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Finding a work-life balance can be difficult at any age, much less for a high school student having to throw classes into the mix. An Upper County senior was able to do just that and plans on channeling his passion for helping others as he develops his plans for a career after graduation.

Gagan Singh will formalize his graduation from Cle Elum-Roslyn High School Saturday, and from there will attend Central Washington University to study nursing. While at CERHS, Singh spent his days and nights working to balance his academic course load with his commitment to his family-owned business, Warrior Quick Stop.

Singh grew up in Cowiche, moving to Cle Elum in the seventh grade. He said the transition was relatively smooth, as the town he moved from was about the same size.

“Everybody thought I was a student teacher, because I wore a leather coat and I had a mustache and everything,” he said. “The high school is a bit smaller, but over in Cowiche it was still pretty similar. The high school was big, but the classes were small. There would always be like 10 empty seats in the back of each class.”

During his senior year at CERHS, Singh said his primary academic focus was on taking college classes to get himself ahead of the curve when he started at Central. He also found a passion for clay art while taking an art elective.

“I found out I was pretty good at it,” he said. “It would be something fun to do when I retire, but that’s a long way off.”

To prepare himself for college, Singh focused on taking college classes related to the sciences, but he had to constantly be careful he didn’t overload his schedule.

“I also had to work,” he said. “The balance was hard. I had to be able to get everything done on time, and I should focus more on school, but I work and then I spend an hour or two on getting things done and I crank it out.”

Singh said he was inspired to study nursing after learning about the discipline from a family member. Although he could work for the family business, he said the future is uncertain for the convenience store industry, and he seeks a higher level of career stability.

“I want to help people, as well as helping myself,” he said. “I want to be able to have a job that I know I can still be in without running into problems. In the convenience store field, I know it’s going to run in the future, but probably not as it is right now. With all the electric cars coming through, it’s going to kill the gas industry.”

With the scheduling structure drastically changed at school during the pandemic, Singh said the work-school balance was further strained, saying he wished CERHS had more of a revised structure during his senior year similar to Ellensburg High School.

“I didn’t get as much time to talk to my teachers about doing my homework,” he said. “Sometimes my school and work hours wouldn’t match, and it was really hard to balance it. Before COVID happened, it was really easy to balance work and school, because I would go to work after school and have Saturday and Sunday and usually Friday off, so I would have three days to do my homework. Now I tend to have one set day off.”

As he prepares to Central, Singh said he hopes to move to the West Side to be around a more dynamic medical system as he trains in his nursing career, although he isn’t against staying in Kittitas County. Regardless of where he ends up, he said he will miss his time at CERHS.

“I just wish that we could have done more stuff during my senior year,” he said. “It was so little time, and I didn’t meat the other three quarters of my friend group often. I see them at work every once in a while, but I didn’t have time to have fun and do all kinds of stuff with them.”

Reporting for the DR since March 2018. Lover of campfires, black labs and good vibes. Proud Humboldt State alum!

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