Coupeville High School senior Luke Pelant knows what he wants to do with his life but hasn’t yet settled on where he’ll learn the skills for his dream career.
Pelant, 18, wants to be a forensic engineer. A person in that profession visits crime or accident scenes and reconstructs what happened, then provides that professional expertise in court cases.
“I love mysteries, and I have a friend whose dad is a forensic engineer and so I did an online search about it and got really interested,” Pelant said.
He knows this career choice will require an engineering degree plus familiarity with the law.
Pelant already has applied to several colleges, including Western Washington University, Washington State University, Central Washington and Eastern Washington, along with the University of California at Santa Cruz.
CHS math teacher Dan d’Almeida has been a good mentor for Pelant.
“Mr. d’Almeida helped me get the basics down so I could excel in math,” Pelant said. “I also give him credit for helping me make the decision to stick with soccer. He’s given me good college advice and ideas for the future.”
Pelant is taking a college-level English course from Barbara Ballard, who he says is “always available to help us,” and college-prep Contemporary Issues as well as participating in Leadership class as a student member of the school’s executive board.
He has a 3.75 grade point average and is a member of the National Honor Society, which requires four hours of community service each month.
In October, Pelant and other honor society members had some active fun working with elementary-school kids at the Hula Hoopla fitness event.
Pelant has lived with his family at Pacific Rim Institute for Environmental Stewardship near Coupeville since he was 10. He was born in Arkansas, but his father’s career in international work took them to Thailand for two years when he was 8 years old.
His time in Thailand left a big impression.
“It was the best experience of my life,” he said. “I played with kids from other cultures. We had all these exotic trees around us, even a banana tree in the backyard. It was just a totally different lifestyle.”
While attending an international school, he learned to speak the Thai language, acquired a taste for spicy Thai food, and learned to play soccer and basketball with Thai kids he described as “really good.”
“I’ve been playing soccer ever since,” he said. “Now I play on the high school team and on a premier team, Northwest United, based in Burlington.”
Pelant plays “defensive sweeper” in soccer and has also contributed to the CHS football team for the past three years.
His premier soccer team takes him to matches around the state. His parents, Robert and Joanne Pelant, have been very supportive of his involvement in the sport.
“They try to go to every game,” Pelant said. “My parents have always been 100 percent behind my choices.”
In turn, Pelant has been involved with his father’s work at Pacific Rim Institute, helping with with projects such as replanting the prairie with native species and removing old barbed-wire fencing from what previously had been a state pheasant farm.
“It’s been a great place to grow up,” he said. “I had 175 acres to play in.”
He also enjoys hunting, salmon fishing and hiking, so growing up in an area of natural beauty like Coupeville has been ideal. With his dad Robert and older brother Zach, Pelant also has enjoyed deer and pheasant hunting expeditions to South Dakota.
Pelant loves the small-town atmosphere of Coupeville, and feeling like there are no strangers here. Yet he’s excited about the idea of playing university-level soccer and is hopeful about getting an athletic scholarship.
“I guess I’ll be out in the big world,” he said. “I’ll miss knowing everyone when I head off to college.”
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