Imagine applying to college, taking college courses and working a full-time job, all while finishing high school. Here’s how Abby Dial does it:
“A lot of coffee," she said, laughing. "I think to-do lists are really important, and having a planner. My schedule, my school schedule, doesn't get mixed up with my work schedule. So I have a planner for school and a planner for work.”
Dial is a high school senior and the administrative assistant at the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District. She goes to the same church and gym as Program Manager Caitlin Coreson, which is how she got connected to the office.
KPEDD’s big project of the summer and fall has been distributing tens of millions in CARES grants to small businesses and nonprofits on the peninsula, a tall order for an office of three. Dial has been helping since August.
“That was my first time doing anything like that so it was kind of stressful because it was like, ‘If I fill out this box incorrectly, someone might not get 40 grand,’" she said. "So that was a little stressful. But we’re passed that now and it all went really well and I met some really amazing people, helping them out.”
Dial attended Soldotna High School and Connections Homeschool. She had enough credits to graduate early but instead enrolled in writing and math classes through Kenai Peninsula College, credits she’s putting toward an associate degree. She’s applying now for college to get her bachelor's degree and is thinking of going out of state to Idaho.
It’s part of a trajectory she sees for herself in the legal field.
“In this job I’ve learned a lot about government on a state, local and federal level," she said. "So after I graduate high school I would like to go to law school, maybe like Penn State or something, and get my law degree and work for this organization called International Justice Mission. And what it does is help free people from sex trafficking. So I feel like this is the next step after an entry-level job to move forward in my career.”
Constant interaction with people who are years older might be daunting for most high schoolers. Dial says she was worried before she took the job that age could be an issue.
“So I definitely had fears about not being good enough or just different insecurities, but everyone on the board and everyone I work with is just really kind," she said. So it’s not an issue, actually.”
Her advice to other high schoolers? Don’t be afraid to try new things.