Off the Beaten Track: Seniors Pave Their Own Unique Post-Graduate Paths

Most of our seniors will be going off to college in order to pursue their intended major or to discover what major they want to pursue. However, not all our seniors will be living the typical college life: these three seniors have chosen to lead quite different paths.

Eileen Billings, talented artist and Presidential Merit Scholarship recipient, will be attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) as a scholars student this coming fall. As such, Billings will have the opportunity to participate in a one month study abroad in Siena, Italy. While there, she expects to find inspiration through its medieval architecture as she continues her studies.

On attending one of the top art universities across the nation, Billings states, “In the next few years I am really excited to learn as much as I can about art and art history. I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to live in the heart of Chicago and attend such an amazing school, so I’m really looking forward to making the most out of that experience.”

Billings will complete her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts while attending SAIC and hopes to eventually become a professional artist afterwards. She considers West as her stepping stone to this decision.

“I never wanted to be an artist until high school.” She explains, “I took Drawing 1 freshman year just to get a class requirement out of the way, but I ended up really loving it.”

She attributes Mrs. Colleen Doyle, West art teacher, as the main person who motivated her and inspired her to become an artist. Having taken around six art classes over the course of her four years at West, Billings affirms,“I couldn’t really see myself doing anything but art.”

In a final note, Billings describes her experience at West saying, “There really is a place for everyone no matter what their passion, and from my experiences, teachers at West are really open to fueling those interests.”

She would like to thank “Mrs. Doyle for getting me hooked on art history, and for inspiring me to pursue art,” and also thanks her friends, family, classmates and teachers for their support. “Your kind words have meant the world to me.”

Ethan Cepuran, speed skater and second place winner for the Mass Start event at the World Junior Speed Skating Championships 2018, looks forward to preparing for his next big competition in Baselga de Pinè, Italy. He plans on taking time off from school in this coming year and, instead, focusing solely on his training.

“I’ve always wanted to be an international speed skater ever since I could remember.” Cepuran comments about his early aspiration. “I’ve been doing this since I was two years old and have loved it ever since.”

Cepuran credits his oldest brother, and now coach, as one of his biggest inspirations for pursuing speed skating. Cepuran will train with his brother for a year before attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Despite having always dreamed about being an international speed skater, Cepuran states that “it was about five years ago though that I realized that I had some potential to actually go somewhere with the sport.”

Since then Cepuran has won numerous medals and awards, and just this past season competed for a spot on the 2018 Olympic Team. While he did not ultimately make the team, Cepuran says, “it was still an unbelievable experience to be able to compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, from the crowd to the bright lights.”

Cepuran explains his commitment to the sport, pointing out that “there’s more lows than highs in this sport and every year it seems you hit more lows.”

However, according to Cepuran, it makes each high more rare and special the moment it comes. “Those highs are my favorite part of being a skater, because they don’t come without hard work and dedication.”

Finally, he would like to thank his many teachers, friends, family, and his counselor for helping him throughout his time at West. Cepuran comments, “If I struggled here, it only made me stronger, and that’s thanks to everyone that’s supported me.”

“Those stressful moments are temporary and if you learn how to handle yourself, you’ll be better prepared to tackle the future,” Cepuran states. “I hope that I can fulfill my dream in four years, and I want everyone to know that they’ve been a piece of my journey.”

David Morof, recipient of the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) Marine Option Scholarship, will be attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison this upcoming fall as one of the select twenty-five freshman accepted into Wisconsin’s NROTC program.

As an NROTC member, Morof will have the chance to lead a typical college life, while still pursuing his military aspirations. Morof intends to eventually become a naval aviator while also planning to complete an undergraduate in economics and history. However, he is also considering electrical engineering.

There are many intense parts to applying for military. Morof states that there are physical, medical, and academic aspects to each application while also including interviews with representatives or members of the military. Despite sounding intimidating, Morof successfully passed and is now looking forward to his time in college.

Morof states that serving in the military has been his dream since he was a child. Although Morof’s family has a long military history dating back to the Revolutionary War, he solely attributes his sense of duty as the reason why he wants to pursue the military track.

“I think it’s [that] I have a duty, I feel, to serve my country,” he says. “I feel like the best way for me to do that, and the way that would both be helpful to myself and to my country, would be serving after my collegiate life.”

Throughout his time at West, many teachers have noticed his interest in history and the military, but it is Morof’s history teacher, Mr. James Fornaciari, who was a major help to him in the application process.

According to Morof, Mr. Fornaciari wrote him a recommendation letter for the NROTC scholarship and was a large advocate for Morof throughout the process. Because of this, Morof would like to thank Mr. Fornaciari for all his help and encouragement throughout his years at West.

Lastly, Morof would like to recognize all “the friends I’ve made and teacher connections that I had at West. I don’t think you can get that anywhere else. They are some of the greatest teachers and greatest people you’ll meet at West.”


Each year West’s senior class boasts a wide variety of talents and abilities, and this year is no exception. Although graduation is just around the corner, these seniors will certainly continue their commitment to pride, excellence, and tradition in whatever challenges they face in the future. West sends its best wishes as these seniors trailblazer their own path to success.