Class Of 2010 – Where Are They Now?

The Oakdale Leader - - NEWS - By AU­TUMN NEAL Leader Cor­re­spon­dent

Clos­ing out a spe­cial sum­mer se­ries, catch­ing up with Oak­dale High School grad­u­ates from the past sev­eral years, the fi­nale fea­tures two mem­bers from the Class of 2010. Here’s a look at what for­mer Mus­tangs Michael Homer and Michelle Carter, now Dunn, hav­ing been do­ing since their days at OHS.

Michael Homer

This Class of 2010 grad­u­ate has taken some­what of an “un­con­ven­tional and per­haps me­an­der­ing” path since high school. Michael Homer, the salu­ta­to­rian for his year, has tried his hand at a myr­iad of op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Be­fore he went to col­lege and abroad, Homer played soc­cer at Oak­dale High School, and spent his nights and week­ends work­ing at Oak­dale Cin­ema back be­fore it closed down. On a lead­er­ship level, Homer was the Stu­dent Board Rep­re­sen­ta­tive, and was also part of the lead­er­ship class to help put on events and ac­tiv­i­ties. Aca­dem­i­cally, Homer was one of the al­ter­nates on the Aca­demic De­cathlon team and took AP classes.

“I also played in a garage rock band, but we never got dis­cov­ered,” he noted with a chuckle.

He spoke highly of his in­volve­ment in AP classes, where he made good friends and had teach­ers “who helped me de­velop intellectually and per­son­ally ... my fa­vorite class was Mr. Si­moncini’s AP US history class.”

This comes as no sur­prise to many past Oak­dale High stu­dents, who fre­quently high­light Si­moncini’s classes as their fa­vorite.

Once he grad­u­ated high school, Homer dou­ble ma­jored in Eco­nomics and Chi­nese at UC Berke­ley, study­ing abroad in Beijing one sum­mer. He also “in­terned at a non-profit in Shang­hai dur­ing another sum­mer.”

He de­scribed the move to the Bay Area as “a bit of a cul­ture shock,” given that he was so ac­cus­tomed to the small town at­mos­phere of Oak­dale, where peo­ple say “good morn­ing” to each other when they pass one another on the street. The in­crease in pop­u­la­tion, dif­fer­ence in so­cial views, and more added to this “cul­ture shock.”

Af­ter col­lege, Homer went out to ex­plore many dif­fer­ent life paths: “I worked at a tech startup in San Fran­cisco, stud­ied Chi­nese in Tainan, Tai­wan, spent a month liv­ing the as­cetic life in a Bud­dhist monastery on a moun­tain, and also taught sev­enth and ninth grade math at a pub­lic char­ter school in Em­pire, Cal­i­for­nia.”

Now, he has his sights set on law school back at Berke­ley. He com­pleted his first year and this sum­mer had been in­tern­ing for the le­gal de­part­ment at Splunk, a data an­a­lyt­ics com­pany in San Fran­cisco.

Stay­ing busy, Homer is in the midst of ap­ply­ing for a job at a law firm for next sum­mer.

“Next week I will have about 20 law firm in­ter­views within the span of four days,” he shared.

How­ever, he must be used to be­ing busy, given that he’s one of six kids from the Homer fam­ily. “I feel ex­tremely grate­ful to have had par­ents who are sup­port­ive of my as­pi­ra­tions and also in­stilled in me all of my good qual­i­ties. Each of my sib­lings is stel­lar in their own way too.”

Though he’s fol­lowed many eclec­tic paths, Homer ex­pressed that he wouldn’t change a thing.

“If I had not made the choices I made be­fore, I would not be who I am now. And I’m happy with the di­rec­tion I’m mov­ing in now.”

Michelle (Carter) Dunn

Some grad­u­ates see their fair share of the world and want to set­tle down else­where, how­ever Michelle Carter (now Michelle Dunn) de­cided that Oak­dale is right where she be­longs.

Dunn grad­u­ated with the Class of 2010, and knew ex­actly what she wanted to do. Thanks to pro­grams at the high school like ROP, she was able to nar­row down what she wanted in a ca­reer.

