In this week’s installment of The Leader’s special summer series, “Where Are They Now?” find out what is going on with two members of the Class of 2014. Oakdale High School alums Alex Keyser and Sabrina Franciosa have packed a lot into the past few years since receiving their diplomas at OHS.
This Class of 2014 graduate recalls getting into a squabble at the dinner table with his mother when he was younger: “She asked me ‘If you like arguing so much why don’t you become a lawyer?’ and I said ‘Maybe I will!’”
Years later, and Alex Keyser is at Georgetown University after graduating from UC Davis with a degree in Political Science ... studying law. He was able to get in and out of Davis in three years thanks to his AP credits, despite the fact that he also double-minored in Classics and History, joined an honors society, participated in student government, and learned Latin while attending.
He said he enjoyed his work in student government because “It actually had an impact on student life.” The Associated Students at UC Davis employs nearly 1,500 students with around a $13 million dollar operational budget, according to their website.
Keyser was also active in community service while at Oakdale High School and at UC Davis. Of his Oakdale involvement, he noted that he and his team “started a lot of the big ongoing projects” like crab feeds and garden clean-ups. While at Davis, he was part of Aggies for Humanity, which raises funds for international programs, and helped with fundraising and charity events while involved in Greek life.
“Just helping out the community is something I really like,” he expressed.
Though Keyser was heavily involved in college, he feels that Oakdale High prepared him well for what he faced.
“I had been writing the way (college) wanted me to write for the past four years,” he said, especially noting his AP government and English classes. He noted that the lectures felt very similar to what he was used to, but the one major difference he saw between college and high school was test-taking.
“I think Aca Dec especially helps you learn how to take a test,” he said of the rigorous elective.
He was part of the Scholastic students within the nine-member team, sitting at third-chair his junior year and second-chair his senior year.
High school seems to have prepared Keyser for college, but it helps that he knew what he wanted to do from an early age. In junior high, he was able to be an attorney in “Youth Courts,” where he could defend a kid who had committed a misdemeanor, while judged by kids his own age. He noted this as his “favorite extracurricular.”
Also at Oakdale, Keyser was part of S-Club, GSA, Interact, Ultimate Frisbee Club, Science Olympiad, Model UN, and Academic Decathlon.
For those entering, still in, or have just graduated from high school, he advised to make connections and maintain friendships especially when heading off to college.
“It’s all about the people you know ... keep in touch with your friends back home and have a group of friends to fall back on,” he guided. “And extracurriculars teach you to talk to people you don’t know so well and become friends with them ... it will help you survive finals and midterms and even when you’re just moving in and don’t know anyone.”
For now, Keyser will keep pursuing a career as a lawyer, one he’s known he’s wanted to have “ever since I had that argument with my mom.”
Though she went to UC Santa Barbara to study Chemistry, Sabrina Franciosa is on track to be a dentist. After her graduation from Oakdale High School in 2014, instead of studying biology in preparation for her future career, she leaned towards a different science because, as she describes: “math was always my strong suit.”
“I actually wanted to be a dentist since I first got braces in second grade,” Franciosa relayed. Even during high school, she shadowed Dr. Heiner to “peek over his shoulder” for a week or two and see what it would be like.
Though Dr. Heiner is an orthodontist and Franciosa is leaning more towards general dentistry, she wanted to get a taste of other specific practices. At college, she’s spent her fair share of time working at several different offices in order to “explore all the fields.”
She expressed that what drew her in was a mixture of patient camaraderie, quick turnaround in the field, and “how you could manipulate the teeth and make the perfect smile.”
She noted that her meticulous personality and love of working with her hands also helped her decide.
Before she traveled to Southern California for school, she was involved in Oakdale. Most notable for her was her time spent at Oakdale MMA as well as her involvement in AP classes while attending the high school. Franciosa also earned the Distinguished Young Woman title for the Class of 2014, and went on to compete at the state level.
“I killed my math classes … the math here was so easy for me,” she said of her university workload, specifically mentioning her high school teachers Moses and Coughran for their help. “And Simoncini just prepared me for everything here … not just material.”
Franciosa did explain how there was a bit of a rocky transition to go into a chemistry major without much of a science background, as the new AP Biology class was only inducted into the high school’s curriculum recently.
She also felt that having a job in high school “helped me manage my time a lot.” Additionally, after taking local classes at Columbia College while in high school, she felt she had “good preparation for what was going to hit me.”
One notable difference that Franciosa appreciated was that “it’s nice that you don’t have six hours of school … it’s like you have a few classes every day and that’s a big change but it’s a good change.”
“It’s been the best experience ever,” she added of her time at college, having just graduated a weekend ago.
During her sophomore and junior year at UCSB, she took part in the Global Medical Brigades, specifically the Dental Brigades, to serve in Honduras and Guatemala. They teamed up with doctors and dentists to travel to different communities to help locals. They worked within their concentrations and then also spent time building septic systems and bathrooms.
She’s now taking a gap year to finish up some pre-requisites at a local community college and work full time at Thomas Blake DDS. One of the downsides to choosing a major in Chemistry rather than Biology is that the former didn’t cover all the classes she needed for dental school, but Franciosa said she doesn’t have any regrets.
“It worked out,” she said. “I’m glad I did it … I think I enjoyed the Chemistry more.”
She then plans to continue going to dental school after and maybe even farther if she decides to go to school for a concentration. As of now, she’s looking at four to six more years of continuing education.
Altogether, Franciosa felt she was well-prepped for school based on her Oakdale experiences, praised the easier scheduling of college classes, and optimistically recapped that “getting pushed out of the nest” even helped her to excel.
Next week, a visit with some Class of 2013 graduates as the summer series continues.