she said.

Brannon and Roels, still soaking in their remaining high school days, left some parting advice for incoming high school freshmen.

“Challenge yourself,” was Brannon’s tip.

Roels emphasized the importance of “balance.”

“Find other things outside of school and pursue them,” she said. “That’s great for life … which isn’t about just books and learning.”

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