Graduate profile: Makai Yllanes, Colorado Rocky Mountain School
Makai Yllanes is set to graduate from Colorado Rocky Mountain School, an outdoors-focused independent college preparatory school in Carbondale, which has a local student enrollment of about 40%. During his time at CRMS, he has been a member of the climbing and cross-country teams, and for his senior project, he has been working on a documentary film.
Here are Makai’s responses to the Post Independent’s questions for our featured graduates.
Q: What is the most important thing you’ve learned these last four years?
A: I have learned a lot over the past four years, but most importantly, I’ve learned to be a leader in my community and learned what leadership means to me. Whether it’s on climbing team, cross-country team, or while being a wilderness leader, I’ve figured out how to engage and be welcoming towards others. I’ve found the ways that I choose to give support, how to put a group’s needs before my own, and so much more. I have also learned to try new things and be open to new experiences in high school.
Q: What motivated you most to do well in high school?
A: I wanted to have options when I graduated; the ability to choose whether I stayed in-state or moved out-of-state for college. I also wanted to make myself and my family proud. I don’t know why that manifests itself in being a good student. But I think in general, working hard, putting your best foot forward and doing your best to be a contributing member of a community is extremely important.
Q: What will you miss about high school?
A: I was fortunate enough to have a lot of amazing experiences in high school, especially adventures in the outdoors. These climbing trips and backpacking trips allowed me to grow as a person. Gaining this appreciation and love for the outdoors is something that I will always take with me. And I will treasure the fun small group experiences that are so rare.
Q: Where are your post-graduation plans taking you, and why?
A: I will attend Ithaca College on a full-ride, merit-based scholarship in the fall. I will be majoring in Documentary Studies and Production at the Roy H. Park School of Communications. As someone who always enjoyed writing and journalism, as well as film and TV — especially since taking a videography class at CRMS — the program at IC was the perfect fit for me. I am beyond excited for the next four years.
Q: What do you most look forward to in your future?
A: I look forward to having a good summer. It’s the last summer before college, and knowing that I don’t need to worry about AP summer work or SAT prep will give me more time to have fun and not overwhelm myself with work. I also look forward to learning more about the world in general and about my future career. Getting the experience to work with lights, cameras, editing equipment will really help me figure out what I’ll do next. And one day, I look forward to seeing a film that I directed premiere on a big screen.
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