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Class of 2011: Korthals headed to ISU to pursue DVM

Marin Korthals, Worthington High School Class of 2011, stands outside door No. 11 at the school, wearing the colors of the place where she will attend college -- Iowa State University.(Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)

This is the final story in a four-part series profiling graduating senior students at Worthington High School.

WORTHINGTON -- With the aspiration of becoming a veterinarian, Marin Korthals knows she has a long road of intense study and dedication ahead of her.

But today, Marin is a newly minted high school graduate with something to celebrate before she sets foot on that path to the future.

Marin, the daughter of Brian and Lorraine Korthals of Worthington, received her diploma last night along with the rest of Worthington High School's Class of 2011. Graduating with honors capped off a high school career during which Marin sustained a grade point average of about 3.5, despite a senior year that got off to an unhealthy start.

"I missed about three weeks of school with mono, and then just a couple days with getting my tonsils out. I think it was in November that I got sick. I lost 30 to 40 pounds in two weeks," said Marin, relating how extreme swelling in her throat made it difficult to eat solid food. "It was so bad that they said I could asphyxiate and stop breathing, and they didn't have people here at the hospital who could do a trach(eotomy), so they sent me to Sioux Falls just in case the worst would happen."

It was tough for Marin to rebound from her illness, both physically and academically.

"But my teachers were great about it and helped me get caught up when I got back," she credited. "They helped me out whenever they could. The choir sent me a big get-well card and balloons and flowers -- all the people who sent me things and brought me flowers really helped."

Choir had been part of Marin's class schedule up until the last semester, when she elected instead to take a college class.

"I wished I could finish out the year, but I wanted to get that college experience in," she said. "I took a college algebra class."

Math is one of Marin's favorite subjects, and she's also taken a lot of science classes, looking ahead to that veterinary career.

"I really enjoy math, because it's challenging, but there's always an explanation, a law or rule that tells you what you need to do. I like facts, I like having things to back stuff up," said Marin, who had just six days of classes to go when this interview took place. "I'm in chemistry right now, and I really like that -- working with the different chemicals, watching how things react and exploring different things."

As an incoming freshman at WHS, Marin was involved in Business Professionals of America (BPA), Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FFCLA), Science Club and student council.

"Student council was the only one that stuck," she said. "I stayed in that all four years, and this year I'm the senior representative on the student council."

Marin has also taken a leadership role in her homeroom, and she credits her homeroom teacher, Sam Becker, with providing academic guidance.

"She's great at keeping us all on track, tries to help us out as much as she can if she sees a student is lagging," Marin said. "We've really grown as a homeroom. It's the one to go to. Every week, somebody brings food, and on the Friday before a big break and the last Friday of school, we have a potluck.

"Our grade is surprisingly close," added Marin. "A lot of different grades have cliques, and we do, too, but we all know each other and get along. There are no big beefs that separate the class. It's a good class."

As she closes out her senior year, Marin also finishes the track season. She has been on the track team since sophomore year.

"I throw the shot put and disc," she said. (Coach Mike) Traphagen actually came up to me after my freshman year. I was going to go out for softball, but I hurt my arm in eighth grade and took a year off. He talked me into trying to throw shot, and with shot came the disc. I really enjoy it.

"It's something I'm good at, but on the other hand, I've always been strong, always had muscle, and this is a way I can use it. Not that there isn't skill -- you need the technique -- but the strength is there, too. I like the mixture of strength and technique that you need for it. ... I like that it's an individual sport, but we're all a team. You get to cheer on everybody else when you're done. You decide for yourself how you do, but you have a team there behind you, pushing you to do better."

Except for a brief stint in volleyball, Marin hasn't participated in other sports, but she did take more than a passing interest in basketball.

"I did basketball stats the past two years" for the boys team, Marin said. "We got along so well with the team, and they made us feel loved. We got to travel with them, went to a Minnesota Gophers game with them up in the Cities. I have a lot of friends now on the basketball team, and those friendships are great. It was a good experience, and now I know more about basketball."

For Marin, the high school experience has been a very social one. During her senior year, she made a point of getting to know many of her fellow students.

"I did take a few slack classes -- those are always a necessity for your senior year -- but I got to know a lot of different people this year, talking to people I used to think I'd never hang out with. It's a nice experience knowing there are all these different options of people, that you can always make new friends, meet new people."

For the ultimate high school social experience -- prom -- Marin had not just one date, but two. She initially planned to go with her best friend, Tony Singsaath, and at the last minute was asked by another classmate, Omot Othowo.

"His date ended up not being able to come, so he asked if I would walk through with him," she said. "I agreed, and we just had a blast. It's wasn't like a couple thing -- we had a big prom group.

"It was just a great time. I like that I didn't go my junior year. ... For me it was a whole new experience, and both my dates hadn't gone before, either, so we had tons of fun."

To fund her social life and save money for college, Marin is employed at Bob & Steve's Shell in Worthington.

"I love it," Marin said about the 15 to 20 hours per week she puts in at the convenience store. "I have met a lot of new people, and that's great. A lot of kids from high school and the community come in. I'm a people person, and I love being paid to talk to people."

Those people skills -- and animal skills, too -- will likely be an asset in her future career as a veterinarian, a vocation that has been at the front of her mind for many years.

"I used to be in 4-H, and I used to ride horses with the Dudleys, and Steve was kind of a huge role model in my life," she said, referring to local veterinarian Steve Dudley. "I always looked up to him, and his job always seemed so cool to me when I was younger. So that's always been what I wanted. Whenever somebody asked me what I wanted to be when I was older, I'd say a vet. I don't get squeamish around blood and guts, and I love animals."

When Marin began considering colleges, she looked at two schools with strong veterinary medicine programs.

"I had it narrowed down in my mind to Iowa State University or the University of Nebraska-Lincoln," she said. "I visited Nebraska my junior year with Ellen Dudley, and I loved the campus, liked the bigness of it. But then recently Mom and I went down to Iowa to visit, and I just fell in love with Ames. There's everything there -- not that there isn't in Lincoln -- but it's a little town with a big atmosphere. The campus is gorgeous. There's just something about it -- when I thought about college, I instantly thought Iowa. So I made the decision about two or three months ago."

The pre-veterinary program is four years, followed by another four years in the graduate program -- "if not more," Marin said.

"I'd like to be a large animal vet, but I'm thinking about listing it as mixed to begin with, so when I graduate I can do either large or small or both, if I decide that's what I want. I also want to minor in math. I want to keep going with that and see where that can take me, too. ... The graduate program can be really hard to get into, so that's why I wanted to do a minor in math. If I don't get in right away, I could get into something related to math to tide me over until I do get accepted."

But Marin is determined that someday those three letters, DVM -- doctor of veterinary medicine -- will follow her name.

"I've learned a lot about myself, knowing who I am," during her senior year, Marin said. "I know what I want in life, and if I want to achieve what I want, I have to buckle down and go after it with everything I have."