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Local teens get a jump on college costs

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By Terry Hagerty – Contributing writer/photographer

A group of Bastrop-area teens are working diligently this summer, contributing to their families’ expenses, saving for college, and earning a little extra cash. Faith Bresnahan, who will be a senior at BHS in the fall, has been working since last November at Bastrop’s Chick-fil-A. “I’m helping out my family with paying bills. I wanted to know what it is to work and not have to live off my family.” She said she loves her job as a front-counter cashier at Chick-fil-A. “I had a bunch of friends who worked here in the past,” she said. Faith described her duties as “anything and everything. I take orders at the counter, bag food (for takeout) and clean tables. It is fun learning how to work together with people; everyone here is nice.” Faith has a full load during the school year as she works at the restaurant, does homework and plays volleyball. Her senior year will be her fourth on the volleyball team. And what’s the most popular item on the menu at Chick-fil-A? “A number-one with American cheese,” Faith responds with a wide grin. Restaurant operator Bret Farris said he and customers benefit from hiring dedicated students like Faith. “They’re coachable…and eager and excited to work,” Farris said. “It’s an opportunity to teach them how to interact with anybody and everybody and how to steward resources.”

Tyler Seago, 17, will be a senior at Cedar Creek High School this fall. He works at Bastrop’s Crossroads Animal Hospital at 651 Hwy. 71 W. Tyler is already set on a career path. “I want to become a veterinarian,” he said confidently, adding he wants to study at Texas A&M University. Tyler has been building a solid resume. “I’ve been here almost a year. I had an internship up to this January” and then he became a paid employee, Tyler said. “I do a wide range of stuff. I hold the animals for the technicians to perform exams and help (owner/veterinarian) Dr. Phil Farber. I help with feeding and walking animals and cleaning up. I’ve always had a love of animals. I like to see the impact I’ve had in helping out with animals – seeing how they recuperate.” Tyler has raised his lambs, rabbits and showed a steer in the local youth livestock show. He is working 40-50 hours per week during the summer and will work about 15-20 hours per week during the school year. He also finds time for extra-curricular activities. “I’m a big theater geek,” Tyler said of his work with the CCHS theater stage/technical crew. For the production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” he helped build a set with 20-foot tall houses.

Camryn Higgins, 17, will be a senior at BHS this fall. He plays safety and linebacker on the football team. He said he enjoys working as a cashier at H-E-B and also donning the H-E-Buddy costume – a smiling, kid-friendly shopping bag with a big smile. Buddy and youth have fun coloring pages, scorecards, and also learn kid-friendly recipes and more. “I like playing Buddy – kids come up and give me a hug,” Camryn said. Like many other teens, Camryn said he is helping out with his family’s living expenses. “I got tired of asking my parents for money. I help pay the family bills now,” he said. “I like how flexible they are here (with working schedules) because they know I play sports.”

Olivia Whitfill, 16, who will be junior at BHS, is a lifeguard at the YMCA pool in Bastrop State Park. “I love the water and the sun. Being a lifeguard is the perfect job for me,” she said. “My Mom taught me how to swim – I grew up in the pool. My little brother (age 13) wants to be a lifeguard, too.” Olivia works about 30-35 hours per week during the summer. Being a lifeguard is laying the groundwork for her career path. “I want to go to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and become a nurse practitioner,” she said. Her lifeguard training has been valuable, teaching her life-saving skills such as first aid, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and working an automated external defibrillator. “I love the training aspect of being a lifeguard,” Olivia said. “We swim laps every day. I like that I get to protect people, but also be in the water every day.” She said one of the crucial tasks of being a lifeguard is scanning the pool. “We have a zone and we scan from the bottom to the top of the (surface) every 9-15 seconds.” She also has a full schedule at BHS, being a varsity cheerleader and a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Trinity Wilkerson, 17 and home schooled, is also a lifeguard at the YMCA pool at Bastrop State Park. She said she became a lifeguard “because I’ve always been interested in first aid, the medical field and I like being around children. I’m considering getting EMT qualified and possibly become a paramedic.” Trinity said she also loves the community feeling she gets at the pool. “I like the atmosphere of the pool on a nice day. It’s a really positive environment. You get to watch the families come out and have fun,” she said. Besides lifeguarding, Trinity loves horses. “I barrel race. I’m OK with being labeled a cowgirl. I have a lot of horses – five horses and a pony.” Trinity said she’s also “very involved in my church,” Lost Pines Cowboy Church in Elgin.

Although there is plenty of fun-in-the-sun to being a lifeguard, they are constantly at watch when on duty. “I haven’t had to go into the pool (for a rescue) this summer,” Trinity said. She said if she had one message to youth using the pool, it would be, “Please respect the lifeguards. We’re not trying to be mean or rain on their parade. We’re trying to keep them safe.”