Alumni Story – Valerie Hohol

Valerie Hohol, Class of 2015, is finishing her senior year at University Minnesota, Duluth. She’s studying Chemical Engineering and playing softball for the Bulldogs. We caught up with her on campus in the spring of 2018 to find out what’s next.

Valerie, tell us a little bit about how college is going and what you’re studying.

I’m studying chemical engineering. I graduated New Life in 2015. So this is my third year at UMD. I did a lot of PSEO/CIS classes in high school so that allowed me to finish college. I’ll be graduating in three weeks and probably won’t actually be at my own graduation because of softball but that’s a good sign – that means we’re doing well. I have a job lined up for after graduation already. I’ll be working for Ecolab in the research and development facility.

Congratulations on finishing an aggressive program in 3 years and getting a job prior to graduation. I know that the PSEO classes that you at New Life contributed to your ability to do that. How many college credits did you have when you got to college and how did that impact your time.

I had towards my major maybe like 30 credits something like that. I know several more that didn’t actually count towards anything so I’m graduating with 20 extra credits that I’m not going to end up using. But I was able to get my basic math and science out of the way and then I’ve only had to take two electives. I originally planned going four years since my major is a heavy credit load but then found out NCAA rules require you to have so many credits towards your major each semester or you’re not eligible to play. I actually didn’t have enough credits to make myself eligible my fourth year so i decided to take summer classes so I could finish in 3 years rather than take the 4th year and not be able to play softball.

So did New Life help you discover a passion and identify a focus for you at school?

I think having advanced classes was a good way to test out if I liked science and math as well as experience a college setting before you actually get to college. Some of my college classmates discovered after they started college and were in the courses that they didn’t like chemical engineering.

How do you feel that you were academically prepared for college level coursework compared to some of your classmates?

I felt that my studying habits were on par or better than everyone else was. I felt definitely prepared for all of my classes.

You were part of the NLA softball team when we were carrying state records year after year. Talk about your experience in athletics.

I was on the New Life softball team and a club softball team in the summertime. Being on the team at New Life taught me how to be a part of a team with a bunch of different types of people. Learning how to balance my academics with my softball schedule really taught me how to plan and develop time management skills.

Was there a teacher at New Life really had an impact on you?

Yes, a few teachers. Mr. Deboer was my calculus teacher and I like discovered that I loved calculus through his class and I truly think it’s the way he taught it. Dr. Butler helped me a lot in chemistry and physics in the fact that he pushed us to do well and have a really good foundation for college. I took his AP Chemistry class and when I got to college and took Chemistry I was surprised to realize that I actually already knew all the stuff. It was so easy. It was a good confidence booster because like everyone was struggling so much and I had already was taught this but so much better. College classmates would ask how I was taught because they had no idea what was going on in class.

Is there something that you will always remember from your time at New Life?

What I like really remember is the culture. Everyone cares about you, whether it’s other parents, teachers, faculty members, other students – it was just such a supportive environment. It’s such a tight knit community.