Ten Year Reunion: 2010 High Schoolers Where Are They Now?

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By Chelsea Kern

Ten years ago, our May 2010 edition of Utah Valley Magazine named 16 high schoolers who will change the world.  We’ve gathered eight of that featured group for a “10-year reunion.” See how they’ve changed the world in their first decade after graduating from their Utah Valley high schools.

Kate Branagan

HIGH SCHOOL Westlake High School – CURRENT HOME South Jordan – FAMILY Husband, Chad; Sons Liam, Lucas

Advice for your 18-year-old self Travel more.

Plans changing after high school I went to cosmetology school instead of video production. 

Proudest accomplishment thus far My two boys.

No. 1 thing you’ve learned since high school: Life doesn’t always go according to plan, but it does always work out. 

Memories of being featured in Utah Valley Magazine I remember being very awkward and camera shy. 

Current goals Raise my boys to make the world better than they found it. 

What you wish you’d known in high school Don’t try to please everyone. You’re the only one who has to live your life, so make sure you’re the one who’s happy with it. 

Advice for this year’s seniors It’s your life, live it how you want, and don’t try to please everyone. 

Life in 2020 My life now is incredible. Went through a lot to get here, but it’s been worth it. 

 

Bronson Whitmore

HIGH SCHOOL Karl G. Maeser Prep Academy – CURRENT HOME Albuquerque, NM –
FAMILY Wife, Alisha; canines Roku and Lizzy

Life since 2010 For one, I met the love of my life. I also decided to drop a full ride scholarship to Westminster College and enlist in the Army where I worked with satellite communications. Eventually my wife joined the Air Force and I got out of the Army. 

Life’s surprises What surprised me the most is my journey to find happiness. I was junior and senior class president in high school, full-ride to a prestigious college, student representative at Westminster student government, had promising careers after schooling, active social life … and I was miserable. 

Proudest accomplishment thus far The physical and mental stress that must be overcome in Army basic training is an extremely empowering experience. I remember a 55-hour period without sleep, experiencing foot and back pain, working with explosives and carrying heavy equipment. I will never forget watching a soldier in front of me lose consciousness and collapse from heat exhaustion and having to perform first aid with skills I learned a week ago. Hardship clarifies, with extreme prejudice, what is important in life and I will never be the same.

Advice for this year’s seniors Don’t shy away from hard work if it will get you closer to your goals. My younger self had terrible jobs that paid well, and it sucked!  People are always looking for THAT dream job, but it most likely will not arrive. Work is hard and tedious so you might as well get paid. Sacrificing now means being kind to your future self. 

Colby Sanford

HIGH SCHOOL Provo High School – CURRENT HOME Provo – FAMILY Wife, Alicia;
Daughters Faye, Rose

Advice for 18-year-old self “Hey Colby, You may have a hard time believing this, but you win. Live your life with confidence in your decisions and opinions, including your intuition about that girl in AP Art History class -— you are gonna marry her. Love, Colby”

Plans changed I was for sure going to be living on the East Coast, I had a scholarship to an arts college, but instead went to BYU, and I am still in Provo. There is a gravitas to moving away and living some “bigger, better” life, but at some point you realize everything you could ever hope for is already here, sitting next to you on your couch.

Proudest accomplishment thus far I get a lot of satisfaction in my everyday life. The inhales and exhales of making food, washing dishes, and having my wife and little girls close all the time. Being a full-time artist gives me flexibility and is demanding but fun. In all, I am proudest to be living my life the way I am.

Current goals Keep the house clean, paint, family dance party.

Advice to this year’s seniors You likely have at least 60 years ahead of you. Give yourself 10 of those to figure out what you want to do with the rest. Don’t jump too deep into any one thing right now.

Danny Russon

HIGH SCHOOL Lehi High School – CURRENT HOME Provo – FAMILY Wife, Rachel

Proudest accomplishment thus far The journey to who I am now has been something I wouldn’t trade. I’ve served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I’ve attended BYU, made friends, made a five-minute animated movie (Papá) with friends over the course of a year, developed skills (professionally and personally), interned with Sony Pictures Animation, got hired at Warner Bros. Games, and got married! 

Current goals My current goals revolve mostly around starting a family and improving my professional skills. I feel the need to be improving every day. Not just professionally but in all aspects of life. 

Advice for this year’s seniors Follow what you’re passionate about — but also seek to be passionate about everything you do. If you see a gap between where you are and where you want to be, that means you can see where you want to grow.

Wish you’d known in high school Rejection isn’t the end of the world.

Life in 2020 I commute three hours a day from Provo to Salt Lake, which means I draw people on the train. (Sorry if I’ve drawn you!) I exercise frequently, dabble in photography, play music (one day I’ll own a piano), and work on personal art projects on a computer I built. 

