Fifty-one valedictorians from 16 high schools across Jackson County share their achievements and their college and career plans.



Samara Kamal Diab

Parents: Julie and Assaf Diab

GPA: 4.0 (unweighted)

Honors, awards: National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Writing Award, Kiwanis Student of the Month, and academic awards in French, English and orchestra.

College plans: Southern Oregon University Honors College.

Career plans: To explore a career in English and French education and writing.


Lillian Huang

Parents: Xiao Xia Yu & Matthew Huang

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Advanced Placement Scholar, Ashland Kiwanis Club Student of the Month.

College plans: Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon, majoring in chemistry and minoring in mathematics while following a pre-med track.

Career plans: To become an anesthesiologist.


Sonora Theresa Mindling-Werling

Parents: Rachel Werling and Eric Mindling

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Top Performer Award.

College plans: I plan to defer college for a year to work and travel, and then attend Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., and graduate with the class of 2020.

Career plans: These have yet to be determined.


Sierra Webster

Parents: Marvin and Ursula Webster

GPA: 4.0 (unweighted)

College plans: University of Oregon’s College Scholars Program, majoring in English and double minoring in creative writing and writing, public speaking and critical reasoning.

Career plans: I would love to be an English professor at a college or university. I also love to write and hope to include that in my future plans.



Luke Taylor Kuykendall

Parents: Michael Blake and Kara Blake

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: No. 1 in Oregon speech and debate, Top 100 national speech and debate competitors, two-time national-qualifier for speech and debate and Future Business Leaders of America, president of Butte Falls Gay-Straight Alliance, president of Butte Falls Speech and Debate, co-chairman of Butte Falls Student Health Advisory Group, vice-president of Butte Falls Future Business Leaders, vice-president of Butte Falls Class of 2015.

College plans: Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon, studying either sociology or communications. I also plan on getting my substitute teaching degree.

Career plans: I plan on being a full-time advocate, fighting for the rights of those currently oppressed. I also plan on becoming a speech and debate coach and have already lined up an assistant coaching job at Oak Hill High School in Eugene.



Jacob R. Armas

Parents: J. Scott and Debra Armas

GPA: 4.0 (unweighted)

Honors, awards: CCHS Scholar’s Diploma (2015); Advanced Placement Scholar Award (2014); University of Oregon’s Summit Scholarship (2015); Association of Christian Schools International Distinguished Christian High School Student Award in Academics (2014 and 2015); ACSI Distinguished Christian High School Student Award in Fine Arts (2015); Kiwanis Student of the Month (2014); CCHS Student of the Year in AP, U.S. history (2014) and engineering (2015); CCHS Outstanding Artist of the Year (2015); 25 CCHS Academic Excellence Awards; runner-up in Jackson County Fair 4-H archery tournament (2011); two first-place, one second-place and one third-place ribbons for amateur photography at the Jackson County Fair (2013).

College plans: University of Oregon School of Architecture, majoring in architecture.

Career plans: To seek employment in a medium-sized firm, ideally, with a focus on public spaces. Also interested in working internationally.



Haley Ann Scarborough

Parents: Sue and Tony Scarborough

GPA: 3.64

Honors, awards: Volunteered to teach anti-bullying lessons to third-graders at Washington Elementary School and to work with STEPS students; cared for the school garden; closer in charge at Papa Murphy’s Pizza.

College plans: I plan to earn my associate degree from Rogue Community College and, later, my bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences from Oregon State University.

Career plans: Environmental Science/Engineering.



Chase Whitten

Parents: Kevin and Deana Whitten

GPA: 4.12

Honors, awards: National Merit Commended Student, Rotary Club Student of the Year, CAHPS Executive Council, CAHPS Mission Statement Team, CAHPS Improvement Committee, National Honor Society, Principal’s Award, Leadership Award, Rotary Club Student of the Month, Multiple Engineering Cooperative Program preselect, Oregon State University Dean’s Engineering Scholarship recipient, Society of Manufacturing Engineers E. Wayne Kay Scholarship recipient, Rogue Credit Union Harry Wright Scholarship recipient.

College plans: Oregon State University, studying mechanical engineering.

Career plans: I am looking toward a career in the performance automotive industry.



Kate L. Bailey

Parents: Carol and Noah Bailey

GPA: 4.16

Honors, awards: Artist of the Year (2014), Principal's Award (all four years), Scholar Athlete Award, Sportsmanship Award (equestrian team 2014).

College plans: University of Oregon, majoring in geology and minoring in art.

