BELTON — New Tech High School’s top two seniors both hope to make
their mark in the scientific community after graduating June 1.
Morgan Callin was named valedictorian and Jessica Dickson salutatorian at New Tech High School @Waskow this year.
Callin said her primary motivation for pursuing the top spot in her class was a spirit of friendly competition with her sister, Alyssa Callin, who was valedictorian in 2015.
“We kind of have this ‘Anything you can do, I can do better complex,’ and since she was valedictorian of the very first graduating class at New Tech, I was like, ‘Well, I can do that,’ and I did,” Callin said.
Callin is the daughter of Jeffrey and Kay Callin. Dickson is the daughter of Angela and Joseph Dickson.
Dickson said she was motivated by a lifelong ambition to be an archeologist, and to do anything that would get her closer to that goal. After graduation, she plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin where she hopes to study anthropology and environmental science.
“I plan on pursuing my own research after I go through grad school to study South American civilizations, because I feel like they are under-covered in most aspects, including — mostly — religion,” Dickson said. “I’d like to study their religion and how it relates to the way they lived.”
Callin plans to take her scientific interests on a more technical route — she will be attending Purdue University in the fall pursuing a degree in chemical engineering.
“Hopefully, I’ll be able to work with GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and develop healthier and more sustainable crops that will be able to be taken to developing countries to help them get agricultural economies started,” Callin said.
To get them started on their scientific careers, both students have been involved in the robotics program at New Tech. Dickson has been the robotics engineering notebook editor-in-chief for the past two years. She has also worked at the Gulf Archaeology Research Institute, doing both lab work and work at archeological dig sites, and volunteered for the Bell County Museum.
Callin has been a varsity power lifter for four years, making it to regionals four times and state twice. She was president of the school’s National Honor Society for two years.
For students hoping to make it to the top of their class, Callin and Dickson recommend organization and diversification.
“You need to really keep yourself organized, because you get kind of wrapped up in starting high school and you’re trying to figure everything out,” Dickson said. “You (shouldn’t) let yourself get disorganized and lose track of what’s important.”
But Callin said that focusing too much on getting the best grades can hurt a student’s long-term success.
“Obviously academics are super important, and it should take a lot of your time, but you need to also take time to do other things,” she said. “Just as far as being successful in life and the future, you need to be able to have other things than just school.”