Meet Natasha Rolleston — she's a recent graduate from Cariboo Hill Secondary and was one of our #grad2020 influencers. Last summer, she was nominated by her school based on her leadership skills, academic achievement and community involvement.
Saying that she was a remarkable student would be an understatement. In addition to balancing homework and a social life, Natasha was the lead editor for the yearbook team, grad council chair, a mentor for the school's mentorship program and a peer tutor. She was also a member of the DSAC — the Fine Arts Council and Youth Action Committee.
Natasha comes from a diverse family — her dad moved to Canada from Northern Ireland when he was 21 and her mom is Chinese and South African. She also has an older sister who is entering her third year of university this September.
Now that Natasha has officially graduated, we got to chat about her high school experience. We asked her about everything from her favourite memories, to advice for other students, to plans after grad. We also talked about what it was like to be a #covidgrad and how the current pandemic has impacted her. Here are some of the highlights:
How would you describe your high school experience?
"My high school experience has been amazing. I have participated in so many fun activities and events held at my school—like Carniboo and the Ho Ho Hoedown—and I have become so close with my best friends over the past 5 years. There have been many stressful times as tests, projects, and homework pile up, but I have always viewed high school as a positive and impactful experience in my life. Every event in high school has really shaped me into the person I am today"
How does it feel to be graduating?
"It is honestly really weird. I can't actually imagine myself as one of the "older kids." Also, YES — I am terrified, but I am more excited about what the future will bring. I'm nervous but in the best way possible :)"
What advice would you give students who are just entering high school?
"After 13 years of school, I still haven't figured every little thing out! Don't make things hard on yourself, you should have fun while you don't get as much homework as the grade twelves! Join different clubs, play on sports teams even if you're not the greatest athlete, and talk to new people. You aren't going to have every class with your childhood best friend, so try to talk to new people and expand your social circle. You will meet amazing people by going out of your comfort zone and starting a conversation"
How was your Artona experience?
"Working behind the scenes with Artona has been an incredible experience. When I was asked to join the influencer program, I remember feeling excited but worried about how it would fit with my schedule. At the time, I was still working two jobs alongside my extra-curriculars and school work. After making my decision to accept the offer, I was welcomed by Amanda Rak. I was 16 when entering the program, so I felt a bit nervous.
Throughout the year, Amanda always treated me with the utmost kindness. She always checked in on me and made sure I never felt overwhelmed. I felt supported by her both in and out of the program. She was always so helpful, understanding, and generous.
When I came for the influencer photo session, the photographer, Sarah Virag, spent nearly two hours showing me around the studio, photographing my friends and me, as well as explaining how the Artona experience plays out. She was so genuine and helped me feel comfortable stepping outside of my comfort zone. Sarah was so patient, charismatic, and creative. It was my first time ever being photographed and it was an amazing experience.
Some of my photos from my influencer grad session were also used in advertising, which is when I met Kristal! She was always so fast to respond to my inquiries and extremely charismatic. Kristal is the reason I was able to do this blog post and various other social media posts.
Kristal and Amanda both supported me so much throughout my time in the program and I learned so much throughout the past year from everyone I worked with. I can not thank all three of these women and the entire team at Artona enough for this outstanding experience"
What has it been like to be a #covidgrad?
"Covid-19 has really changed my grad year. Missing an actual graduation ceremony and prom was something that bothered me but I never felt extremely upset by it. It wasn’t the greatest grad year but the experiences I had “pre-covid” are still so memorable and special to me. I have also never felt closer than now to so many of my friends since this pandemic started. Covid-19 has allowed me to reflect on my future goals and plans. I was also able to spend much more time with my family and learned how to drive!"
Natasha plans to spend the summer hanging out with her friends, baking and getting ready to attend SFU to start her Bachelor's in Education this fall. After her undergrad, she plans to enter the PDP program to become an elementary school teacher.
It has been an absolute pleasure working with Natasha over the last year. We have no doubt that she will be successful in all her future plans and can't wait to have her back when she graduates from SFU!
Want to learn more about our influencer program? Check out this post.