Career plans: I want to combine my passions for art and science and use it to benefit the world.



Zachary Allen-Mark Burns

Parents: Trevis Burns and April Mercier

GPA: 4.05

Honors awards: Crater DECA President; 2015 Oregon DECA state champion in Buying and Merchandising Team Decision Making, 2015 Oregon DECA third place in state in Business Law and Ethics Team Decision Making, Crater National Honor Society vice president, Crater High School Class of 2015 Top 5%, voted "Most Likely to be a Millionaire," Principal's List all four years of high school, B.I.S. LEADS Award, Character Award.

College plans: University of Oregon, majoring in pre-dental and minoring in business administration.

Career plans: To own and operate a successful orthodontic practice.


Avery Mitchell Martin

Parents: Michael and Kristeen Martin

GPA: 4.04

Honors, awards: Top 5% of class, Principal’s Award, varsity baseball.

College plans: University of Oregon, majoring in biology or international business and minoring in German.

Career plans: To work in the medical field.


Makayla McElravy

Parent: Tammy McElravy

GPA: 4.04

Honors, awards: Principal's List, Crater DECA vice president of sales, National Honor Society board member.

College plans: Southern Oregon University, majoring in pre-optometry.

Career plans: To become an optometrist.



Kyna Burke

Parents: Linda Memmer, William Memmer, John Burke

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Eagle Award (Top 5% of class for four years), Jackson County School District 9 Senior Recognition Award, Rotary Club Student of the Month, awarded “Best Supporting Actress” by the high school theatre troupe, “Excellence in Floriculture” Award, scholarship from the local Future Farmers of America chapter.

College plans: Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, majoring in environmental science.

Career plans: Ecologist.


Blaine Cloney

Parents: Steve and Brenda Cloney

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Top 5% all four years, Oregon State University Academic Achievement Award, National Honor Society vice president, Senior Class president.

College plans: Oregon State University, majoring in chemical engineering.

Career plans: I hope to pursue a career in the field of chemical engineering.


Kayla Nielsen

Parents: Craig and Lisa Nielsen

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Top 5% all four years; Outstanding Service Recognition, 2014 and 2015.

College plans: George Fox University for a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a master’s degree in administration.

Career plans: To become a high school athletic director.


Kiana Michelle Sweem

Parents: David and Michelle Sweem

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Scholar athlete in three sports and junior varsity district pole vaulting champion, sophomore year.

College plans: Rogue Community College for two years and then Southern Oregon University to major in biology. After receiving my bachelor’s degree, I will apply to Oregon Health & Science University for my doctorate.

Career plans: To become a general surgeon and return to the Rogue Valley to work at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center.



Zackary Austin Bango

Parents: Jani and Tina Bango

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Prudential Student of the Year nomination, Rogue Community College Humanities Student of the Year, member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

College plans: Oregon State University, majoring in biophysics, and then osteopathic school

Career plans: To become an osteopathic doctor and work for a nonprofit in South America or Africa. I hope to study indigenous populations while there.


Elizabeth Millenheft

Parents: Ryan and Trina Millenheft

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Honor Roll, Principal's List, various 4-H awards and ribbons.

College plans: University of Dallas in Irving, Texas, majoring in human sciences with a possible concentration in journalism.

Career plans: I want to go into the public relations or communications field.


Rebekah Rae Ratcliff

Parents: Darrin R. Ratcliff and Candi R. Ratcliff

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Rogue Community College President’s List, fall 2015; RCC President’s List, winter 2015; 2015 Prudential Spirit of Community Award; Portland State University Green Building Scholar Award.

College plans: Portland State University Urban Honors College’s Green Building Scholars Program, studying sociology, sustainability and architecture.

Career plans: I am currently planning on pursuing a career in social work but know that my passions for sustainable living, architecture and international studies will transform my future aspirations and career plans.



Natalie Bales

Parents: Jeff and Kris Bales

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Torch Honor Society, Soroptimist Student of the Month, Advanced Placement Scholar Award, varsity letter in tennis, Western Undergraduate Exchange Scholar, Colorado State University Honors College.

College plans: Colorado State University, majoring in neuroscience.

Career plans: Planning a career in the medical field.


Savannah Rochelle Chambers

Parents: David and Patricia Chambers

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Member of the National Torch Honor Society and the National Honor Society of High School Scholars; high school varsity tennis, three years; recipient of the Humanitarian Service Leadership Award and Young Women Recognition Award; volunteer for the Buddy Program, Red Cross Club, Interact Club, Relay for Life and the Southern Oregon Humane Society; Medford/Alba Italy exchange student.

