Student of the Week: Lisa Doles


Courtesy of Lisa Doles

“I’m really glad to be back at school,” said senior Lisa Doles. “I know it’s my senior year, so I’m supposed to be having fun, but I’m actually having fun.”

Lillian Paugh, Staff Reporter

Although 2021 was “kind of a bad year” for senior Lisa Doles, it also allowed her to develop herself as a person, focus on the things she loves, and pick up new and interesting hobbies over the course of the pandemic.

She suffered a lot of loss and isolation during the pandemic. “I lost family members, and I lost my old dog,” Doles said. “There’s nothing super happy or memorable that happened to me during that time.” 

Doles wasn’t able to see her friends very often during this period due to the COVID-19 lockdowns, and seeing extended family proved difficult as well. Doles was born in Japan, where she lived for four years and where most of her family still lives, making it hard for her to see them. The rest of her extended family lives in Utah, and traveling there wasn’t an option either.

“I’m excited … for someday where I can go visit my family again,” Doles said. “I haven’t seen them in like three or four years, so I just really miss them.”

Despite the hardship she faced, Doles is able to see the bright side.

Being far from her family in Japan has been hard on Doles, but she and her family in the U.S. keep parts of that culture close all throughout the year by celebrating many traditional Japanese holidays. One, in particular, includes a New Year’s celebration called Osechi, which is a traditional Japanese feast that involves around a week of food preparations. “We do most of the Japanese stuff,” Doles said.

Being in lockdown, Doles said, allowed her time to grow and improve as a person. “I feel like I became more independent, and … don’t rely on other people anymore,” she said. “I just feel really good about myself and confident.”

Learning online during lockdown last year was beneficial for Doles, as she felt that she was doing really well academically and was “really good at keeping on top of things,” she said. 

Yet Doles is more than happy to be back at school this year, despite the difficulties. “I think just being at school has been uplifting mood-wise, and academically it’s a little challenging, yes, I will admit,” she said. “But I think that with other people also struggling with me, it’s kind of [assuring].”

As an aspect of the pandemic, many major La Salle events were canceled last year, leaving some students, including Doles, disappointed. But this year, the prospect of being able to attend events like prom and Journey only adds to Doles’ desire to remain in in-person school.

“I just want to make the most out of everything [and] not miss out on anything,” Doles said. “I just want my high school experience to actually happen and feel fulfilling.”

Keeping a box full of every letter she’s ever received and every wristband from every school dance she’s attended, Doles describes herself as being a “pretty sentimental person,” she said. And getting to go to events like school trips and dances gives her the opportunity to embrace that part of herself in growing her collection of memorabilia. “I like looking back on things and seeing how I was then and comparing myself to how I am now,” she said. “I have a diary, too … I don’t want to forget anything.”

Doles’ fellow senior classmates are another reason she enjoys being at school. “We’re all pretty much friends, so that’s fun,” she said. “I think … since La Salle is so small, and my class is pretty small, too, we don’t have a popularity scale. So … you don’t feel threatened by anybody or feel like, ‘Oh, I’m not cool,’… You can just literally go up to anybody in your class.”

The pandemic also gave Doles the opportunity to pick up some new hobbies, including working on her new car with her dad. Her dad, who she said has always wanted to be a mechanic, has always encouraged Doles to get into working on cars, and at the beginning of the pandemic, she acquired what she called “basically [her] dream” car, a Scion FR-S, and began her work.

“My dad likes performance stuff, but I like making it pretty,” Doles said.

Along with her and her dad’s shared newfound passion for working on and talking about cars, Doles also discovered a love for working on computers, and she even built her own PC from scratch. 

Doles said she has always loved to work on very small, intricate projects, and building her computer, which took around two months in total to complete, was an easy task and was “the most fun” she’s ever had while building something. “Yeah, it’s weird,” Doles said. “Everybody talked about how difficult it is to build their stuff, but I was like, ‘What?’”

The process of assembling her PC is not only something Doles is very proud of, but it was also what influenced her to pick her college major: computer software engineering.

“I want to be … creating something that goes out into the world,” Doles said. “And I don’t have to have my name out there. I just want to build something … something that people rave about.”

Creating revolutionary computer software is not the only thing Doles aspires toward, as she wants to be able to speak French, alongside English and Japanese, fluently. Spurring from a trip she took with her mom to France, Doles has thought ever since that the language was “cool” and would be “nice” to learn, she said.

Learning new and interesting things is another thing Doles has always been partial to ever since she and her mom began tuning into Discovery Channel-like programs on TV when she was younger. And the further from being a school subject, the better it is for Doles, as she said she is better at learning about topics unrelated to school.

“I like to learn things but not [things] like math,” Doles said. “I like learning things that are cool.”

Her parents, she said, told her she could choose to go to college anywhere she wanted, but being close to home is a priority for Doles, and between Oregon State University and Utah State University, Doles is leaning more towards Oregon State as it not only would be more convenient for moving purposes but also because she wants to stay close to her immediate family. “I want to move out — I can’t wait,” Doles said. “It’s just, you know, it’d be nice to be able to come home [and] not drive nine hours for Christmas.” 

Although Doles has extended family in Utah and she truly loves everything about the university there, she said that it is “just little things that add up that make OSU sound better.”

With graduation seemingly hurling itself over the horizon, Doles fears the looming inevitability of adulthood. “I’m literally turning 18 in a month,” she said. “And that’s terrifying. And I can’t believe that I grew up over the pandemic. I feel like I missed out a lot on things.”

Nevertheless, the end of high school is what motivates Doles to keep going.

“Not that I want it to be over, it’s just [that] I can’t wait ‘til the next step,” Doles said.