Prep Elite: In Their Own Words

Four Saint Paul students tell us about their dreams, their influences and who would play them in a Netflix series.
Left to right: David Moberg, Eleanor O’Callaghan, Lily Finn

Student: Lily Finn
School: Visitation

Extracurriculars: Captain of the varsity volleyball team, starter on the varsity lacrosse team, spring blood drive coordinator, member of the Leadership Committee.

Happiness factor: Numerous things make me happy. First of all, my family, including my five pets. I am very close with my parents and older brother and love them more than anything. My friends, school and sports bring me a lot of joy. During my sports’ seasons, my teammates and I develop bonds that you cannot find anywhere else.

Chasing the dream: When I was in kindergarten, I wanted to be a veterinarian. More specifically, I wanted to be the first veterinarian artist to land foot on the moon because of my deep love for animals, art and space!  Today, I still aspire to be in the biological field either as a veterinarian, biologist or pediatrician.

Making memories: One of my favorite childhood memories is going horseback riding at my cabin in northern Minnesota. We used to go to a nearby ranch, right in the middle of the woods, so you were able to ride through the trees and fields and streams.  One of my favorite memories from high school is my junior retreat. Our entire class went to an overnight camp for one night and became closer than I ever thought we could. Throughout the retreat, we opened up to one another and shared things about ourselves that no one knew. I discovered new things about people I have known for three years and became close friends with people whom I only used to see as my classmates.

Person of influence:
My mom has really helped shape my view of the world because she is so inspiring. She really helps me see what the most important things in life are; my family, friends, health and what makes me happy. She constantly advises me to be who I am and not worry about what others may think of me.

And if Netflix created a series about Lily’s life, it would be called…. "Life on the Finn Farm” because that’s how my house is known to our friends and family. The series would show my life with my outgoing and loving family!  I think Anna Sophia Robb would play me because people used to tell me I look like her.

Student: David Moberg
School: Central

Assistant director and stage manager for Central’s theatre program, trumpet player in school jazz band, symphonic band and orchestra. NHS member. Past volunteer at Minnesota History Center as a member of the teen advisory council

Happiness factor: What makes me happy is making others happy, or more specifically, making things right. I am at my happiest when the people around me have what they need, when they are doing well and when they are having success.  Now, in my day-to-day life, what makes me happy are the little things like coffee or tea, getting enough sleep, snowboarding and hanging out with friends doing all variety of ridiculous things.

Making a difference:
  I hope to make a difference in this world in a practical sense. I want to go into government and I’m still naïve enough to think that government can make a difference in the world. I want to be able to reduce or eliminate obstacles to a better life for all people, irrelevant of their origin. So, the ridiculous long-shot dream job is being president, but that’ll obviously never happen. Probably. (Can I consider this my first campaign interview for 2036?)

Making memories:  Over spring break in 2016, the music department of my school took a trip to Chicago and spent a week there. We spent time playing jazz at the Field Museum, doing typical tourist things, meeting and working with professional musicians and generally having a good time with friends in the Windy City. To this day, it’s one of my favorite trips I’ve taken.
Person of influence: Many people have changed my worldview significantly and it’s hard to list them all. One of the most significant is my theater teacher and director, Emily Gill. I’ve been working with her for 2 years as a student, stage manager and assistant director. Working with her has changed the way I work in almost everything I do. She’s demanding, but not unfairly so; the eye is always on the final prize of putting on a polished, high caliber production. I had never considered actually continuing theater going into college, but now an accessible theater program is one of my criteria for potential schools.

And if Netflix created a series about David’s life, it would be called… "A Lesson in Contradiction.” I’d either be played by Peter Dinklage (the only actor with any sort of competence who looks like I do to some degree that I think is a good actor) or Neil Patrick Harris. He has sufficient energy levels to mirror my personality, and he does the kind of roles I like—namely, all of them, including Broadway musicals.  Hey, it’s a fictional Netflix series about me, as cast by me, so who says I can’t dream? And imagine that I have more musical talent than I actually do.

Student: Eleanor O’Callaghan
School: Central

Extracurriculars: Robotics, volunteering at United Hospital, 3M Step, working at St. Paul Pet Hospital, sailing

Happiness factor:
I’m happiest after a productive day, whether that’s in the robotics shop or doing chores at home.

Chasing the dream: When I was in kindergarten, I wanted to be a doctor because I thought it would be cool to walk around with a stethoscope and a lab coat.  I would now like to be a biomedical engineer because I want to combine my love for technology and medicine in order to build tools to help people. My dream job would be to design advanced medical tools to bring to Third World countries.

Making memories: One of my favorite memories is making my science fair project in third grade. My research question was “does grass grow better upside down or rightside up?” I worked with my mom and gardener grandmother planting seeds and setting up a box to test in. We had a lot of fun and it increased my interest in biology and science. (If you’re curious, grass grows better rightside up).  In high school, one of my favorite memories is winning the Dean’s List award this year at the Minneapolis robotics regional. It is the highest honor a student can earn in the program and it was such an honor to receive it.

Person of influence: My mother has shaped my view of the world the most. As a female mechanical engineer in a highly male-dominated field, she showed me that through perseverance and determination, I can achieve anything I am willing to work hard for. She raised me to never be afraid to ask questions, always seek a deeper understanding of the topic at hand, and to fearlessly pursue my passions. Without my mother, I would not be the woman I am today.

And if Netflix created a series about Eleanor’s life, it would be called… "Later is the New Now (Procrastination 101).”  Anne Hathaway would star because of her down-to-earth personality and casual confidence.

Student: Kayla Williams
School: Minnehaha Academy

Extracurriculars: Cross-country and track (All-Conference Honorable Mention, Most Valuable Teammate, Junior and Senior Captain; Classics Club, Amnesty International Club, caddying at Town and Country Club

Happiness factor: Things that make me happy – my dog, math (class and homework), being with friends who can make me both laugh and cry in the span of less than an hour, food, Grey’s Anatomy, Gilmore Girls and The Office.

Making a difference: I hope to make a difference in the world by making sure everyone I meet knows and feels worthy and feels heard. I feel that everyone in this world has value – I want everyone to know that they are enough.  It’s a large goal for the small scope of people I will probably meet in my lifetime, but I want to make sure that the people I know (even aquaintances) feel fulfilled and understand someone sees value and potential in them.

Making memories: This happened in ninth grade. The year before, I had not been very fast in cross country, but had been improving rapidly over the year. In Sections, which determines who participates in the state meet the following week, I fell short of placing by about half a second. I was crying, very upset about how close I’d been and how far I’d come “for nothing.” My coach came up and hugged me very tightly. She encouraged me, told me I had done the best I could and that would have to do. My favorite memory is what she said next: “Don’t cry. There’s a baby in here.” She gestured to her stomach. This was a great joy. When I see her daughter toddling around today, I’m reminded of how much joy was brought to me in a time of sadness.

Person of influence:
My teacher, Mrs. Beck, has shown me in many ways what the world can look like. She has traveled all across the world and the country, and tells us stories of her travels. Many students, myself included, go to her for advice or just a pair of listening ears and she is the first to advocate for students and their needs. Her passion for teaching, life and the art of story telling have shown me that the glass is truly half-full.

And if Netflix created a series about Kayla’s life, it would be called… "Hangry.” This is because I am at my worst when I am hungry, and tend to apologize after I have some food in me.

Zooey Deschanel would play me because I feel she embodies both my peppiness and my awkwardness together, and would be able to create a nice stark contrast from that peppiness to the anger that explodes to the outside world when I need a snack.