College plans: Brigham Young University, majoring in microbiology, and afterward possibly obtaining an advanced degree. I want to intern with the American Cancer Society and participate in their research laboratories.


Nichole Cummings

Parents: Cherie Cummings and Glen Cummings

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Artworks selected for Best of the Best Art Show, 2014 and 2015, and blue ribbon recipient, 2014.

College plans: Southern Oregon University.

Career plans: Teacher. 


Toreah Foy

Parents: Eric Foy and Sheila Foy

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Member of the National Torch Honors Society, First Team All-Conference, soccer 2012; Second Team All-Conference, soccer 2013; artwork selected for the Best of the Best Art Show at Southern Oregon University, 2012 and 2013.

College plans: I plan to study at a French-speaking art school in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Career plans: I will be attending an art school in Switzerland and hope to major in interior design. I want to continue studying in Europe, earn my master’s degree and find a job either in interior design or perhaps with a design company in fabrics and textiles.


Isaac Jon Grether

Parents: Jobie and Margie Grether

Honors, awards: Student body president, 2014-15; National Torch Honor Society secretary, 2014-15; Kiwanis Club Student of the Month, November 2014; two-time NMHS Football Special Teams Most Valuable Player; 2013 Southwest Conference Football Champions; five-time Hoenn Region Elite Four Champion.

College plans: Oregon State University, majoring in mechanical engineering with a focus in hydraulics and minoring in business management.

Career plans: I hope to become a chief executive officer of an engineering company.


Hayley Renee Haas

Parents: Jody and Anthony Haas

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Torch Honor Society; Soroptimist Student of the Month, October; Second Team All-Conference Girls Soccer 6A goalkeeper; Second Team All-State Girls Soccer 6A goalkeeper; Provost’s Scholarship, Point Loma Nazarene University; Coach Thomas Memorial Scholarship.

College plans: Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, Calif., majoring in biochemistry with an emphasis in pre-medicine.

Career plans: After my undergraduate schooling is complete, I plan to attend medical school and pursue a career as a pediatric oncologist.


Bethany Hagloch

Parents: Mark Hagloch and Nancy Hagloch

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Soroptimist Student of the Month in December 2014, American Chemical Society Outstanding Honors Chemistry Student of the Year (2013), American Chemical Society Outstanding Advanced Placement Chemistry Student of the Year (2014), member of the National Torch Honor Society, recipient of Presidential Scholarship to Colorado State University and Oregon State University ($10,000 per year).

College plans: Colorado State University Honors College, majoring in biomedical engineering or chemical/biological engineering.

Career plans: Perhaps enroll in graduate or medical school. But as of now, I plan on pursuing my career as a biomedical engineer or chemical/biological engineer while also being actively involved in my family’s and children's lives.


Tristen Holmes

Parents: Tim and Tracey Holmes

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: First Team All-Conference Offense, football; First Team All-Conference Defense, football; Second Team All-State Offense, football; Great American Rivalry Series Award, football; First Team All-Conference, basketball; Second Team All-State, basketball.

College plans: Southern Oregon University, majoring in pre-dentistry.

Career plans: To become a dentist.


Alexa Inman

Parents: Royal and Shelly Inman

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: National Torch Honors Society, Advanced Placement Scholar, Interact Club President, Student of the Month (World Languages), tennis team captain (2012-2014), Southern Oregon University Honor Roll, second place at Rotary District Four-Way Test Speech, placed in impromptu and poetic speaking at speech and debate competition.

College plans: Oregon State University, majoring in nutrition.

Career plans: I hope to one day become a dietician.


Bailey O’Connor

Parents: Matthew O’Connor and Jennifer O’Connor

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Soroptimist Student of the Month, April 2015; Honorable Mention, varsity soccer; Second Team All-Conference, soccer; First Team All-Conference, soccer; Torch Honor Society; Trustee Scholarship to Seattle Pacific University; Vivian Coss Bateman Scholarship; Soroptimist Student of the Year.

College plans: Seattle Pacific University’s pre-medical program, majoring in biochemistry and minoring in Spanish.

Career plans: After graduate studies, I will attend medical school and eventually become either a cardiothoracic surgeon or a neurologist.


Taylor Otoski

Parents: Peter and Suzanne Otoski

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Medford Rotary Student of the Month.

College plans: California State University San Marcos, majoring in biochemistry and minoring in cognitive science.

