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GRADUATION SPOTLIGHT | Redmond High School seniors excel in computer science, student government
Cameron Akker and Jazmin Diebler reach out and slap each other a high-five.
One week prior to their Redmond High School (RHS) graduation, the senior standouts are still celebrating something that happened three years ago. As sophomores, they were part of a group that pulled some all-nighters to prepare for a presentation about the history and literature of the Middle East. They nailed an A in a class that was tough to earn that top grade.
That was the start of their high-school career and now the duo is on the verge of leaving the bustling RHS halls and classrooms behind them and moving on to the next stages of their academic careers and lives.
The students sat down with the Reporter on Monday to discuss their RHS careers for our graduate-spotlight edition.
AKKER IS HEADED TO HARVARD
The 17-year-old Harvard University-bound student learned to write code when he was in seventh grade and “it’s just kind of gone on from that,” said the son of a former Microsoft employee. At Harvard, Akker — who notched a 4.0 grade-point average all three years of high school and as a freshman at Redmond Junior High — will major in computer science and also plans to focus on political science.
“Computer science is the future. There’s always new technology, new apps and new programs,” said Akker, who will give one of the valediction speeches at graduation, which will take place at 2 p.m. on Monday at KeyArena.
Akker is also fascinated with the efficiencies of hydrogen fuel cells, which he studied for seven weeks last summer in a lab at Stony Brook University in New York. Diebler was blown away when she witnessed Akker’s presentation on the subject in class.
While at RHS, Akker broke away from the computer screen and took an interest in student government and literature by reading “Dante’s Inferno” and “The Canterbury Tales.” Looking even further out of his computer-science box, Akker notes — with a spark in his eyes — that he may want to attend law school someday.
“You’ve got to explore everything and have a hunger for knowledge. There’s so much out there,” said Akker, who’s mentioned Harvard professor Michael Sandel’s “Justice” online course and may take a poli-sci class in person with him in the future.
Looking back on his RHS years, Akker said that he’s had the honor of interacting with many friends who have provided “eye-opening” inspiration each day.
“I like getting to know all sorts of people and hear what they have to say,” he said.
DIEBLER IS ALL ABOUT POSITIVITY
When Diebler came to RHS from Reno, Nev. at the start of her sophomore year, she felt lost in a sea of Mustang 10th-graders who already knew each other from junior high.
She shone academically in Reno and continued that at RHS, but it was tough to break into the social scene. It took about a year for her to feel comfortable at RHS.
The situation “taught me to be resilient and come back from what happens in your life and see the positive in things,” said Diebler, now age 18 with a cumulative 3.6 high-school GPA and headed to Bellevue College in the fall as the first member of her family to attend college. She added that moving on to the University of Washington is in her future.
As a junior, Diebler took on the role of new student ambassador for the associated student body (ASB) and began helping newcomers find their place on campus and giving advice to them along the way.
“I like meeting different people and it’s cool to help get them integrated into such a great place as Redmond,” said Diebler, who plans to study psychology and business in college and maybe join the Peace Corps someday. “No matter what I study, I want to be working with people. Helping people in their relationships and getting to the core of the issue has always been super fascinating to me.”
While on ASB, Diebler has helped put on assemblies, dances and fundraisers, including toy and food drives and the Color Run for Heart with the American Heart Association Puget Sound.
“Being in leadership gives you insight into the workings of the school,” she said. “You see all sides of the spectrum and you learn real-world stuff” like interacting with administrators, local businesses and handling money.
Like Akker, she’s had a full plate of activities and often gets stressed out, but everything they’ve done will benefit them in the long run, she said.
Both Akker and Diebler agree that RHS was the ideal place for them to learn and bond with others.
“It’s genuinely a family here,” Diebler said. “The spirit here is pretty special.”