Naugatuck H.S. Student Spotlight: Kaitlyn Chang & Melih Yilmaz

Postsecondary ReadinessStudent Voice and Success

The RISE Postsecondary Success team partners with CT high schools to ensure all students graduate on time and complete milestones for their identified postsecondary plans. In the coming weeks, we will celebrate the accomplishments of graduating seniors in our Core Network schools. Their dedication, hard work, and resilience have led them to this important goal. Congratulations to the Class of 2024!

Naugatuck - student photo

What is your plan, after you graduate high school? 

Kaitlyn: I plan to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY to study baking and pastry. I plan to get a bachelor’s degree and hope to own my own business one day.

Melih: I plan to attend Bentley University in Waltham, MA to pursue a B.S. in Finance.

What support did you receive to help you form your postsecondary plan?

Kaitlyn: My teacher, Ms. D, was really helpful in understanding different culinary options post-graduation. She was able to support me with seeing different colleges through the class and knew about the process. Ms. D brought in Johnson and Wales to do a demonstration and share more about their programs. My counselor, Ms. Caron, was able to help support me with letters of recommendation and understanding the application process. There were also really helpful FAFSA advisors at the school. I had been contacted by them a few times and knew there was help if I needed it.

Melih: Mostly, the support around the process came from friends and members of the school. It has been really exciting to see all the celebrations this time of year on social media. A family friend who is a professor at Southern helped me to understand different pieces of the process, particularly helping with the FAFSA, given all the changes this year. Because of my parents’ language barrier, I individually filled out the FAFSA. I applied and was accepted to colleges and decided on Bentley because of the program and financial aid package.

What advice would you give to a rising senior? 

Kaitlyn: You can handle the workload of senior year and everything else that comes with senior year socially, but it is all about the balance. Get started early in your junior and senior years, as it can be challenging to make up grades. Making good connections with your teachers is important, and it’s not too early to start, even in Grade 9! Also going into the college process knowing what you like is helpful. You can always change your mind but this can help with different scholarships.

Melih: Making connections is key with colleges! It’s a great way to learn more and get help. It can be as simple as sending an email to get started.

What are you most proud of, as you look back on your high school experience?

Kaitlyn: The experiences and growth in the culinary program. I transferred to Naugatuck High School from a different school when I moved and specifically chose Naugatuck because of the culinary program. Here, I have been able to learn basic skills and get better. I look forward to seeing this continued growth in college.

Melih: Being able to balance working and supporting the family business (a restaurant), while keeping up in school at the same time. I became interested in finance through learning about business from directly working in the field.

What are you most looking forward to, as you look ahead to the future?

Kaitlyn: Independence, but also, continuing to grow the skills needed for my career. I’m looking forward to internships and the opportunities that will be available at the Culinary Institute.

Melih: Having a successful career in Finance. I’m looking forward to learning more about investing and finance and being the person that people turn to for support around finances.

Follow along with us on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter, as we continue to celebrate our amazing seniors!