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Nathan Ketelsen, 18, the son of Chad and Jan Ketelsen, of Charlotte, sought challenges throughout his high school career in order to better prepare himself to life afterwards.

Recent Northeast High School graduate Nathan Ketelsen was involved in many different organizations both in and out of school, but always made his academics a priority.

The 18-year-old son of Chad and Jan Ketelsen, of Charlotte, said that he gained a deeper interest in the field of industrial technology through his high school classes. This experience began with Drafting I, in which Ketelsen was introduced to the process of learning different drafting techniques beginning with basic shapes and solid objects, and then focusing in on individual parts and small details.

“That taught me how to learn something in-depth. I started seeing that more and more in other classes I was taking. Like in math or English, you always have to have that basic, fundamental idea and then you cut away from that to more in-depth learning.”

Ketelsen’s commitment to in-depth learning led him to challenge himself with dual-enrollment classes through Clinton Community College. One such class, Tech Math, centered on exploring real-world applications of math.

“Math, when you’re in school, is a lot of black-and-white on paper,” he said. “Tech Math was really fun because we would do labs and see how to use that math in action.”

In addition to his focus on academics, Ketelsen compiled a long list of extracurriculars during his high school career. He was on the track, cross country, baseball and basketball teams, and participated in Northeast’s band, choir, speech team and chapter of Future Farmers of America. Outside of school, Ketelsen helped on his family’s farm and was involved in 4-H club and his church youth group.

“It was nice. It kept me busy and taught me time management skills,” he said. “I made a lot of friends, a lot of memories, a lot of lessons learned along the way. It’s nice to be able to be involved in that many things.”

Through all of his activities, Ketelsen said he learned important lessons on communication and managing his time and priorities.

“I may have been at school from 7:30 in the morning until 10 at night,” he explained, “but my priority was still my academic standing and good grades. I would stay up until midnight doing homework or whatever needed to be done.”

Ketelsen said that, while all his responsibilities threatened to become overwhelming at times, it ultimately benefited him, and allowed him to develop a variety of different skill sets.

“We don’t know what the future holds, so being diverse, being able to accomplish so many different things and learn so many different lessons, is huge,” he advised. “Everybody has different experiences and brings a different mindset to the table. The broader your experiences are, the broader your mindset and ability to accomplish different tasks.”

Ketelsen’s diverse skill set and hard work throughout high school did not go unnoticed. He was recognized by the Northeast High School faculty as the Outstanding Senior for math and industrial technology. He was an Academic All-Conference athlete for four years and earned an honorable mention for cross country in his senior year. He also earned varsity letters all four years for track & field and cross country.

In the fall, Ketelsen plans to attend the Milwaukee School of Engineering to major in electrical engineering. While in college, he will run cross country and enlist in the Marquette Unit Naval ROTC. After graduating, he hopes to earn a commission as an officer in the Marine Corps.

Ketelsen is confident that he will be able to transfer the skills he’s learned and developed in high school with him to college and beyond.

“I don’t know exactly what the future holds, but I know that being a part of so much has allowed me the opportunity to practice leadership skills I’m gonna be able to take with me to college, and after to the Marine Corps. That’s why I made sure I was so well-rounded. That was my goal.”