“I was torn be­tween den­tal hy­giene and be­ing an el­e­men­tary school teacher,” she re­layed.

The ROP, or Re­gional Oc­cu­pa­tional Pro­gram, is de­signed to give tech­ni­cal job train­ing for ju­niors and se­niors in high school. This al­lows them to go into the work field for a pe­riod or two of class ev­ery day and test out the wa­ters. Dunn was a teacher’s aide, and though she en­joyed her time “it helped me re­al­ize it wasn’t what I wanted to do.”

Den­tal hy­giene then ended up be­ing the clear path for Dunn. She ex­pressed that, un­like most peo­ple, she of­ten felt com­fort­able in the den­tal chair, as she spent plenty of time there for orthodon­tist and den­tal work.

The most rea­son­able and cost-ef­fi­cient path af­ter this was to at­tend MJC to get pre-req­ui­sites done, and then Dunn moved on to Shasta Col­lege in Red­ding.

“It wasn’t this big pri­vate school where tu­ition was four times as much,” she shared of her de­ci­sion to at­tend Shasta rather than other col­leges. “I just loved the NorCal environment and the history of my dad go­ing there.”

Al­to­gether, her ed­u­ca­tion past Oak­dale High School looked more at big pic­ture, as she had a plan for her­self. Be­cause Dunn knew what she wanted to do, she looked at the most ef­fi­cient and cost-friendly ways to get there.

“I was never re­ally a goget­ter and this was kind of the one thing that was my big leap of faith,” she ad­mit­ted. “It re­ally paid off, and it helped me to see that I was able to ac­com­plish a lot more than I thought I would.”

She still did get to ven­ture out of Cal­i­for­nia, given that her col­lege was a segue for her to go on a trip with Med­i­cal Teams In­ter­na­tional to Gu­atemala. There, she and oth­ers spent a week giv­ing den­tal care to a vil­lage “where some peo­ple may have not even seen a tooth­brush.” This gave her a chance to leave her com­fort zone and ex­plore a to­tally dif­fer­ent world.

Af­ter col­lege, Dunn came back to her home­town to do some temp work which is “pretty much like work­ing as a sub­sti­tute hy­gien­ist.” This gave her the op­por­tu­nity to work in a lot of lo­cal of­fices, see what they were like, and when an open­ing came around, she and the em­ploy­ers would al­ready be fa­mil­iar with one another.

As for com­ing back to Oak­dale, Dunn shared that “Oak­dale has pretty much been my home as long as I can re­mem­ber.” She and her hus­band, Blake Dunn, met when they were young in Oak­dale and their fam­i­lies are lo­cal.

“I think it re­ally does have a whole sense of com­mu­nity: I like how the whole town is be­hind the foot­ball team, there’s Mus­tang merchandise down at Save Mart, and it’s a day’s drive from the rivers, lakes, ocean, and moun­tains,” she ex­plained. “I can see us be­ing here for a long time.”

Dunn shares the sen­ti­ments of the class­mates af­ter her in that she wouldn’t change a thing in her jour­ney back to Oak­dale.

“The path that I went on was good for me – it may not be every­body’s path – but the suc­cesses and fail­ures re­ally made me who I am and built my char­ac­ter.”

She is one of the many grad­u­ates who find that com­ing back to Oak­dale is the best op­tion for them; grad­u­ates like these prove that our small town is a whole­some com­mu­nity that wel­comes its kids back with open arms. And that is some­thing spe­cial.

The Leader would like to thank all of those OHS grads who took time to share their sto­ries and life and ca­reer paths through this spe­cial sum­mer se­ries.

PHOTO CON­TRIB­UTED

Michelle Dunn’s time per­form­ing den­tal work for the vil­lagers in Gu­atemala in­cluded work­ing with in­jec­tions and as­sist­ing doc­tors. She was also able to teach lo­cals proper oral hy­giene and spend time with them af­ter.

PHOTO CON­TRIB­UTED

Michael Homer sent along pic­tures of his trav­els abroad. He spent time in Shang­hai and Beijing dur­ing sum­mers be­tween his first years at UC Berke­ley, cul­ti­vat­ing his knowl­edge in Chi­nese cul­ture and lan­guage.

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