Graduating Francis Scott Key High School senior Jessica Tanzey has always been a people person, so it's no wonder it's the people of FSK, students and staff, she says she will miss the most after graduation.
"I made a lot of great friends here and met a lot of great people, and I know they are going to go accomplish great things," she said. "Once I graduate I'm certainly going to have a bunch of teacher Facebook friends."
Tanzey's outgoing nature, her focus on people, has guided her through her four years at FSK, through her career exploration during her senior year and even into her workplace.
"At Weis, where she is a cashier, she gets customers all the time talking about how fantastic she is, and she's so friendly and personable. They're bringing her gifts. It's crazy. She is just that kind of person," said Jessica's mother, Stacey Tanzey. "She is just really outgoing and she's just always pushing for that next level, that next accomplishment."
At the beginning of her senior year, after developing an interest in medicine, that next accomplishment was Jessica taking on an internship in the memory care unit at Long View Healthcare Center in Manchester.
"She really just connected with these people on the dementia unit and wound up being a real asset to that entire team over there," said Jenny Adcock, FSK internship coordinator. "Her long-term goal is to go into the field of nursing, so it was relevant; she got to work with the [geriatric nursing assistants] and the RNs, and see that whole scope of what that kind of job entails."
Jessica really took to the role, so much so that she has kept visiting even after her internship officially ended.
"I really like it there and all the staff and the residents," she said. "That was an experience because I come from a family without any history of dementia, so I was able to learn about an areas that was completely foreign to me."
Jessica even conducted and independent research project into the benefits of aromatherapy for memory care, according to Adcock, launching a fundraising effort to bring the therapy to long view.
"She held a winter stand drink station for the staff and the visitors of Long View and was able to raise some money to hopefully buy some essential oils and things like that," Adcock said. "She did some research to see how they might help with memory retrieval and help with calming and help with various things that could be helpful to the residents."
The internship was only supposed to be for one semester, but Jessica was able to return for the spring semester by dual-enrolling for classes at Carroll Community College.
"We were able to work it out with her schedule and work some magic with her taking her required gym credit at Carroll Community College," Adcock said.
Jessica was offered a job at Long View, but has decided to take the summer off and instead prepare for the next step in her education, attending Carroll Community College full-time in the fall.
"What I plan on doing, if everything goes according to plan, is I would like to be an RN," she said. "Fortunately due to AP courses here and college classes, I knocked out enough credits that within under a year I would be able to finagle my way into the RN program, so, that's what's coming up from me."
Nursing is a field where Adcock feels Jessica would excel, not just because of her grasp of the science and medical knowledge necessary for the job, but because of her emotional intelligence.
"I can tell you right now if I was ever a patient and she was my RN, I would feel completely confident and comfortable knowing she was taking care of me," Adcock said. "I wish there were more people like her in a health care setting, in all honesty. Just that level of commitment and passion and kindness that she has."
And yet there is more to Jessica than school and nursing. As she aptly demonstrated at the FSK campus, donning a complex costume of blue and white, with pleather cuffs and foam weaponry, she is adept at crafting costumes from scratch.
"It's called cosplay," she said, "essentially replicating a certain character."
Jessica will pick characters from video games or animation and create a costume and makeup to transform herself into the real world projection of that imaginary entity.
In this case, Jessica took on the character of Connor Kenway, from the Ubisoft video game, "Assassin's Creed 3."
"I chose this character because I enjoy what he fights for. He's an assassin, and that sounds bad at first, but he fights for justice," she said. "It takes place during the American Revolution, and essentially he seeks revenge and justice, as his family is killed when he is just a child, so he seeks to bring the criminals to justice who did that."
Jessica likes the challenge of bringing to life characters with interesting stories and a good moral arch.
"Obviously a lot of thought and time when into building this character for a game," she said, "so I put a lot of time and thought into building this character to replicate."
Jessica uses foam and pleather and fur and buttons, all put together with everything from stitches to hot glue guns, working hard to create a look correct to each character and the world they come from.
"Each character has a unique aspect that's difficult to craft, but exciting to try," she said. "I painted this fabric to try and give it a beaten up look, essentially. You want to make it look like he's been through a couple fights, because he has been."
And she makes it all from scratch.
"Every now and then I run into her at Goodwill and she's buying something for one of her costumes that she is going to spray paint bright blue or red or whatever it is she is working on," Adcock said.
Those interested can find Jessica's work on Facebook and Instagram under her "Ghostiee Muffinn Cosplay" handle.
For now, cosplay is a hobby that keeps Jessica "in the red," as she puts it, simply due to the cost of materials, but she wouldn't mind it becoming a little something more.
"She would love to make a living at cosplay and be an internet celebrity," Stacey said, "but I made her have a back-up plan."
And while cosplay is not replacing nursing in Jessica's current plans, she does have some professional opportunities to utilize her skills coming up.
"I am teaming up with a comic company — Paranoia Comics, check 'em out — to represent from of their characters in the 'Necroman' series," she said. "That's exciting because I will be able to represent them and they will be paying me for my materials and a per diem for showing up with them."
Francis Scott Key Graduating Class of 2018
How many students graduating: 218
How many students going to college: 163
How many students going to a technical school: 11
How many students going into the military: 7
How many students joining the workforce: 37
Valedictorians: Liliana Isabela Barrera, Kaeley Paige Craney, Lacey Elizabeth Hall, Elena Louisa Rippeon, Meredith Grace Tate, and Audrey Frosleva Wiswakarma