Outstanding Seniors Share a Hope for the Future

The best and brightest in their last year of high school, answer our questions with humor and candor.
Trevor Gifft

Every year we feature some knock-your-socks-off seniors who are dedicated to success in their chosen areas of interest. Whether they excel at sports or community service, high-level academics or leadership, there are many outstanding young people to choose from in our community. This year we get to know five extraordinary individuals and offer some insight into their lives, hopes and outlook on their world.

Trevor Gifft
Maple Grove Senior High

all his advanced level classes Trevor actually has a better than 4.0
GPA! He excels academically but you’ll also see him active in class
leadership. He’s the president of his school’s National Honor Society
and has been named Student of the Year in English, math, social studies
and physical education, along with playing all-conference soccer and
tennis. He’s involved at his church and as a Junior Rotarian but still
makes time for volunteer work.

  • Favorite subject: Math or psychology
  • Favorite teacher: Ann
    Boline (Advanced Placement Psychology) because she creates energy to
    make even the dullest sections seem interesting. Rob Bennett (English)
    radiates intelligence and provides the constructive criticism necessary
    to succeed, Matt Detloff (World History and Geography) inspires me to
    not only commit to excellence in academics, but in all aspects of life. 
  • Colleges are you eyeing? I
    am still considering University of Southern California, Vanderbilt
    University, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Miami,
    University of Wisconsin–Madison, and the University of Minnesota.
  • Career plans: Anesthesiology or Neuroscience
  • When I was a kid: I wanted to be that “cool” elementary school teacher that all the kids loved.
  • Favorite quote: “I cried when I had no shoes. Then I met a man who had no feet, and realized just how lucky I was.”—Persian Proverb
  • Favorite indoor activity: I enjoy reading, ping pong, and overindulging in Netflix series.
  • Greatest fear: Spiders are the scariest things ever to exist. 
  • Worst chore: You will never find me cleaning up an area that could potentially be home to spiders.
  • If I could learn to do anything: I would love to be a good dancer, singer, or player of an instrument.
  • If I were a fictional character: Yoda. 
  • Most favorite book ever: The Harry Potter series
  • I never leave the house without: Carmex (lip balm)
  • What I’ve learned about life thus far: Positive thought breeds positive action. 
  • My favorite piece of advice: “We cannot solve our problems with the same mindset we used in creating them.”— Albert Einstein
  • Trait I most deplore about myself: My consistent pursuit of perfection causes a lot of discontent in my life. 
  • Least desired occupation: I would hate to work in a cubicle. I couldn’t handle the constant feeling of restriction. 
  • Pet peeve: I get annoyed by people who complain of a problem but provide no insight as to a solution.
  • Last time I did something for the first time: I attended a swing dancing class.
  • What makes me angry: I hate when I let down people who rely on me.
  • Something I could live without: As
    useful as technology is, I feel it often deprives people from
    appreciating their surroundings. I wouldn’t mind a world devoid of our
    consuming phones, televisions and computers.


 Alex Ducosin 
Maple Grove Senior High

 Alex is a captain of her gymnastics team. She is also  part of her school leadership team, takes upper level courses and is a Junior Rotarian and leader in the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter. If you don’t see her out playing Frisbee every day as a part of the girls’ Ultimate team, you’ll probably catch her playing violin in the orchestra.

  • Favorite subject: English. I love writing. With science and math, it’s all numbers and formulas, and they don’t allow for a lot of creativity. That’s not how I roll.
  • Favorite teacher: College and career resource counselor, Mrs. McGrath. She really gives her all every single day for students at Maple Grove Senior High. I respect and admire that so much.
  • College I’m eyeing: Something in the northeast or southeast, but I haven’t really narrowed down any top ones yet. 
  • Career plans: English and computer science. I hope that I can be an author someday. 
  • When I was a kid: I dreamed of being an actress. 
  • Favorite quotes: “People come and go, but you’re stuck with yourself for the rest of your life.” You’re gonna have friends and you’re gonna lose friends, but you’re spending your entire life with yourself. Might as well be happy with who you are!
  • #1 most played song on my iPod: “Partition” by Beyonce. I’m listening to her 24/7, so her albums are on constant repeat. 
  • If I could learn to do anything: I’d learn to hula.
  • My name: My mom named me Alexandra because it means “defender of mankind”, which we both agree is pretty cool. 
  • Greatest fear: That I’ll regret not taking a risk. I’d rather risk making a mistake than spend my life playing it safe but never actually living. 
  • Trait I most deplore about myself: I wish I wasn’t so hard on myself all the time. 
  • Occupation I’d least like: I don’t ever want to end up working in a cubicle or at some repetitive and tedious job, even if I’m making bank. If I’m miserable, no amount of money could make unhappiness worth it. 
  • Last time I did something for the first time: This past weekend I went swing dancing. It was so much fun and I had an absolute blast! 



Hamzeh Salti
Osseo Senior High

Leadership is something that Hamzeh handles naturally. “I recently was invited to attend the core planning committee our school district hosts where I got to work with other figures who care immensely about improving the district,” he says. Besides carrying a near perfect GPA and being treasurer of the National Honor Society, Hamzeh has also received a number of awards including “High Honor Student” and “Varsity Rookie of the Year” as a first year wrestler. All this and he holds down a part-time job in the produce section at Target.