Career plans: After receiving my undergraduate degree, I will attend medical school with the hope of becoming a neurosurgeon.


Sydney Thomas

Parents: Jeff and Traci Thomas

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: National Torch Honor Society; Honors Diploma; Soroptimist Student of the Month; Western Oregon University General Scholarship; North Medford Academic Honors Award; varsity soccer; varsity basketball; varsity golf; varsity track; All League, soccer and basketball; All-State, soccer; varsity soccer captain; Oregon School Activities Association Scholar Athlete; state finalist, varsity soccer.

College plans: Western Oregon University to play soccer and study chemistry.

Career plans: I plan to earn a doctorate in pharmacy and become a pharmacist.


Arismendi Villa-Saucedo

Parents: Fidel Villa and Maria Saucedo

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Student of the Month, Torch Honor Society, vice president of MEChA.

College plans: Willamette University. I also plan on earning my master’s degree in the field that I choose.

Career plans: I plan to explore registered nursing and, one day, become a nurse practitioner. 



Emmanuel (“Emma”) Di Fruscia

Parents: Marina Piacentini, John Di Fruscia, and Richard Hobbins (step-father)

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Young Peacemaker Award from Resolve at the Imagine Awards, varsity cross country, state cross country championship participant (2012), nominated “Most Likely to Become a World Leader,” National Honors Society, freshman class representative (2011-2012).

College plans: Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., majoring in environmental studies with an emphasis in politics or economics.

Career plans: I'd like to work on removing or amending laws and loopholes which were created during a time when environmental degradation was of little concern, and which currently allow the continued destruction and consumption of our natural resources. I'd also like to work toward making clean energy the primary source of energy for the growing population.


Julia Holden-Hunkins

Parents: Kathy Holden and Joseph Hunkins

GPA: 4.0 (unweighted)

Honors, awards: PHS Most Outstanding Junior Award, Student of the Month, state qualifier for solo vocal competition and acting competition, All-State Choir, Veteran Peer Mediator, National Honor Society, International Thespian Society, Thespian Troupe vice president, PBS Student Showcase, 2014 Oregon Shakespeare Festival Junior Seminar.

College plans: St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., studying music and political science.

Career plans: Musical theater.


Zora Isabella Rose

Parents' names: Naya Rose and Christopher and Amber Lani

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Mediation Works' 2015 Oregon Young Peacemaker Award; Laurels Scholarship and Honors Merit Scholarship, Southern Oregon University; co-president of the PHS Chapter of the National Honor Society.

College plans: Honors College of Southern Oregon University, majoring in psychology with a focus on developmental and criminal psychology.

Career plans: I am particularly interested in the fields of psychology and law and hope to launch a career in which I can contribute to the greater good of the community.



Terran Renee Tyler

Parents: Tamara Gonzalez and the late Tony Ryan Tyler

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Graduating with 30 college credits through Rogue Community College’s College Now Program.

College plans: To attend Southern Oregon University while I work toward getting into Oregon Health & Science University’s nursing program.

Career plans: To work as a nurse and, eventually, work my way into the field of pediatrics.



Alanna Carroll

Parents: Terry Carroll and Carole McElhare

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Honor roll, co-president of the National Honor Society, advanced art student, graduating with honors.

College plans: University of Oregon, majoring in pre-journalism.

Career plans: I plan to be a public relations specialist, working for a nonprofit organization benefiting either animals, the environment or people in need. I want to utilize media and journalism in a proactive way to help spread awareness about problems in the world and encourage people to give back.



Jasmine Haddad

Parents: Haitham and Sheila Haddad

GPA: 4.04

Honors, awards: NHS, three years, WWU writers conference finalist, two years, senior class president, varsity basketball captain.

College plans: Walla Walla University in College Place, Wash.

Career plans: I want to be a psychiatrist with my own practice who works especially with kids and teens but not exclusively.



Alexander Bylund

Parents: Adam and Andrea Bylund

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Honors Diploma (2015), academic letter (2014), Torch Honor Society (2012-13, 2013-14), College Board Advanced Placement Scholar with Honor Award (2014), Oregon State University Academic Achievement Award.

College plans: Oregon State University Pre-Engineering Program.

Career plans: I plan on pursuing a career in mechanical engineering.


Robert Chisum

Parents: Kathy and Bob Chisum

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: North Medford Rotary Student of the Month, Jacksonville Rotary Student of the Month, Jacksonville Kiwanis Student of the Month, Torch Honor Society (2014), lettered in orchestra, Junior Honor Society.

