Meet our Prep Elite Class of 2016: Four local students who are already changing the world through simple kindness, creativity and an abundant amount of energy.
We’ll be cheering them on as they pursue their dreams—from inventing new ways to make life easier to healing children with cancer.
Alex Carrabre: Waconia High School
For some high school students, juggling a heavy course load can be a big stressor in itself. But for Waconia High School senior Alex Carrabre, who runs cross country and track, plays hockey and participates in the America Reads program, Conservation Club and International Club, staying busy is fun, especially when it involves being around great people. “I get to be around fantastic people who have similar aspirations in life, and really want to maximize their potential in everything they do,” he says. “Constantly being around these people is a huge factor and contributor to my motivation.”
And motivated he is. From ninth to eleventh grade, Carrabre was on the “A” Honor Roll, his schedule is filled with AP and College in the Schools (CIS) classes, and he still carves out time in his busy schedule to volunteer at the Ridgeview Medical Center, as well as for Relay for Life. “I feel the need to give back,” Carrabre says. “Doing even the simplest things can have an impact on someone’s life, which I think is something to be cherished.”
Carrabre attributes his involvement in sports and volunteering to the importance of experiencing many different things while he’s still young, in hopes that he’ll find a potential career of interest. “My involvement has not only given me ideas of what I want to do when I’m older, but it has also given me the ability to see things differently through other people’s perspectives,” Carrabre says. “It has helped me see the world differently.”
After graduation this year, he aspires to attend college at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) to run track and potentially study medicine. “I’d like to follow in my father’s footsteps in the medical field,” Carrabre says. “My absolute dream job would be to work as a doctor in Hawaii or California, or own my own business.”
Mikaela Thiel: Chanhassen High School
When people ask Mikaela Thiel to describe herself, she says, “I am a soccer player and I play the flute.”
But what she’s leaving out is her love for volunteering at Feed My Starving Children, her dedication to school (she’s been on the “A” Honor Roll since freshman year), and her dreams of someday playing flute in the pit orchestra of a Broadway musical. “I have a passion for everything I am involved in,” Thiel says. “I don’t just do it for the sake of doing it, I do it because I really enjoy it.”
Thiel has played soccer since she was 5, and when she was in fifth grade, she added “flute-player” to her repertoire. Fast-forward to today, and you’ll see her playing in Chanhassen High School’s marching band, pep band and pit orchestra, while also a member of the Knowledge Bowl, National Honor Society and Link Crew. And the passion Thiel has for all the activities she’s involved in hasn’t gone unnoticed. “Mikaela’s integrity and work ethic show in everything she does,” says Mikaela’s teacher and coach, Krista Hammann. “With quiet determination, Mikaela consistently gives her best, and in turn, has earned the respect of her peers and teachers.”
In school, Thiel operates under the motto of doing the best she can, whether or not the class is interesting. “It’s easy to do your best work in classes you really enjoy, and it’s easy to slack off in those you just don’t like,” Thiel says. “The key is to try to stay focused, even if the content isn’t interesting to you.”
After high school, Thiel plans to major in biomedical engineering and minor in music, but has not yet decided on a school. She hopes to continue playing soccer, and would like a career in biomedical engineering—but only if the whole Broadway thing doesn’t work out.
Caleb Hay: Southwest Christian High School
“Without involvement, life would be pretty boring and a bit meaningless,” says Caleb Hay, a Southwest Christian High School senior who doesn’t seem to have much time for boredom. Hay is on the Twin Cities Youth Rowing team, participates on the Southwest Trap Team, attends many of Wooddale Church’s mission trips, and also sings in his school’s Chamber Singers choir— just to name a few of his current involvements.
You’d think with a resume this hefty, academics might fall by the wayside, but Hay’s grade point average is a shiny 3.9, he’s on the “A” Honor Roll, he received High Honors in the Word Wright Reading Comprehension Competition and earned a 36 composite score on his ACT. “I have had some fantastic teachers throughout elementary, middle and high school who encouraged me to work hard and made learning interesting,” says Hay, who lives in Eden Prairie. “Whenever I do something, whether it’s schoolwork or something else, I try to do my best. It’s as simple as that.”
For as long as he can remember, Hay has been involved at Wooddale Church. Aside from attending services and participating in high school events and camps, Hay enjoys giving back to the Wooddale community that he feels has given so much to him. “Since about seventh grade, I’ve helped the media arts department during church services by operating the video cameras that stream the services,” Hay says. “I love volunteering at church because it gives me a sort of backstage pass to see what it would be like to work there.”
Hay plans to study engineering in college, but isn’t sure yet where he’d like to attend school. After college graduation, he sees himself in a career infused with science, technology, engineering or math. “My dream job is to be an inventor,” he says. “I think it would be great to think up new things every day to make life better for people.”
Claudia LaRose: Holy Family Catholic High School
Claudia LaRose’s alarm sounds at 4 a.m. on the days she volunteers at the Simpson Homeless Shelter in Minneapolis. For the last three years, Claudia has met her Holy Family Catholic High School classmates at 4:15 or 5:15 a.m. to carpool to the shelter, for which she helps organize the groups to serve, buys the food and drives to the shelter—20 times throughout the year. “I love my experiences at the shelter,” LaRose says. “I believe that I get more out of serving at the shelter than the guests at the shelter receive from me. It amazes me how people who have so little are so easily able to find joy out of the littlest things.”
LaRose feels a responsibility to use her gifts and talents to help those who are not as fortunate as she is, which shows through her many involvements, including planning the first and second annual Night to Fight Homelessness events at Holy Family, helping elementary students with reading and math, as well as attending the Catholic Heart Workcamp in Montana to help residents of the local American Indian reservation by painting houses and doing yard work.
When she’s not helping others, LaRose can be found playing varsity volleyball or softball, or on the scoring team for math league; she is a captain for each. “I am very busy, but I enjoy being busy,” LaRose says. “I feel productive, and I feel as if I am living my life to the fullest when I’m busy. I only get one life, and I want to make the most of it.”
When LaRose graduates, she plans to attend an out-of-state college to experience something new, and hopes to find a career working with kids. “I am interested in becoming a pediatric oncologist,” she says. “Children with cancer are forced to have tremendous courage and strength. I would love to be able to make these children’s days a bit brighter.”