The future holds an exciting adventure for Oakdale High School senior and Oakdale Joint Unified School Board Student Representative Autumn Neal.
In the final weeks of her senior year, Neal has been plenty busy. She recently participated in the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce Job Shadow program, by spending a morning at the Oakdale Leader office. An experience which helped earn her scholarship kudos which will go to good use come fall.
“I was fascinated by the process of story and ad placement and how they relate,” Neal said of her job shadow experience at The Leader.
“Seeing it made me want to do it more,” she stated.
While she’s still unsure of what area of communication she intends to pursue in the way of career, she’ll get her start and continued education attending Biola University later this year as a Communications major.
“I chose Biola because it offers more flexibility,” Neal said of her University choice over some other popular locations.
While attending the Southern California campus, Neal will be a student of the Torrey Honors Institute. She’ll journey to the other end of the state to join her Austrian roommate in late August.
But before walking across the high school graduation stage in two weeks, Neal had one responsibility left to tend to on Monday night. As is customary, the Student Representative was given the task of conducting Monday night’s school board meeting.
Also in keeping with custom, the board as well as Superintendent Marc Malone offered words to the outgoing representative regarding their appreciation of service.
“She came to us with a level of maturity,” Malone told the audience. “She hit the ground running and only got better as time went on.
“We’re really excited about what you’re going to do,” he continued, “and we’re really appreciative of what you’ve done for us.”
Each board member made note of Neal’s academic and activity load, offering kudos for her ability to give 110 percent to each.
“I have a school background,” Board President Barbara Shook said, noting the cumbersome nature of the school board packets each month, “and I still have to struggle at times with all the information that’s put before us. You’ve done an amazing job.”
Following Monday night’s meeting Neal took some time to reflect back on the journey as student representative, sharing her appreciation for OJUSD Board members, school principals and a district which has little in the way of drama and community upset.
“Being able to communicate with people,” Neal noted as one of her greatest lessons from the experience. “I still remember sitting on my couch, sending the first e-mails was nerve wracking. I think it’s just learning how to communicate better.”
As for relationships built while serving on the board, she shared a special appreciation for Board Member Diane Gilbert and her interest in the student’s life.
“Mrs. Gilbert had a lot to do with that part,” she said of her comfort and ease serving on the board. “She made sure to talk with me before every meeting. Ask how my month had been and established that friendship.
“It truly was a wonderful experience.”