Careers and Professions at Oakton

Emily Bach, Staff Writer

At a time of year ridden with college applications and new classes, questions like, “What do you want to do with your life?” seem to appear everywhere. For most high schoolers, the answers feel largely unattainable. But, within Oakton exists a plethora of diverging interests, talents and stories, all of which will eventually be carried into the workforce. Of these, I’ve chosen to highlight a few unique areas that students at Oakton are interested in pursuing.


Bennett Meale, a sophomore, is one of a few high schoolers interested in working in sociolinguistics professionally. When I asked him how he stumbled upon the rare position, he explained that he learned of the field in a place many would least expect, in fiction books. For those who are unaware, Lord of the Rings, a series known for its intricately crafted storylines, was developed by a language creator himself. He described me of how the author modelled the series’ conflict off of the language he had created, which ultimately inspired Meale to pursue socio-linguistics as a field of study. “With language we can take a look into how we think, which I think is very interesting,” he elaborated, as he went on to point out the closely-binded ties between language and our feelings as humans. He also explained how linguistics as a field studies far more than simple syllables, saying, “…language, I think, isn’t just a reflection of a single person, but carries with it influences of society, personal viewpoints, and more.”


Teenagers are known for turning their sports into professions, but most of us forget about dance when we consider athletics. Emily Steindl is one of a small group of high schoolers interested in pursuing broadway dance as a future career. The sophomore has been dancing since she was 3, and says, “Dance has become my passion, and performing onstage is honestly the most incredible feeling in the world for me. Dance is the one thing that truly gives me confidence and allows me to be myself.” When I asked her how she planned to prepare for the future, she explained, “Right now, I’m dancing at Studio Bleu Dance Center in Ashburn, but I also take voice lessons and plan on being in the school musical this year, to get a feel for a broadway type show.”


While many high schoolers are focusing on crunching numbers and writing essays, Anushal Ganeotra is animating. As a freshman at Oakton, he is one of a small group of students interested in pursuing a field that combines both art and technology. He explained that he first found interest in the field around 4th grade, saying, “when I was watching The Simpsons while trying to code, the two clicked with me. I didn’t really think about why animations worked until then, but after I did, I was hooked.” The 14-year-old boasts an impressive resume, including a slew of personal animation shorts from ones that are seconds long to minutes. “What I really like about animation,” he continued, “is the way it combines art and coding. I’m really interested in technology, as well as art, and like that it gives me a way to express both.”


Shritha Mandava, a sophomore at Oakton High School, is ready to make her mark on the fashion industry. From makeup to hair styling, she’s interested in it all, but not in the way that you’d typically expect. Shritha wants to pursue a different subset of the fashion industry, marketing. When I asked her how she stumbled upon the relatively specific field, she replied, “When I saw people on platforms like Youtube and Instagram earning money and making a career out of things they were genuinely passionate about, I realized that anything is possible. All of a sudden it hit me that my made-up advertisements for fashion companies and makeup brands could actually be useful, “ she continued, “and it could be my job to come up with marketing content for new and upcoming brands.”

These four students highlight just a few of the unique and diverse interests at Oakton High School. They demonstrate that the skills we foster in school are one piece of a greater puzzle of our being, and that our future can exist of things we love if we are only brave enough to admit that we want it to.