Senior Spotlight: Dexter Knutson-Keller and Life’s Crescendo


Annali Snyder

Dexter Knutson-Keller is a senior at Capital High School, and regardless of whether he’s surrounded by his peers or by those twice his age, he is always the most down-to-earth person in the room. In his own words he’s a “Normal guy who’s not easily bothered,” but to those who know him that’s like saying, “The Beatles were pretty popular I guess.” In our conversation, he touches on stress, loss, hope, and gratuity with maturity and grace. So much grace in fact, that I get the impression that I would never have heard it if I hadn’t asked. 

I ask Dexter to tell me about his life chronologically, starting with his childhood, but he tells me that the bulk of his formative experiences are more current. “Life has been pretty easy up until recent years,” Dexter says. “I’ve kind of drifted until sophomore year of high school when I started feeling more pressure academically and socially.” He says that “Losing my grandmother set off a chain of events, and all those events were connected up until my college decision.” 

Dexter has achieved many goals throughout his trials of education and personal life. “I’m really proud of the fact that at least last year I managed to complete all of the IB work in addition to other schoolwork,” he says. Although Dexter recognized his important investment in his education, he continues to prioritize the important aspect of friends and family. “When I was going through a tough time with someone in my life he was there for me and made me feel better about the situation. He was overall just really easy to talk to and really listened to what I had to say,” says Jack Zimmerman, a friend of Dexter’s. Now, as his high school years come to an end, Dexter says that “It feels like every choice I make now is more important.”

In those same years, Dexter lost his grandmother suddenly and later his grandfather developed serious health problems. Coming to terms with “the inevitability of loss,” Dexter says, has been weighing on him. “In my current situation it was hard to realize that we’re in the last couple of months, so for the longest time during school I wasn’t showing up to class, it made me feel very unproductive and want to ignore my responsibilities. Now I’ve gotten the hang of it a little more, I think it will be easier once school ends.”

Many pivotal moments all stacked one on top of the other, college decision is the next on the list. “Next year I am going to the University of Washington, I am not sure what exactly I want to study, maybe environmental science or environmental resource management,” Dexter says. His current career goal is to be a park ranger. “I want to make sure that forests are safe and not trashed, I am looking to enjoy a recent passion of mine for the rest of my life.”

And college decisions never come lightly, “I feel conflicted because I am going to kind of a high tier school but maybe not looking for a higher tier job, maybe I’m wasting my money on a nice school when I’m looking for a lower-paying job.” 

With the pressure of finishing high school, starting college, and processing the inevitable loss of a family member, Dexter’s life mirrors many peoples in its crescendo into adulthood. How is he dealing with it? “Like I said I feel like it’s hard to bother me.” Dexter is not one to get caught up in silly things, and his goals in life follow suit. “I’d say that seeing people who are happy really inspire me, people who are very content in their life, and people who for lack of better words don’t really care what other people think.”