Through the eyes of alumni

Graduates describe life after high school


Braylen Garren

At her shop, The Mustard Seed, 2012 graduate Darynn Gay stands before the display of spices. The Mustard Seed carries over 400 types of spices, jams, oils, vinegars, coffee beans, loose-leaf teas and kitchenware. The store is located at 4701 Texas Blvd.

Story by Nashita Kalam, Staff writer

After 13 years of education, students turn their tassels from right to left and are suddenly free from all the responsibilities high school brings. The new graduates continue to discover who they are and what they want to do. 

One moved to the East Coast to pursue her passion in journalism. One stayed in Texarkana to open up a local business. One returned to TISD to work on the security team.

After graduation, everyone tries to gain a sense of what they want to do. They go to college to discover their passion, and learn what they need to do to turn their passion into a career. 

Texas High has produced many successful students: Raga Justin achieved a profession in the press, Darynn Gay opened up her own local business, and Zachary Baker attained a job in law enforcement. 

Justin graduated in 2017 and left for the University of Texas at Austin to major in Journalism and Plan II honors. She always wanted to be a journalist, and participating in THS Publications reinforced the decision. 

“In second grade I became fascinated with the idea of being a journalist and then somehow it stuck,” Justin said. “Once I started writing for the newspaper and learning the basics while participating in THS Publications, it just cemented that ambition for me, and I decided I wanted to major in journalism in college.”

After college, Justin continued to pursue journalism and started a job at Hearst Communications. 

“I’m a Hearst Fellow, meaning I will spend two years at two separate Hearst papers in the country,” Justin said. “In my first year rotation, I am living in Connecticut and write about statewide breaking news as well as the town Darien, Connecticut for the Darien Times.”

During her high school years, Justin was involved with the Tiger Times and was one of the editors-in-chief.  

After graduating in 2017, Raga Justin pursued a degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and is now a Hearst Fellow in Connecticut. (Photo by Submitted Photo)

“Texas High prepared me for what I do now,” Justin said. “I learned a lot of journalism fundamentals in the publications room and from Mrs. Potter and Mr. Smith. Skills like interviewing people, writing a basic story, learning how deadlines worked came from my years on the newspaper staff. Those fundamentals prepared me for my first day as a college reporter for my campus paper and for increasingly intensive internships and jobs after that.”

Gay graduated in 2012. She continued to live in Texarkana and attended Texas A&M- Texarkana with an undergraduate degree in biology. Though her plans changed along the way, she is a successful business owner now. 

“I planned to be a doctor, and life changed. I took a different route,” Gay said. “This is not something that I ever would have imagined.”

Gay is the owner of The Mustard Seed, a local spice market on Texas Boulevard. Her store contains over 400 different types of spices, jams, oils, vinegars, coffee beans, loose-leaf teas and kitchenware. 

“I opened up the store because I like to cook, and I couldn’t find the spices that I needed,” Gay said. 

Working as an entrepreneur in a small city like Texarkana can be tough. A lot of work is put into running the business daily, and especially before opening the market. Gay and her family built every cabinet, table and chair that are in the store today. 

“[On a day to day basis I] talk with the public, contact vendors, suppliers and restaurant chains in our area, I get everything prepared so that people can come grab [what they need] and run,” Gay said. “I do research so I can answer questions for people when they come in.”

Baker is part of the class of 2014. After graduation, he completed three semesters of college at Ouachita Baptist University and the remaining semesters at Lamar University, earning a degree in criminal justice. 

Baker always had the eagerness to help people. He was a Texas State Trooper for five years, but he recently returned to TISD as a campus officer. 

TISD police officer Zac Baker returned to his alma mater after serving as a Texas State Trooper. (Photo by Teara Duke)

“I enjoyed my time with the Highway Patrol, but I felt that I could better serve by being able to help students,” Baker said. “A lot of student’s first interaction with law enforcement will be through the school district police department, and I feel that we can have a positive impact on how these students view and interact with law enforcement.”

Attending Texas High has helped Baker be the best he can be at his job. The diverse campus has helped him understand different backgrounds and how to interact with people from distinct upbringings.

“My time and experience at Texas High helped me to be more understanding of different cultures and backgrounds that people come from. Texas High has a diverse campus with the availability to get to know different students from all walks of life,” Baker said. “During my time at Texas High, I was a social student and that allowed me to get to know students from different cultures. I believe this allowed me to be more understanding of those that we come in contact with in my law enforcement career.”

Being in law enforcement isn’t an easy job. Officers on campus have to be observant to make sure no dangers come on campus so we can have an undisruptive learning environment. 

“Our day to day job is fluent,” Baker said. “We patrol the campuses and get to know the students. We can conduct investigations and take appropriate actions when laws have been broken. We stay vigilant to help make sure the schools are safe for our staff and students. By staying vigilant, we can work towards having a positive working and learning environment for the staff and students alike.”

Circling back to TISD felt like the right decision for Baker. 

“This is where I grew up and it laid the foundation for the person I am today,” Baker said. “I am happy to be back and hope that I can help students to grow and flourish and work toward a career that makes them happy.”