DIXFIELD — A job shadowing experience Kelsey Wilson participated in has led her to pursue a degree in optometry.

The 17-year-old Peru resident is valedictorian of Dirigo High School’s Class of 2014. She is the daughter of Tracy and Bryan Wilson.

Salutatorian Patrick Larsen, 18, of Dixfield has decided to attend Maine Maritime Academy to earn a degree in marine systems engineering. He is the son of George and Laurie Larsen.

Kelsey shadowed doctors at Mountain Valley Eyecare in Rumford and found the career fascinating.

She plans to attend the University of Maine for four years, then the New England College of Optometry for four years.

“Eyes are so important to everyone,” she said.

Patrick said he has always liked math and is very good at it. He hopes his future degree from the Maine Maritime Academy will lead to a position in global shipping or on an oil rig to allow him to see more of the world.

“I don’t want an office or desk job. It sounds like a thrill to see the world that you often only read about,” he said.

Both have challenged themselves by taking advanced placement courses.

“A lot of people take easy courses in their senior year, but taking (harder) courses pays off,” Kelsey said.

Patrick said he has become accustomed to taking the advanced courses. He also encourages other students to think for themselves.

Both are members of the National Honor Society. Kelsey is a member of the Interact Club of Rotary, plays field hockey and basketball, and has helped manage a field hockey camp for elementary children.

She works part time at Rowe’s Afternoon Delite in Mexico, but is hoping she’ll be able to work at Mountain Valley Eyecare this summer.

Patrick participates in track and field, cross country skiing and is an active member of the school’s Outing Club. He has been a camper and served as a counselor at Camp Good News in Livermore Falls.

He writes music and plays the guitar. He’s thinking he might sing at graduation on June 6.

Kelsey will speak about working hard and being open to new ideas and activities.

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