Jessie Beck Lima

HIGH SCHOOL Timpanogos High School – CURRENT HOME Brazil – FAMILY Husband, William

Life’s surprises Most of my plans failed. I applied and got rejected from multiple Ph.D. programs. I quit my first job out of college and moved to Ireland to be an au pair. There I met my husband, got accepted to a Master’s program in London and moved to Brazil, where he is from, without speaking Portuguese. If you had shown me this paragraph in high school, I would never have believed it.

No. 1 thing learned since high school Whenever I make a plan, God laughs. But in all my efforts to make my plan work, He gently (or forcefully) guides me. 

Memories of being featured in Utah Valley Magazine I remember Principal Theron Murphy telling me he wanted me to be featured as ‘the most likely to change the world.’ I remember posing in my high school soccer uniform. Soccer was so important to me and I desperately wanted to play in college, but I wasn’t good enough. At BYU, I joined the Women’s Rugby team. After five years of playing, we made it to the National Championship game for the first time in 2016. #sistersnotteammates

Current goals I want to get fluent in Portuguese. I want my husband to get his green card, so he can work and live in the USA! After 1.5 years we are still hoping and waiting for this miracle.

Wish you would’ve known in high school I wish I would have known how much money I could save by living at home while going to BYU! Living in Provo has its perks, but it’s expensive. Find a club or a team to socialize with and live at home if you can! 

Brennen Hyatt

HIGH SCHOOL Maple Mountain – CURRENT HOME Queens Creek, AZ – FAMILY Wife, Jessica; son Cole, second baby due in November!

2020 Update I’m working remotely for one of the brightest Silicon Valley startups. A lot of my time is spent learning about human behavior and teaching people new ways on how to improve their business. 

Advice for your 18-year-old self Don’t underestimate the power of a smile. A smile can turn your day around, as well as for those around you. No matter what the circumstance is, find the good and share it with others.

Proudest accomplishment thus far My friend and I transformed an idea into an actual business in less than two weeks. It showed me that when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.

No. 1 thing you’ve learned since high school People may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel — for the better or for the worse.

Advice for this year’s seniors People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Develop skills to show how much you care about people and you’ll never be short of friends.

Meredith Gaufin

HIGH SCHOOL Timpview High School – CURRENT HOME Murray

Advice for your 18-year-old self Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game. Over the past 10 years, I’ve learned multiple times that the answer will always be “no” unless you ask, try, or otherwise step up to the plate. So go ahead and swing for the fences. 

Life’s surprises At the beginning of my sophomore year at BYU, I was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital and treated for idiopathic rhabdomyolysis that led to acute renal failure. I am incredibly grateful for the full recovery I have made, but for the second time in life I had to relearn to walk normally (I broke the distal portion of my femur through the growth plate in my knee when I was 9). I’m hoping that “third time’s the charm” doesn’t apply to this situation.

Proudest accomplishment thus far Graduating from the University of Utah School of Medicine with Honors and marching into a dermatology residency. At graduation, my father, a physician in Utah Valley, placed my doctoral hood and welcomed me into the medical profession as a daughter and colleague. It was a surreal, life-affirming moment.

Wish you had known in high school I definitely should not have cut bangs as a Sophomore — it’s just not my look.

Life in 2020 My life is as busy as ever and even better than I imagined when I was a senior in high school. I am a doctor at IMC Hospital in Murray and will be moving to Washington, D.C., in a few months to complete my dermatology residency at Georgetown University/MedStar Hospital.

Sammi Trujillo

HIGH SCHOOL Salem High School – CURRENT HOME Lehi – FAMILY Husband, Jorge; Children Arietty, Beckett

Advice for this year’s seniors While you are dreaming big, don’t forget to dream small. Big dreams push us forward and give us something to work toward, but small dreams help you stay in the now. 

Wish you had known in high school I was somewhat obsessed with hoping boys would think I was beautiful and had crushes on me. That obsession led to insecurities and missed opportunities. My biggest regret was pretending like I had already been asked to prom in order to say no to a guy who wasn’t someone I wanted to be in a relationship with. I ended up with no prom date a week before prom and I asked my ex-boyfriend to go with me. *EMBARRASSING* 

Life in 2020 I am a wife, a mother, and an assistant publisher and editor at BYU. I also do contract writing and research for grant proposals and non-profit program development. 

Plans changed I got my bachelor’s degree in Family Studies instead of in Dance Education. 

Life’s surprises I had no idea mental illness would be a regular part of my life. I have struggled with an eating disorder and postpartum mental illness, and my husband struggles with anxiety and depression. I also had no idea I would be a working mother or that I would come to love longboarding. I also thought I would travel a lot, but it turns out that traveling is expensive, so…surprise! 

Proudest accomplishment I am proud of the family I have created. I recently celebrated my 8th wedding anniversary with my husband. We have an almost-5-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy, and I am proud that I get to be a mother. 

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