Valley valedictorians: High schools graduate top students with lofty goals

Two Snoqualmie Valley valedictorians were setting their sights on government positions as they graduated from their respective high schools Friday, June 10.

Kaylee Galloway, a Mount Si High School senior and soon-to-be Bellevue College alumnus, hopes to focus on one of her "four E's" in her future, energy, environment, education, or economics. Ideally, she’d like to work at the federal level, but “I just want to help wherever I can,” she said. “I want to help this world become a better place.”

Erica DeBrecht, a Cedarcrest High School senior, decided at a youth leadership conference in her sophomore year that she would end up in Washington D.C. "I just knew, this is what I want to do, this is where I want to be in 10 years." In the meantime, she will be experiencing world cultures firsthand. "Next year I'm going on a Rotary youth exchange to France," she said. After she earns her degree in international relations, she hopes at Princeton, she'd like to spend a few years in South Africa, too.

"I'm really fascinated by the culture, history, politics of Africa," she said.

Galloway receives her Associate of Arts degree from Bellevue College on Friday, completing two years of college coursework during her junior and senior years at Mount Si through the Running Start program. That accelerated education experience is just the start, though. She estimates it will take another seven years, maybe, for her to earn the degrees she wants, a bachelor's degree at Western, then an MBA and JD in a graduate school she'll choose later. Galloway chose Western because "everything started falling into place," she said. She liked the feeling at the school, it wasn't far from home, and she was able to get exactly the degree she wanted, for the future she eagerly anticipates.

Her confidence stems mainly from her parents, who she says supported her every step of the way and let her become the person she is today. "I would consider myself a very ambitious person, and a very hard worker," she said. Also, “I love school, I love to learn. It keeps the mind working, and helps me evolve as a person every day.”

She's been as active in school as her schedule allowed, doing community service through the National Honor Society and Natural Helpers programs, and participating in soccer her freshman and sophomore years, and cross-country in her junior year. She gave up running her senior year to instead coach a recreational girls soccer team in Issaquah.

Soccer has been a big part of DeBrecht's life, too. "I've played soccer since I was 3," she said, and has also taken leadership roles on her color guard and dance teams since she was a freshman. She has been in National Honor Society for four years, DECA for two, and Cedarcrest's Random Acts of Kindness club for two years. Some of her extra-curricular activities had to slide over time, to compensate for her growing workload with school work.

An honors student in Japanese, DeBrecht also took every social studies and history class the school had to offer. She also put in her time, coming in early several days a week to talk with teachers —"I live about 47 seconds away from the school," she said—and really paying attention to what they told her.

"When you're in the classroom, you have to ask questions," she added.

Mount Si High School named two valedictorians, but Angela McMillan-Major could not be contacted for this story.

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