Alums find success after high school

As of last May, the CFHS class of 2013 began their lives as adults in the real world after graduation. Whether they launched straight into a career or decided to continue their schooling in college, the graduates gladly and fondly left their high school experience behind in order to experience whatever was ahead of them. Now, in the beginning of their adult lives, these high school graduates are making the most of their time and piling on success.

CFHS alum Amanda Harwood poses with members of the Old Gold Show Choir at their first performance at the University of Iowa.

CFHS alum Amanda Harwood poses with members of the Old Gold Show Choir at their first performance at the University of Iowa.

CFHS class of 2013 graduate Amanda Harwood can be best recognized for her time at Cedar Falls High School for a multitude of plays and musicals, as well as participation in band, choir and two jazz groups. This love of the arts she possessed in high school has transferred to her life today. She is currently attending the University of Iowa, majoring in theater and planning to pursue a certificate in arts entrepreneurship. Harwood is also involved in a new student-led group at Iowa called the Old Gold Show Choir, which just had its first concert on Oct. 20. She loves being part of the Old Gold Show Choir because “[it feels] great to perform with such a supportive group of people.” On top of everything else, she also volunteered with the theater department in a show written by a grad student playwright called Medusa Undone. Although she did not get cast in the show, she loved the show and really wanted to be a part of it, so she worked backstage, helping with makeup and quick costume changes.

High school life is completely different from college life for Harwood, and she’s experienced a lot of change, mostly for the better. Since she arrived at Iowa, she’s begun to get rid of old habits in order to function in her everyday college lifestyle. Harwood, since being in college, has become tidier, as she doesn’t “want her roommate and the rest of the world to see a huge mess on her side of the room.” Cleaning has also become a way for her to deal with stress. In addition, she also studies a lot more and drinks more coffee. The major difference for Harwood between high school and college life is her routine. In high school, she had a very structured, unchanging day-to-day life. She was at the high school from 7 am to 6 pm pretty much every day doing the same activities and taking the same classes. In college, she doesn’t have the same classes every day, and her time isn’t as structured. “I have a lot more options for how I spend my time which, in my opinion, makes it easier for me to be productive because I often have more of my day free and not just my evenings,” Harwood said.

Harwood believes she has been most successful in college in her classes and in meeting her professors. She works hard and being involved in theater shows and show choir in addition to taking several classes is no easy feat. Her parents provide a large amount of support to her, which she said is a big reason for her success. Both of her parents work at the University of Northern Iowa with years of perspective on college life, so when she runs into a problem, she can easily call them and ask for advice. In addition to her parents, high school also prepared her for life in college. Harwood said, “I’m really thankful for my high school experience at Cedar Falls High School because the classes I took in high school and the teachers I had prepared me for the workload, so it wasn’t a shock.”

CFHS alum Josh Carlo sings while rolling a motorcycle on the CFHS auditorium stage during the 2013 spring musical, All Shook Up.

CFHS alum Josh Carlo sings while rolling a motorcycle on the CFHS auditorium stage during the 2013 spring musical, All Shook Up.

Harwood doesn’t quite know what she’d like to do as a career yet, but she believes Iowa is the right place to figure it out. Her favorite part of college at Iowa is her musical theater history class. Harwood said that it is the most interesting class she has taken so far, and she learns a lot in every class. “Taking that class not only assures me that I’m meant to be doing something with theater, but it’s also just plain fun. I even get to do a research project on Les Miserables, so that’s awesome,” Harwood said. She also claims to be a bit of a nerd, and she loves the “school-ey” aspects of college. Because of this, she hopes to go to graduate school somewhere on the east coast after she graduates from Iowa in four years.

Now a freshman at the University of Northern Iowa, Josh Carlo also graduated from Cedar Falls High School in May of 2013. He is best known for his time in high school in the drama department, performing in almost every play and musical possible and landing several lead roles throughout the years, in addition his participation in the music department, where he excelled in concert band and symphony orchestra with his bassoon, played the tenor saxophone in Jazz One and sang tenor in both Concert Choir and Vocal Jazz. His love for music continues to live on as he studies as a music major at UNI, where he is also involved in five different music ensembles. Carlo is a member of the Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra, Northern Iowa Wind Symphony, Northern Iowa Symphonic Band, The Inglorious Jazzers (UNI Jazz III) and the Panther Marching Band. In addition to being a part of ensembles on campus, he is also in an off-campus music ensemble called Bel Canto Cedar Valley.

For Carlo, the most difficult part of the transition from high school to college is time management. Since starting college at UNI, he has become more aware of time and how it needs to be utilized in order to achieve success. Carlo said that the lack of free time is difficult and that he constantly finds himself trying to find some free time in his schedule, even if it’s just to sleep or practice music more. “As a music major, you have to be on your toes at all times and get as much done with the time you are given. It’s very easy to fall behind,” Carlo said.

Even if time management is difficult, Carlo still loves college life at UNI. He believes that UNI is “absolutely a perfect fit” for him, and he feels right at home on campus. Compared to high school, he believes college gives you much more independence, which can’t be wasted. However, out of everything, he particularly enjoys the passion and intensity that comes from everyone in the School of Music at UNI. “Everyone [in the School of Music] wants to be there, and the high level of music making that comes from that is incredible,” Carlo said.

Carlo believes that he has been relatively successful in his life after high school. However, he believes there are definitely things he could improve upon, which he thinks will always be true of everyone. Carlo has worked hard to be as successful as he is, and he feels that he has been most successful by making the large number of ensembles he is a part of as a freshman, many of which college students don’t get into in their first year of school. He attributes most of his success to his friends and family that support him. Carlo said, “A supportive friend group is crucial to success in my opinion.”

After graduating from UNI, Carlo knows exactly what he would like to do as a career. He plans to teach band at the high school level in either Iowa or Wisconsin. He also plans to work on getting his masters degree at the same time. From there, he plans to either get his doctorate and teach collegiate level band or continue to teach at the high school level.


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