Letter from the Editor

Dear readers,

Our world has changed in so many ways since my last letter. As I write this, I’m sitting in a local coffee shop at a table that is half-indoors and half-outdoors, and it is only the second time in 15 months that I have been in a public place without a mask. It is liberating — and terrifying. We have such a long way to go.
My heart goes out to all of you who missed long-awaited field trips, graduations, dances, birthday parties, and other milestone celebrations. Some of you never even met your teachers or classmates in person! So much has been lost since March 2020.

And yet.

My inbox is brimming with stories of your remarkable successes, your resilience, your kindness, your determination. I’m not “brightsiding” you; I am saying that Florida’s students have continued to achieve and amaze. Some days, getting out of bed and logging into Zoom (or Canvas, or Teams, or Meet) for the 9 millionth time was in itself an amazing achievement, so kudos to you for every time you managed that, too.

To all of you — us! — who have struggled this year, well, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. School and work and life continue. There will be dances this year, and parties, and graduations. There will be essays and exams and applications. We are healing.

As always, NEXT has worked tirelessly to find the most relevant, useful information to shepherd you into life after high school. We have gathered experts to offer their guidance (check out Dr. McNabb and Christina Rogers), compiled checklists to organize your life, and brought you stories from young Floridians who were once in your shoes (read about Chris Marsden and Jamie Tremblay).

Our theme this year is “Building Your Personal Brand.” It may seem a little weird to talk about marketing yourself in a time of economic uncertainty, but personal branding goes beyond job interviews. We’re asking you to think long-term, and we hope that you will trust us to help you in that process. If the past two years have taught us anything, it is that everything you say or do matters, even and especially when it happens online! How you present yourself, and how others represent you, will factor into almost every facet of your life to come. The entire “Trending” section in this issue includes the information and tools you need to make it happen.

I can’t wait to see what you’ll do next.

Watch & Learn