College plans: First, Southwestern Oregon Community College for one to two years, then Oregon State University, and finally Oregon Health & Science University to get a doctorate in biomedical engineering.

Career plans: To become a biomedical engineer and utilize stem cells to cure major diseases and reverse severe impairments to living organism bodies.


Matthew Cramer

Parents: Joseph and Linda Cramer

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: First in Class, Kiwanis Student of the Month.

College plans: University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyo.

Career plans: Biomedical engineer.


Riley Ann Dillard

Parents: Lona and Eric Dillard

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Participated in the Artist Teen Mentorship Project through the Rogue Gallery and Art Center with Gabriel Lipper, SMHS Bridging the Arts, Communications and Humanities Student of the Month, blue ribbon recipient in 2014 Best of the Best Art Show, National Merit Scholar.

College plans: Portland State University, majoring in something related to arts or design.

Career plans: Something to do with the arts. I have looked into possibly concept design for plays or film, fine arts as an independent artist, or a project manager at a design firm.

Jahan Kahusi

Parents: Tom and Karen Kahusi

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Purple Tassel, Honors diploma, Academic Achievement Award, American Rivalry Academic Athlete Award, All-Conference Center, MVP Lineman Award, Gold Beach All-Camp, SMHS Bridging the Arts, Communications and Humanities (BACH) Student of the Month, Kiwanis Scholarship, Kiwanis Academic Excellence Award, Torch Honor Society (three years).

College plans: Oregon State University Exploratory Program.

Career plans: To use my ambition to find what I really want to do in life and be successful at it.


Sydney McEwen

Parents: Karen and Jay McEwen

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Medford Rotary Scholarship.

College plans: University of Nevada, Reno, majoring in pre-med.


Keyari Sleezer

Parents: Lathrop and Kaydie Sleezer

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: ASB Treasurer, Torch Honor Society, Breakfast of Champions, Academic Court for SMHS Community Health and Medical Professions School (CHAMPS), Advanced Placement Scholar.

College plans: To attend Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., on a full-ride basketball scholarship and study biology.

Career plans: To work in the medical field with children.


Kimball Spencer

Parents: David and Cecily Spencer

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: National Honor Society, Eagle Scout, Male Model of the Year (2014).

College plans: Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

Career plans: Physician.


Lela Stemple

Parents: Kara and Scott Stemple

GPA: 4.0

College plans: Boston University, majoring in athletic training and physical therapy.

Career plans: Exercise physiologist.


Allissa Whiting

Parents: Jason and Tammy Whiting

GPA: 4.0

Honors, awards: Torch Honor Society, National Honor Society, Breakfast of Champs nominee, Jacksonville Rotary Student of the Month.

College plans: Western Oregon University, double-majoring in education and biology and minoring in Spanish.

Career plans: High school biology teacher.


Krystal Williams

Parents' names: John and Deanna Williams

GPA: 4.0 (unweighted)

Honors, awards: Breakfast of Champions, Rogue Rotary Student of the Month, Athlete of the Week, National Society of High School Scholars, Solid as a Rock recipient, Varsity letters in softball and basketball.

College plans: Oregon State University for a dual major in biology and business with the hope of entering graduate school.

Career plans: I hope to become a veterinarian and open up my own clinic in the future.



Jamie DeMaria

Parents: Dominic and Kristine DeMaria

GPA: 4.05

Honors, awards: Bausch & Lomb Award, National Merit Commended Scholar, National Advanced Placement Scholar, Cum Laude Society, Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award, Carl Friedrich Gauss Math Award.

College plans: Brown University in Providence, R.I. I’m interested in studying chemistry, math, and computer science and getting involved in research.

Career plans: I’d like to find a career that allows me to use what I'm interested in to find creative solutions to problems. I’m interested in going into a research or lab-based field or developing or improving new software and technology.


Kylie Winger

Parents: Roberta Winger and Hal Winger

GPA: 4.05 (unweighted)

Honors, awards: P.E.O. Star Scholarship recipient, National Merit Commended Scholar, Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award, Cum Laude Society, Advanced Placement Scholar with Distinction, Smith College Book Award, University of Portland Garaventa Center Essay Finalist.

College plans: Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vt., where I will continue learning Mandarin Chinese (which I've been studying already for five years at St. Mary's), and I'll also begin studying Japanese and computer science.

Career plans: I hope to combine my interests in languages, writing and computer programming in some way, such as becoming a translator, teaching English abroad, or programming for a company based overseas or with extensive connections in China and Japan.