By Raiza Giorgi
Each spring the Santa Ynez Valley Star highlights students who have made an impact on the community or on their schools and who will be going on to higher education, military service, or trade schools.
Today we profile two seniors at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, Alexandria Donohue and Sean Harris.
Growing up in the Santa Ynez Valley has been a blessing for Alexandria Donohue, 18, of Santa Ynez. She was able to have a small-town upbringing as well as raise and foster animals of all kinds, including kittens, chickens, cows and horses.
“My mom grew up in the country and she wanted the same for me, so when I was in second grade we moved to the valley and I have spent my time being around animals. I think I will want to move back here one day and raise my own family as well,” she said.
The senior at Santa Ynez High School said she will also be following in her mother’s footsteps when she attends Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. She plans to major in business and finance, as she has a love for mathematics.
“Math has just been something I excel at. I love doing math problems and I also like tutoring other kids in math as well,” she said.
Even before entering high school, Alexandria said, she had already passed geometry and Algebra I by taking online courses. She then decided to keep taking math online and passed calculus.
“I ran out of math classes to take,” she laughed.
Besides solving math problems and being with her animals, Alexandria said, she has been playing tennis since she was a young girl and only stopped in her senior year to concentrate on college applications and volunteering.
She volunteers for animal organizations including Lil Orphan Hammies, a pig rescue based in the valley, as well as National Honor Society, the Solvang Library and the Culinary Cure Club on the high school campus.
“I will miss a lot about the valley, but I am looking forward to the next step,” she said.
Santa Ynez native Sean Harris says he is a hopeful person and loves sharing his positivity through his singing. The 17-year-old will be graduating from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School and then attending Los Angeles College of Music, where he will major in vocal performing.
“The world can be a chaotic place, and I just want to share a little bit of hope through the power of singing,” Sean said.
He also plays the trumpet, flute and saxophone and loves performing in the jazz club on the high school campus.
“When I got to high school I got involved in the singing groups like choir, and loved it so much I sang in the advanced choir group,” Sean said.
He is also involved in his family’s church and teaches kids in youth worship at Santa Ynez Valley Presbyterian Church.
“Another group I got involved with is Youth and Government, which gave me a whole new appreciation for the people who get involved in politics and how the legislative process goes,” Sean said.
Traveling to the Capitol in Sacramento and watching a Senate session was inspiring, he added.
Even as he appreciates government, Sean said that his passion for music has always stood above anything else.
“I thought about auditioning for ‘The Voice,’ but I want to wait until I turn 18 so my parents don’t have to be burdened with schlepping me around,” he laughed.
Sean said that from his YouTube channel he got contacted by producers of “The Four,” a newer singing competition show on FOX. The show’s unique feature is that it starts with just four contestants, who have been selected off-air by the panel of judges.
“Who knows where music will take me, but I am excited to start the adventure,” Sean said.
To see videos of Sean singing, visit his YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/channel/UCZBH2Mi9mmW2jGdz1C2UGRg.