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2023 Senior Spotlight
February 22, 2023
Meet some of Stafford High School’s finest seniors and learn more about what they love to do!
‘The Genius’ – Aileen Contreras
“For a lot of students that’s their dream, and I actually made it and everything that I worked for mastered,” senior Aileen Contreras said in her continued state of shock, two months after being accepted into her dream school, The University of Pennsylvania. UPenn has a 7% acceptance rate, and Contreras believed her fate laid in the 93% of applicants who received a rejection letter, rather than her confetti-filled status update on December 15.
Contreras found her passion for volunteer work and academics stem from wanting to make her parents proud.
“Knowing that they left their lives behind to give us better ones. That kind of pushed me,” said Contreras.
For her it was all a mentality, wanting to achieve more for herself knowing she could overcome greater feats. From taking on AP French to becoming a Questbridge finalist advocating for immigrants pursuing the American Dream, she knew she could succeed.
Throughout her high school career, Contreras has participated in 10+ clubs, serving as officers for two, racked up 200+ community service hours, remained in the top 5% of the class of 2023 all four years of her attendance, and plans to expand her interest in sports by joining the girls soccer team her senior year.
“It’s not like I only do stuff for the stats, I genuinely enjoy doing them and I get bored often,” Contreras said regarding her lineup of activities.
Contreras readily looks forward to the future regarding multiple aspects of her life. She hopes to hold a position in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the field of psychology. She aims to assess criminals and offenders under the US government once completing her bachelor’s in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and attaining her masters. Outside of her career, she hopes to continue her love of volunteer work and participate in philanthropic causes.
But as for now, Contreras mainly looks forward to being a camp counselor at the YMCA, spending her summer before moving to Philadelphia with her friends, and not thinking too much about what lies ahead.
Contreras is not definite on how the future will end up, but she is fine with that, “I don’t know exactly where I’ll be five years from now but I’m excited to find out.”
I’m honestly really proud of myself because if you told me last year where I’d be today, I wouldn’t believe you.
— Aileen Contreras
‘The Influencer’ – Hannah Grau
Student by day and pageant girl by night — this may sound like the plot to a disney channel movie – but to senior Hannah Grau, this is just her day-to-day routine. Hannah Grau has competed in pageants for years, racking up a myriad of medals, trophies, and titles. And though Grau takes pride in her successes, she simply enjoys the rush while sitting in hair and makeup or walking down the runway.
Grau is not a newcomer to pagents and has been participating in pageants since she was a child. “I started out in pageants when I was really young and it was just something my mom had put me in. It was really fun for both of us. We got to travel and do things together,” Grau said.
She continued competing until she decided to take a break near the beginning of her middle school years, and became slightly less invested in the activity participating in less competitions. Throughout middle school, Grau resparked her love for pageants and competed in smaller pageants occasionally.
“I just loved getting dressed up and doing fun things,” Grau said. And eventually that love pushed her to become more and more active in pageants.
But in addition to the glam and glitz that came along with pageantry, Grau has met a great deal of people and made a handful of friends.
“I’ve met a lot of amazing people through pageantry so that’s been really awesome… It’s really cool to see all the amazing things all of these girls are doing,” Grau reminisced.
Even though Grau has been crowned Miss Virginia Teen, her greatest accomplishment lies within her service in her community. Grau founded a nonprofit called Bracelets for Grace and has raised over $16,000 for childhood cancer. Furthermore, not only has Grau helped those in need medically, but those who have served in the military.
“My dad is in the military, so I’ve done a lot of work in the military community and over his last deployment… my mom and I made a bunch of masks, over 1,000, and we donated them to essential workers,” Grau said. To her pageantry means so much more than a good runway walk.
As for now, Grau is taking a break from pageantry and focusing on her four year college education, but she looks forward to continuing her philanthropy and serving her community.
“I’m sort of closing this chapter, but not fully,” Grau said after reflecting on her pageantry career.
I’ve met a lot of amazing people through pageantry so that’s been really awesome… It’s really cool to see all the amazing things all of these girls are doing.
— Hannah Grau
Stafford’s Star Runner – Ella Dover
Ella Dover was the lone runner at the state track meet for the Stafford High School Indoor Track Team. Dover finished ninth in the 3200m and third in the 1600m. These accomplishments are just the latest in her high school running career.
After having previously run cross country, Dover decided that the next natural step was to try and run cross country outdoor track for the high school team her sophomore year. She would go on to join the indoor track team in her junior year.
The statistics speak for themselves: third and ninth place in the VHSL Indoor Track State Championships, as well as 13th in the state cross-country meet. Combined with a slew of top-five and top-three finishes, there is no doubt Dover is dedicated to running. “I think that in order to be good at something you have to really have a passion for it. I really love running. I enjoy the workouts and I enjoy pushing myself.” says Dover.
Dover enjoys boxing and baking. She is also a part of the SHS choir, which performed alongside the Washington chorus in their Candlelight Christmas event at the Kennedy Center.
Dover has not yet decided where she wants to go to college but she does know she would like to attend a four-year university and join the Air Force as a pilot or medic.
Dover will continue running spring track on the SHS outdoor track team for her final season as a senior. The target is undoubtedly running at states, and she has a lot of time to work toward that goal. “I love pushing myself to be better. I also love the feeling of accomplishment afterwards.”