  • Favorite subject: Pre-calculus. I enjoy math because, to me, math is one giant puzzle and I love to solve these types of puzzles.
  • Favorite teachers: Mr. Davis (High Performance Pre-calculus). What makes him stand out is his energy and he makes learning fun and interesting.
  • College I’m eyeing: the University of Wisconsin-Madison 
  • Career plans: Biomedical Engineering. I discovered my passion by Legos and building blocks when I was little. I always like being able to make such interesting things. Just last summer I was able to build my very own computer– I find it fascinating.
  • When I was a little kid: I always thought spies were the coolest things ever. The movie Spy Kids inspired a younger me to become the best top secret FBI agent and go on super cool secret missions, drive spy cars and have my own personal spy tools.
  • Worst chore: Grocery shopping. There's just too many options to choose from in a single aisle of shopping, let alone the entire store.
  • If I could learn to do anything: I would learn to play the drums.
  • If I could be any fictional character: Ezio Auditore, from the Assassin's Creed series, because he got to meet Leonardo DeVinci. Also, because he's a ninja.
  • First thing I bought with my own money: A very nice haircut.
  • Most favorite book ever: The only book that has ever gotten me out of my chair and actually repeat "no, no, no" was The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. 
  • My name: I was named after my grandpa on my father’s side who was named after his grandpa as well.
  • I never leave the house without: My iPhone
  • What I’ve learned about myself thus far: I can be a very persistent, determined, and (quite frankly) sometimes stubborn whenever I have a goal set in mind. 
  • Most marked characteristic: How friendly and agreeable I am and easy to make friends with.
  • My advice to the world: You get out of life as much as you put into it. 
  • Greatest fear: I have an irrational fear of heights.
  • Something surprising: I am still a giant Pokémon fan.
  • Pet peeve: Whenever the volume (or any type of controlled number) changes, it has to be an interval of five.
  • Last time I actually did something for the first time: I recently learned to juggle
  • What makes me angry:  When people don't respect others feelings or personal interests.


Ashley Borland
Providence Academy

Ashley is involved in basketball and soccer, choir, national honor society, yearbook, peer tutoring, a number of volunteer organizations, and she throws a mean shot put and discus. “Ashley is a committed student, athlete, and musician, and is also equally invested in giving back to our school and local community as a great example of faith and service. “ says Katie Lahti, former coach and yearbook advisor at Providence. Her commitment clearly shows; she exercised her leadership skills further this past summer as a representative at Girl’s State.

  • Favorite subject: Christian Life 
  • Favorite treacher: Dr. Kevin Ferdinandt (Christian Life). While teaching us the essentials of living life according to Christianity, he more importantly encourages us to decide what we believe instead of just telling us what to believe.
  • What college are you eyeing? I am keeping my options very open. 
  • Career plans: Theology, analysis of some sort, psychology, forensic pathology, and even becoming a nun or consecrated woman have been among my ponderings.
  • What did you want to be when you were a kid? A nun and a McDonald’s worker 
  • Most played song on my iPod: “All of Me” by John Legend.
  • Worst chore: Cleaning in general
  • If I could learn anything: Sign Language
  • Most favorite book ever:  Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
  • I was named after: My mom always loved to watch the soap opera Young and the Restless. I am not named after the character of Ashley, but that is where the idea for my name originated.
  • I never leave the house without: My phone and my wallet/purse
  • Most marked characteristic: Among my friends, I am known for my humorous faces, loud personality and dedication to my studies. I am also known to speak my mind and to be very opinionated. 
  • Trait I most deplore in others: Dishonesty and/or lack of integrity
  • Surprising thing about me: I have played piano for eleven years. 
  • What I laugh at on YouTube: The common clumsiness of random people amuses me… I can somewhat see myself in their clumsiness. 
  • Pet peeve: Chewing or breathing loudly, constantly "twitching" legs (mostly a guy’s issue)
  • Last time I did something for the first time: Yesterday, I honked at someone for the first time while driving. I found it pretty exciting!

Austin Greely
Osseo Senior High

is a part of student leadership at Osseo Senior High (OSH) where he
also plays football. He plays in-house basketball and is active at his
church, participating in youth group, teaching 2nd grade Sunday school,
serving hot meals at a local food kitchen. “He’s a positive force at
OSH,” says career resources center advisor Michelle Mazanec

  • Favorite subject: Chemistry
  • Favorite teacher: Ms. McComb (Advanced Placement English). She always has a positive attitude. Every day she motivates us to do our best.
  • College I’m eyeing: Winona State University. I plan to complete a degree in athletic training and continue to grad school for physical therapy. 
  • When I was younger: I wanted to be a professional baseball player and a sports broadcaster.
  • #1 song on my iPod: "Can't Hold Us" (featuring Ray Dalton) by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  • Worse chore: I don't like doing the dishes.
  • If I could learn anything: I would learn to cook.
  • Fictional character I would like to be: Harry Potter.
  • Best gift ever: My
    ‘99 white Ford Ranger truck, given to me from my nana and bumpa. It was
    originally my bumpa’s truck and he kept it in mint condition and gave
    it to me when I was 16. I love my truck!
  • Most marked characteristic: My red hair and outgoing personality. 
  • My advice for the world: Be grateful for what you have...someone else has way less and harder than you. 
  • Most surprising fun fact about me:
    I traveled to Australia for two weeks on a leadership trip where I
    stayed with a host family, snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef and held a
    koala bear. 
  • Greatest fear: Spiders