West Chicago Community High School graduate Grace Quiroz made the most of the months spent in quarantine.
Away from the classroom, she started to learn sign language and Ukranian. The volleyball star found an artistic outlet making self-portraits and handmade cards for front-line medical workers. Mostly, Quiroz confronted the loss and disappointment of missed milestones on her own terms.
"Life still goes on, things still happen, and you can't just shut down when a curveball is thrown at you," she said.
A leader in her sport, Quiroz captained the Wildcats squad and made USA Volleyball's High Performance National Team, solidifying her dreams of playing in the Olympics. She also earned a weighted GPA of 5.154.
Here are her reflections on high school and her future plans:
Q. How will the abrupt end to your senior year shape you moving forward?
A. It's all about taking a deep breath and looking at the positives.
And all the negative moments, losing the prom, losing different types of milestones, I feel like that will fuel me to be a better person in the future.
It's something that I want to leave in my past, and it will build me to be a better person.
I've re-evaluated my life. I've gained new habits, gained new hobbies during this time of being inside my house for three months. And I've learned a little bit more about myself and how hardworking I am.
Q. What's next for you?
A. I will be going to Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, and I will be majoring in biology in hopes of becoming an orthopedic surgeon or becoming a physician assistant.
I'll also be playing volleyball on a pending athletic scholarship, and I will be on an $18,000 scholarship for academics. Becoming a doctor is something I've always wanted to do, and volleyball has actually really helped me with that, with the collaborative skills and how to talk to people and how to bring people up and how to instill confidence in others.
Q. What's your advice to high schoolers?
A. If somebody walks up to you and asks you to join a club, you should consider it because those opportunities don't come to you later.
Don't allow yourself to regret what you didn't do.
You should always treat people with kindness. Always understand that people are going through things, too, and just to keep that in mind when you're making new friends.