BEMIDJI -- Destiny Stillday likes to help people and solve problems.
Choosing between pursuing neonatal nursing and criminal forensics is her current dilemma, but whichever path she ends up selecting, the soon-to-be Voyageurs grad will surely leave her mark on the world.
Stillday will graduate on Friday, May 28 along with the rest of the Voyageurs Expeditionary School class of 2021.
The high school senior is a dedicated worker. “I usually just spend all my time working, I work like six days a week,” Stillday said. Outside of school, she has worked at the local Dairy Queen since she was in the eighth grade and also works providing care to the elderly.
Stillday describes herself as a sensitive person -- “I’m a huge crybaby,” she added, with a laugh. After experiencing bullying in the public school system as a sixth-grader, Stillday made the switch to Voyageurs, a charter school, which she said was “the best decision I’ve ever made.”
She describes school counselor Kelly Marcum, as “a second mom,” and the Voyageurs community as a family.
“I love the closeness of the school, the relationships that everyone has,” Stillday added.
Her success also stems from her science teacher, Becky Reinarz. “She's my favorite teacher,” Stillday said. “Everything she teaches she teaches in such a way that everyone understands and gets it.”
After struggling during distance learning, Stillday questioned whether she wanted to pursue her education beyond high school.
“It really took a toll on my mental health and my grades,” she said. “But, I worked through it. I'm here now, committed to a college. I feel pretty good about that.”
Ahead of commencement, she is feeling a mix of pride and anxiety.
“I'm very scared, but I feel very proud of myself. It's nerve-wracking, I'm so used to high school. This is something new,” she said. “I'm always scared of change, but it's for the best.”
Later this summer, Stillday plans to move to New Ulm, Minn. to be closer to family. In the fall, she plans to attend Minnesota State University Mankato.
She’s juggling between majoring in criminal justice and forensic science or neonatal nursing. She explained that she was inspired to consider working with new babies after witnessing the birth of her brother and being moved to tears.
“I have always had a fascination with murder mysteries -- it gets my mind moving, and I like the feeling of trying to solve things,” Stillday said. “But, my mom just had a baby, and I got to watch my brother be born. That whole process is just really exciting. I've always liked to help people, too. And just seeing my brother be born was crazy to me. And I thought, wow, I could really help people do this.”
In college, Stillday said she also hopes to “make new friends and put (herself) out there.”
“Going to a small school, I can't really do that as much as I would like to. But going to a school where nobody knows me, I'm excited to just be myself and put myself out there," she said.
In the future, she hopes to graduate with her bachelor’s degree and potentially pursue further degrees down the road. She also wants to have a family someday and said she’s always seen herself becoming a mother.
“Wherever life takes me, really,” she said with a smile.
Stillday and the rest of the Voyageurs’ class of 2021 will celebrate their accomplishments at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 28, with a commencement ceremony at Diamond Point Park in Bemidji.