Red Wing graduating senior is 'incredibly hard-working'When Sam Gustafson enrolled at Red Wing High School just more than two years ago, she knew that it was somewhere she wanted to stay.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
When Sam Gustafson enrolled at Red Wing High School just more than two years ago, she knew that it was somewhere she wanted to stay.
“It was like a new start,” she said.
By that time, Gustafson was no stranger to new schools. It had been her third new school that year, the ninth school she had enrolled in and just one of about 60 moves she had made in her lifetime.
Still, Gustafson said Red Wing High School was different than the others.
“You can tell the first day if you like it or not,” she said.
Now Gustafson will make another new start when she graduates this Friday and attends Winona State University in the fall. It’s a move the 18-year-old admits makes her little nervous.
“I like it here,” she explained.
Gustafson first came to Red Wing from Wisconsin after her older sister, who lived in Red Wing, was given custody of her.
Gustafson’s parents “were on multiple drugs,” throughout her childhood, she said. Her father died when she was 12 years old, and it was later determined her mother couldn’t care for Gustafson and her siblings.
After making so many previous moves, Gustafson welcomed the chance to have stability in her life.
“It’s nice staying in one spot, being able to join things,” Gustafson said.
FFA was one of the first activities she joined at Red Wing. She had first joined the organization as a seventh-grader, but found some of her other schools didn’t have FFA.
This year, Gustafson served as FFA treasurer, helping with the organization’s budget and fundraising. She is also the aquaculture lab manager, coordinating the lab’s redesign this year to make the space more efficient.
“Sam’s phenomenal. She took a strong leadership role right away,” FFA adviser Chris Sheehan said. “She’s incredibly hard-working.”
In addition to FFA, Gustafson also works more than 32 hours a week at Culver’s. After her sister divorced and moved away from Red Wing, Gustafson decided she wanted to stay. Having a nearly full-time job was one of the only ways to do that.
“I have to pay rent,” she said.
But having a busy schedule doesn’t mean Gustafson’s grades have suffered or that she’s not taking challenging courses. This year, her schedule included multiple agriculture courses, algebra II and psychology. Gustafson admits there have been plenty of nights where she’s stayed up late working on homework.
“I work really hard at maintaining my grades,” she said. “That’s what I put my time into. It’s like an escape from home.”
And though she’s sad to leave Red Wing next year, Gustafson said she’s excited to begin studying to become a social worker. It’s a goal that comes directly from her past, Gustafson said.
“I have dealt with a lot of social workers,” she said. “I just like helping kids who are like me.”
Red Wing graduation
What: About 240 students graduating from Red Wing High School
When: 7 p.m. Friday June 1
Where: RWHS Athletic field, 2451 Eagle Ridge Drive (will be moved indoors in case of inclement weather)
More information: 651-385-4600