Christina Sehna plans to study construction management
Metro High School senior Christina Sehna poses for a portrait May 20 outside Metro High School in Cedar Rapids. Sehna is the first person to graduate high school in her family. She plans on attending Kirkwood Community College and then transferring to the University of Northern Iowa. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)
CEDAR RAPIDS — Christina Sehna is the first person in her family to graduate from high school and has her sights set on being the first to graduate college.
When Sehna, 19, a Metro High School graduate with the Class of 2022, realized she might not graduate high school, she also realized she wanted something better for herself.
“I knew I could do better,” Sehna said. “The pandemic was really hard, and I really lost all motivation.”
Sehna is one of 56 students to mark their graduation Saturday from Metro High’s Class of 2022.
Sehna was referred to Metro High this year to help her catch up on her studies and get her diploma. Previously, she attended Washington High School. She wishes she had transferred to Metro sooner.
“I absolutely love Metro,” Sehna said. “It makes me enjoy going to school. Before, I really didn’t ask for help when I needed it. At Metro, I feel comfortable asking for help. I know my teachers will be there to support me every step of the way.”
Sehna will be a student at Kirkwood Community College this fall and hopes to transfer to the University of Northern Iowa and earn a degree in construction management.
Sehna was inspired to go in to construction because of her grandfather, Alsandy Phillip, who was in the construction business for before retiring, she said. She grew up in a big family with her mom, step dad and seven younger siblings all living at home.
“He made me love it,” Sehna said. “I’m really doing it for me and also for him. I want to build a house that would be big enough for us to live in,” Sehna said.
Sehna’s family is from an island in Micronesia and they immigrated to the United States in the early 2000s for better opportunities, Sehna said. Education there is required only for those aged 6 to 13.
Her mom, Claudia Phillip, is hard working and “supports me in everything and inspires me to be hardworking,” Sehna said.
When Sehna was struggling to finish high school her mother said to her, “It’s OK if you don’t finish on time. You will finish on your time,” Sehna said.
Graduating high school is a big deal, and Sehna said her family will go “all out” in celebrating. She will get “drowned” in flower leis as her family shares a meal together of barbecue, sushi, fried fish and traditional egg salad.
Staci Mangrich, Sehna’s “school mom” and adviser at Metro High, said Sehna is a “force to reckon with.” When Sehna sets a goal, she will accomplish it.
“You look at her and would not think this quiet, respectful, petite girl is going in to the construction industry,” Mangrich said. “That’s where her passion is, and she will not back down.”
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Metro High School senior Christina Sehna poses for a portrait May 20 outside Metro High School in Cedar Rapids. After being inspired by her grandfather, she is pursuing a career as a construction manager. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)