Alumni Special: Three Roads Diverge in the Post-HS Woods


Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Sara LoPiccolo

Nina LoPiccolo, Shannon Major, and Catherine McClellan, best friends and 2011 graduates from GRHS, each traveled along her own path in life after graduation.

by Sara LoPiccolo, School Events Editor

After graduating from high school, there are a lot of different roads you can take. You can go to college, take a year off, and even go on some amazing trips with your school.

These three featured girls were best friends during their time at Glen Rock High School. Yet despite their scholastic camaraderie, after graduation  they traveled three completely different routes. And although they graduated just a short two years ago, they have a lot of advice to give for upcoming graduates.

One of the likely choices after graduating from Glen Rock High School is attending a college or university. Your college decision may hinge on whether or not to stay home or go away. 2011 graduates, Nina LoPiccolo, Shannon Major, and Catherine McClellan, were faced individually with this decision.

Nina, who goes to nearby Ramapo, faces the struggle of commuting. She lamented on traffic, flat tires, bad weather, or, as she knows all too well, running out of gas on the highway.

Although, there are some benefits; as Nina said, “I feel more independent commuting. I get to go and come as I please, make my own schedule, [and] pay my own bills. Even though I live at home, my parents let me make my own decisions, and even if it’s the wrong one, I learn from it. I feel like it’s good preparation for when I enter the real world on my own.”

Another option is going away and living on campus. This can help students focus, as they are constantly surrounded by their schoolwork, but it is hard because they’re away from their family, friends, and most of what they’re used to. Catherine, a sophomore at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, said, “A positive of going away to college is that you become independent and start to figure out who you are as a person away from your family and high school friends.” She adds, “A negative of going away would be that you become the youngest class again so you have to prove yourself all over again and reestablish yourself.”

Catherine is thoroughly enjoying her time at Muhlenberg, coming home as often as she wants and becoming more independent as a student and person.

Going away clearly gives one a lot of opportunities that she would not get elsewhere. Shannon Major, a sophomore at Elon University, is currently in Costa Rica with her school, studying abroad. She is doing things she never thought she’d be able to with people she truly cares about.

A phrase that she has heard a lot and has been recently using is Pura Vida which means “pure life.” On Shannon’s blog, she tells her readers about her adventures in Costa Rica.

When asked how she would sum up her semester abroad, she struggled to find the perfect words. She said, “Studying abroad has by far been the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life. You go to another country to learn about a new culture — which is amazing — but you end up learning more about yourself and capable of.”

Studying abroad might be a tough decision for someone who does not want to leave the comfort zone of their family and friends. Shannon said, “I left my friends, my family, and my country to go somewhere I knew really nothing about. Now, I have had the opportunity to learn a new language, live with a host family, and teach in an elementary school in a foreign country.”

There are many benefits that can come from studying abroad but a few sacrifices, as well. Shannon has informed readers in her blog that, since she has gotten to Costa Rica, she has not worn any make-up or jewelry because she doesn’t feel the need to. That everything there is so pure and simple. “I am able to realize what I took for granted while living in the USA, and I can also appreciate great things that the Costa Rican culture has to offer- things that my home country could possibly learn from. Every country, culture, person, and belief has something new to offer into my life and it would be a shame to miss out on all of that,” she said.

Shannon has certainly changed since her trip to Costa Rica. She says that she has become more respectable and open to people’s cultures and beliefs. She strongly suggests going on a trip like this.

All of these perspectives are very important to think about. Hopefully, in your time at college, you have the opportunities and realizations that these girls have been able to experience.

To read more about Shannon’s trip, visit her blog: