Teens to Watch

When you catch a person of a certain age take a deep sigh and shake his or her head while saying, “Teenagers today…,” don’t assume the worst. This person might be impressed. In this story, local students from private and public schools have earned amazing accomplishments. They reveal a range of interests, from soccer and dance to racial bias in the criminal justice system—and, in turn, they are establishing clubs, taking leadership positions and helping the most vulnerable in our community. Of course, they also get top grades in the most demanding academic courses. Truly, that head shaking is admiration, and that sigh is relief that our future is in their capable hands.

CAMPBELL BEAVER
Academy of Information Technology & Engineering

Photo: Natasha Miller, Tashograph

Campbell Beaver has an innate curiosity about many subjects. He dives into history and civics; continually polishes his writing skills; earned Academic Excellence Awards in English, social studies and math; and is in the Spanish National Honor Society. His interest in many disciplines supports his ability to see issues from different perspectives. Now a senior at the Academy of Information Technology and Engineering, he is the Editor-in-Chief of the school publication AITE Edge and has written about such complex topics as politics and income inequality. His work earned recognition from NHD (National History Day). He’s also written for the Stamford-based newspaper The Advocate and attended the Washington Journalism and Media Conference as a National Youth Correspondent to represent Connecticut. As for his extracurriculars, Campbell has interned for Congressman Jim Himes, served as a Youth Services volunteer at the Ferguson Library and interned at the New-York Historical Society, making educational resources for NYC youth. Not surprisingly, he is his school’s Class President.

Do you have a favorite subject?
“My favorite subject happens to be history. I knew this subject was important to me when it started to inform my opinions on today’s issues. Knowing your history is crucial in today’s social climate, and understanding how people view the world can help you understand where to start if you want to make change.”

You have achieved a lot during high school. Would you share a challenge you’ve had to face?
“My mom’s battle with cancer. The surgeries. The chemo. My twin brother, sister and I living with neighbors while she recovered. It was challenging for all of us. But we’ve grown stronger from it, and my mom is a healthy, beautiful cancer survivor today. I couldn’t be more grateful to have her by my side. We’re besties.”

What do you think defines your generation?
“We aren’t afraid to be ourselves—to break the rules. We’re the generation of change. Contrary to popular belief, we also want to bring people along with us rather than dictate what they should do.” What do you hope to achieve during your college years? “I hope to expand my mind and continue my passions for civics, history, writing and LGBTQ+ work. College is also the perfect time to pick up new skills, improve those I already have and venture down new and exciting paths. Wherever I end up, I want to make the best of it.”

Looking past college, where do you see yourself in ten years from now?
“I see myself doing something for the people. Whether that be through law, activism, charity work or anything else in between, I know that I want to help people who need support and positive change in their lives.”

QUICK TAKES

If I could have dinner with anyone: “Well, I’m not much of a dinner person, but I would definitely have afternoon tea with Mae West or RuPaul.”

If I could change the world: “I would fight for a time when minority groups, such as the LGBTQ+ community, don’t have to fight for what should be basic rights to start with.”

SYDNEY COFFIELD
Rye Country Day

Photo: Steven Vandervelden | Vandy Photography

Heading into her senior year at Rye Country Day School, Stamford’s Sydney Coffield knows her own strength—and she’s developing it more and more each day. Working on an independent study on racial bias in the criminal justice system, she pairs her long-held interest in race with her scholarly prowess. Since a toddler, she has been part of Jack and Jill of America, an organization that was founded by moms back during the Great Depression to support African-American children through social, cultural and educational opportunities. She also serves as service chair for a teen group. Sydney learned something else about herself back in middle school: a love of dance. She’s been dancing since she was only three years old and has since learned many different styles, including hip-hop, ballet, contemporary, lyrical, jazz, tap and acro—she’s not too shy to compete as well. Last summer she also shared her talent with her hometown as the dance teacher for Mill River Park Collaborative.

How would you describe yourself?
“I would definitely describe myself as dedicated and hardworking. I know that’s what everyone says, but I honestly feel like it applies to me. If I have a goal I want to achieve, I will do anything to reach that goal, and I will always push myself to be better.”

Do you have a favorite subject?
“French is my favorite subject because of everything that comes with learning the language. Unlike other subjects, when learning a language you also learn a totally different culture, and you get to apply your knowledge of the language and its culture in the real world.”

What’s a challenge that you have had to face?
“Living with Sickle Cell Anemia. SCA is a blood illness that causes half of my cells to be crescent moon shaped and sticky. Long story short, these sickled cells can stick together, causing pain crises that vary in intensity. Some of these crises can lead to hospitalization, which is definitely a challenge when catching up on school, dance and other extracurricular activities.”

Nothing seems to hold you back, so what are your college plans?
“I hope to take a pre-law track in college and graduate after majoring in poli-sci and minoring in French. I also hope to explore
a vast array of other classes—like what’s stopping me from taking a cooking course or a forensics class?”

Where will you be in a decade?
“I see myself as a civil rights activist and lawyer. I hope to be working for a prestigious law firm, with the future goal of establishing my own law firm. I was inspired by Bryan Stevenson’s story Just Mercy, which details his time working with death-row inmates and people who were taken advantage of by the criminal justice system. This new-found inspiration led me to create an independent study focusing on the racial biases in the criminal justice system within the twenty-first century with my teacher Mr. Morgan. We discussed stop-and-frisk procedures—focusing on NYC mainly; sentencing rates between whites and their black/latinx counterparts; plea pressure/plea bargaining; and the lasting effects of harsh/wrongful imprisonment.”

What was summer 2020 like?
“This summer I created a summer camp for kids pre-k through fourth called Camp on Wheels. My friend and I both worked at a camp last summer and wanted to continue; however, the camp was canceled thanks to Covid-19. We took this opportunity to create our own. We travel to different people’s houses providing a summer camp in their backyard. We do arts and crafts, water games, dance and play sports. Creating this camp allows me to work with kids while also hanging out with my bestie.”

QUICK TAKES

Advice to high school freshmen: “Learn how to balance work and play, establish a good group of friends and figure out a schedule that works for you.”

If I could have dinner with anyone: “It’d definitely be with the Obamas. Who would give up a chance to dine with Barack and Michelle Obama?”

My motto:Qui Vivra Verra. It roughly translates to: Those who live shall see. I take it as the French equivalent of YOLO.”

Superpower I’d love: “The ability to read minds. It would be so helpful to know what people are thinking, and it would be really interesting.”

My generation: “We are definitely very determined and won’t cease speaking out against injustices until they are undone.”

ZACHARY TUSA
Stamford High School

Life isn’t all fun and games. Try telling that to Stamford High School senior Zach Tusa. He has been a Varsity soccer player since ninth grade and a starter since tenth and was named team captain in his junior year. He was selected to the All FCIAC West Team and received the Fall Student-Athlete Award this past year. Zach handles the pressure of athletic leadership with a level-headedness that he applies to his academics as well—he’s been an Honor Roll student since freshman year, is a member of the Science National Honor Society, and is a Mickey Lione Jr. Fund Scholarship Award finalist. As for service, he received an Outstanding Youth Volunteer Award from the United Way of Western CT and is a member of Stamford High’s Leadership Academy and Future Business Leaders of America. His school also honored him with the P.R.I.D.E. Award for being a positive role model.

Where does your competitive streak come from?
“I absolutely hate to waste time, so I make sure to put as much effort as possible into whatever it is I’m doing, from schoolwork to training for sports to volunteering. There is a clear relationship between my dedication to hard work and my competitiveness, for I am a firm believer of the notion ‘what you put in is what you get out.’ This love for competition began as I first started to play sports and since then has blossomed into one of my defining character traits. I am also extremely compassionate. My friends and family mean the world to me, so I feel that it is my duty to always be by their sides and to express how much I care for them.”

Who do you look up to?
“The most prominent role models in my life are my parents. Their constant love and support have shaped me to be the person that I am today. Whether it’s coming to my sports games, helping me on a homework question or cooking an amazing meal, my parents always seem to make me a happier and better person.”

What are your college plans?
“It is my goal to continue to progress both academically and personally while I pursue my college career, wherever that may be. Although it is my primary concern to succeed in the classroom, I believe that college is also an opportunity to meet new people, as well as an environment to discover more about myself and what I enjoy doing the most. Making the most of what college has to offer is very important to me. I would like to grow not only as a student, but also as a person. In addition to this, I want to be able to leave with the knowledge, skills and experiences necessary in helping me to prepare for a life beyond college.”

What’s it like to be a teen here?
“Stamford is a great city for teens. There are plenty of beaches, parks, fields and courts for outdoor entertainment and an extensive downtown area. I’ve made many trips to Donut Delight, Colony Grill and West Beach. The city is large enough so that there is always something new and interesting to do, yet small enough so that it takes only twenty minutes to meet up with friends who live on the other side of town.”

QUICK TAKES

Favorite extracurricular: “Playing for my high school’s soccer team. It allowed me to establish many new relationships, feel more connected to my school and its spirit, and competitively play a sport that I love.”

If I could have dinner with anyone: “LeBron James. One of the best basketball players of all time, he gives back to the people, has a charismatic personality and is an extremely exciting basketball player to watch.”

Favorite local place: “The small beach located close to my house. It overlooks the New York City skyline and downtown Stamford, and the sunsets there are incredible.”

SALOME ALFARO
Sacred Heart Greenwich

Co-captain of the Varsity volleyball team, a Eucharistic Minister, a member of Voices (Sacred Heart’s literary multilingual magazine) and Senior Peer Leader to incoming freshman. To be clear, this is one high schooler: Salome Alfaro. She volunteers at Inspirica, Neighbor to Neighbor, and the Carver Center to help children. A first-generation student, she comes to Stamford from Lima, Peru. She and her uncle want to bring education to her community, so they worked with Iglesia Esperanza Church in Peru to raise funds to provide supplies for building a school. She continues her fundraising efforts and keeps in touch with students and teachers. While doing all of this, she manages a rigorous course load, with AP and Honors classes. She shows skills in world languages, global scholarship and citizenship and a natural and deeply genuine desire to connect with people of various backgrounds and cultures. When not exploring the world, she hopes one day to be a pediatrician in Stamford.

Do you have a favorite subject?
“I have been fascinated with languages for the longest time. Going to French and Arabic class were always the highlight of my day. Not only did I get to learn new vocabulary and have conversations with my classmates and teachers, but I learned about two completely new and unique cultures. In French, we watched movies, listened to French rap and enjoyed the Galette de Rois every January. In Arabic, we had a traditional Moroccan tea ceremony, Skyped with students in Egypt and practiced our calligraphy. Each class never felt like school; it was as if I was stepping foot into an entirely different part of the world.”

What was it like going from public to private school?
“Going from a public elementary school in Stamford to a private, all-girls, Catholic, predominantly white school in Greenwich was one of the biggest challenges for me. Not only was the academic rigor more intense at Sacred Heart, but I felt like I did not fit in this new community at all. I struggled with getting used to putting in double the effort I did in elementary school just to keep up with the other students and finding my place in an environment that was so foreign to me.”

What did you like about Sacred Heart?
“I will forever be grateful for Sacred Heart and the countless opportunities and experiences I had there. I will miss the familial-like community. With a graduating class of eighty-two girls, we all became sisters.”

Do you think of anyone as your role model?
“My parents. They both left their countries, their families and, essentially, their entire lives behind in South America. They knew nothing about the United States or what challenges would lie ahead for them. Yet, despite all the barriers they faced and thanks to the infinite sacrifices they made, my parents were able to give my brothers and me everything we ever needed. I have always hoped to embody these values of courage, determination, hard work and selflessness that they have shown me.”

What defines your generation?
“I think our generation is defined by change. We are acutely aware of the injustices in our society and are not afraid to fight for change. Whether it’s organizing protests, starting clubs, or standing up to people who are acting in unjust ways, our generation is fearlessly taking on the challenge of reforming our society and the world for the better. The immense display of unity and activism for important issues like climate change and against racism and all forms of discrimination have left me completely in awe and hopeful for the future of our country.”

QUICK TAKES

Tip for succeeding in high school: “Do “Take classes you are genuinely interested in.”

Favorite extracurricular: “100% volleyball! I loved how close our team was—we were only ten girls. We all became amazing friends, which made our team all the much stronger.”

Currently binge watching: “Money Heist. I loved Elite and decided to watch Money Heist since many of the characters are the same. If you love drama, crime, and thriller shows, you’ll love Money Heist!”

My motto: “YOLO—You Only Live Once. I try to never live my life with regrets and encourage my friends and family to do the same.”

Dream destination: “Bora Bora. I have always dreamed of having my honeymoon there.”

Favorite local place: “I love eating at Reddi Rooster! Their chicken parm sandwich and chicken in general is literally the best.”

MOLI MA
St. Luke’s School

A senior at St. Luke’s, Moli Ma, excels in art. She has received awards for her work, including First Place for a painting on exhibit in the Stamford Art Show 2020, the 4th Congressional District Art Competition, and High Honor at the CAEA Youth Art Celebration Exhibition 2019 (as well as the third straight year medaling). She also attended an art intensive at Cooper Union and contributed her impressive artistic chops to design and create scenery for Theater Stagecraft for four mainstage productions. She expressed herself other ways, too. Along with linguistics—speaking Mandarin and advanced French and having received an English Award—she has jumped into cultural and political issues through St. Luke’s organizations. She co-founded the Feminism Club, served as a member of the Debate Team since ninth grade, contributes to the literary magazine (The Pendulum), co-founded the Asian Affinity Group and serves as a Community Goals for Learning facilitator (taking on racism, politics and other weighty topics). Further, she presented on climate change in a public policy lab at St. Luke’s and even created sustainable clothing for a fashion show. Creative and determined to make a difference, Moli is destined to take on climate justice or any issue that strikes her passion, undaunted by the scale and scope before her.

What do you love about art?
“I really cherish my little chunk of creative time during the school day, especially since stress has picked up these past few years. Art class feels like a sanctuary in the middle of very intense academic obligations. It’s a space where I can do what I love most without interruptions.”

What is a difficulty you have overcome?
“The transition when I first moved to America. I was ten. The language part was difficult, of course, but I had to assimilate to a culture so dramatically different than my own in a very short period of time. I kind of got whiplash trying to keep up with fifth graders and their Disney channel references. Honestly, I’m still struggling.”

What defines your generation?
“A common recognition that the way our world has functioned so far is flawed, and that it stands to hurt a lot of vulnerable people. It’s so wonderful to see people my age or younger taking charge and actually fighting for our world’s most marginalized—be it people of color, frontline communities affected by climate change, people living below the poverty line, members of the LGBTQ+ community, or so many others previously unheard.”

What role can teens take now?
“Any role that adults can, really. Maybe even more! We are more connected than ever, and the constant flow of information we get from social media and the internet has played a huge role in us educating ourselves. Teens are powerful, and we are trending towards becoming more and more influential at important tables where decisions are made.”

Looking ahead, what do you hope for in college?
“College is the time for me to really home in on my craft and my activism, I want to tune out any distractions that aren’t helping me accomplish my goals. I want to explore different types of art and creativity, and I want to take on a more active role in community organizing…wherever that community happens to be. To me, college represents an immense privilege, which is why it’s something I look forward to taking advantage of as much as possible. The fact that I am absolutely immersed in an environment of privilege isn’t lost on me, so I think it is my duty to take what I can from my position and somehow help those who weren’t afforded all these opportunities.”

QUICK TAKES

People I admire: “Some greatest hits include Kehinde Wiley, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Greta Thunberg.”

Finding a passion: “I started taking art seriously by eighth grade. I’m not sure why but something switched, and I started immersing myself in the process.”

JOSHUA CHARLESTON
Westhill

When Joshua Charleston joined the Westhill Engineering Club, he was that much closer to his intended future. From designing and creating models for practical use or for display to learning the basic skills of creating and building models online and then printing them on a 3D printer, he was developing his knowledge of how things work and how to make them even better. He applied his lessons in Robotics Club, where he helped design, build and code robots. A well-rounded student in AP classes, Joshua is a member of the National Honor Society and the Social Studies Honor Society and won a Junior Book Award. He’s been part of the college-prep program AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) since 2013. Moreover he improves life for others: volunteering for Sacred Heart Church, helping freshman acclimate to high school and tutoring students facing the dreaded Algebra 2 Honors final. With energy left to spare, he squeezes in athletics: Lacrosse, Cross-Country, Ultimate Frisbee Club and soccer. Clearly, he’s figured out how to make high school work.

Do you have a favorite subject?
“My favorite subject is math. I think that math could be used for real-word applications if you know what to do with it. It makes me think. It requires being able to understand concepts and apply them to any type of question. It builds on previous concepts and expands into new territory, which for me, makes this course always rich in content. Progressing from solving algebraic equations to solving complex integrals, limits and derivatives is really cool.”

What are your college goals?
“I hope to achieve a CSE major and maybe minor in another degree. Technology is the future and the direction the world is going towards. More and more jobs are going to require people who can develop. I also hope to have fun, meet new people and make new friends. College, while a place to specialize in a certain field, is also an opportunity to discover what I enjoy—so many clubs to take part in, majors to choose from, and people to connect with. By the end of college, my horizons will be broader and I will have a lot of great moments to remember.”

Where are you in a decade?
“In ten years, I see myself working in a job that relates to my CSE major and enjoying my job. I also see myself making decent living and enjoying life. I don’t want to be in a job that I hate to wake up and spend five to ten hours in every day. I want to do something that I feel excited to do. I hope that I’m financially secure and content. Growing up, my parents struggled to make money and sometimes that made it difficult to get things. I don’t have to be a millionaire, but I want make enough where money isn’t really an issue.”

What can teens do now?
“Teens should be more active in politics. We are the future of the country, and we should be proactive now. Getting familiar with how the political system works, staying informed and being open minded about different perspectives are crucial steps to be ready for the future.”

QUICK TAKES

Key to success: “I try my best to not worry about things too much and focus on remaining calm in most situations.”

Off the clock: “I like to play video games a lot and learn new things.”

Role model “Kobe Bryant. He would grind every day, being the first guy in the gym and the last one to leave.”

Best thing about Westhill: “Its diversity make interactions more interesting and gives me the opportunity to broaden my perspectives.”

BIYENI EUSEBIO
Lauralton Hall

Photo: Shades Shutters Photography

One might say Biyeni Eusebio is a good listener, but she’s also a good talker. The Lauralton Hall senior understands five languages: Spanish, English, French and two African dialects. Born in Minnesota, she also lived in Africa sometime before moving to Connecticut. Since coming here, she’s been a member of the Kids Helping Kids organization, for which she started as a student volunteer and then became an ambassador and now a member of the Youth Advisory Council. That puts her in a leadership position to help hundreds of student volunteers collaborate, strategize and implement student-led service projects, such as clothing drives. She also took center stage as Martha Brewster in Arsenic and Old Lace and even won a 2019 Halo Award for Best Leading Actress in a Classic Play. From Debate Club, Drama Club, Spanish Club, Student Council, LH News, Student Ambassador and Advanced Vocal Ensemble, the young powerhouse is primed for a future in international relations.

Do you have a favorite subject?
“The subject I enjoy the most would be English. I love the ability to learn how people communicated their passions, pain, and other emotions through literature both fictional and real. There is something so beautiful in the intentions and feelings behind every inconspicuous word.”

When did you know English was important to you?
“To tell the truth, English was my worst enemy because I could not understand it, being that my first languages were French and Ewé. Besides a few questions and phrases, I was not formally introduced to English until I started school. My mother would encourage me to read all the books that I could, whether it was as simple as The Ugly Duckling or complex as the Harry Potter series. This expanded my imagination, improved my communication and started my love for the subject.”

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
“Happy. Most people can define that by money, success, love and so many other things. In ten years, I want to discover my definition of happiness and ensure that the people in my future community have a chance to experience real happiness as well.”

Do you have a role model?
“My mother is my biggest role model. Not only did she raise three children on her own, but also she taught me strength, perseverance and how to love. I hope to one day be even half the woman she is.”

What defines your generation?
“We are revolutionary. We will scream until our voices cannot be ignored, and fight until the battle is won.”

What’s it like to be a teen here?
“Outside of my busy days focusing on school and extracurriculars, I enjoy spending time in downtown Stamford with my friends. Whether it’s going to the movies, out for a bite to eat or simply walking around the city, there is always another teen you know enjoying the day out as well.”

QUICK TAKES

Tip for succeeding in high school: “Expect the unexpected.”

Superpower I’d love: “Travel through time.”

Favorite extracurricular: “Theater, because I love performing.”

My motto: “You can (biyeni)thing you want to be.”

Dream destination: “Heaven.”

RONALD HARVEY
King School

Ronald Harvey won’t say it, but at King School (Class of 2022), he gets good grades. Make that, really, really, really good grades. Let’s just say he’s been a King Scholar each semester since sixth grade. He has participated in the Upper School Math Team since middle school and then turned around to tutor fellow students in the Math Help Center. He showed that same team spirit in basketball, until he broke his leg before freshman year. He routed his passion for the game by working on his free throw and shooting skills with Coaches Mike Evans and Dave Hopla. He also got a lot of help from another basketball coach, Craig Austrie, who he had been working out with since a young age. Austrie also helped Ronnie through the injury. By sophomore year, he was playing Varsity.

Do you have a favorite subject?
“I definitely focused on math earlier in my life, but as I got to high school, I really began to go deeper into all my other subjects as well. For example, I’ve gotten a lot more into the humanities. For math, my parents really stressed its importance when I was young because my mom is European, so I put a lot of effort there. In high school though, I enjoy the variety of subjects, and I feel like I don’t get so burned out with an individual one if I spread out my focus.”

How would you describe yourself?
“I’m a pretty carefree person for the most part, and even when I have a ton of work, I try not to stress about it too much. I also enjoy being friends with a lot of different people, and I think this has helped me understand and appreciate a lot of different perspectives. And I play a lot of basketball too, which is great because it balances academics and athletics really well for me.”

What’s a challenge you’ve had to face?
“The biggest challenge was breaking my femur in the summer before freshman year. I was all pumped up to have a really fun summer, play basketball and even get some school courses under my belt, but it all ended when I broke it on July 1. The injury was devastating because it meant that I was bedridden for basically the entire summer, and I wasn’t back to 100% until nearly two years later. I am really proud of myself, though, for staying strong and finding small ways to continue working on things that mattered to me. I shot a basketball off one leg and crutches two days after being discharged from the hospital, even though the doctor said I should forget about basketball for a while.”

What role can teens take now?
“Teens need to be bolder. As we near adulthood, we have to free ourselves from the protection that childhood comes with and accept the responsibility of being more adult-like as early as we can. That way, teens will be prepared for any challenges that lie ahead. So we need to be more self-reliant and unafraid to speak our minds, even to adults.”

Where are you in ten years?
“I have no idea. I’m interested in a wide range of subjects, and I don’t feel ready to narrow them down and risk closing any doors. I could see becoming a lawyer, an engineer or a businessman, but at the same time I could see myself as a professor or a researcher.”

QUICK TAKES

Tip for succeeding in high school: “Don’t let big assignments stress you out too much and learn not to procrastinate.”

Advice to high school freshman: “Go out of your way to talk to new people.”

If I could have dinner with anyone: “Gordon Ramsey.”

My motto: “Don’t make excuses for yourself, but accept faults in others.”

Summer 2020 in five words: “I hope for a vaccine.”

SOPHIA VISCARELLO
The Masters School

Photo: Richard Freeda

Good luck keeping up with Sophia Viscarello. A senior at The Masters School, she not only takes AP courses in Spanish, biology and English, as well as honors classes, she also serves as a co-leader of the Midnight Run Club. It brings food and clothes directly to homeless people in New York City. She learns their stories. Conscientious and dedicated, she also helps her peers at school. For example, she serves as a tutor at the school’s Writing Center and as a Peer Leader. Elected as one of the two co-chairs (her school’s equivalent of Student Body President), she took the opportunity to give back to her fellow classmates. By understanding people, listening purposefully and communicating effectively, she plans to become a teacher to improve the education system. Until then, she’s helping her mother and sister in their business, Shirley Delicious Confections.

What do you like about your school?
“The thing that I love the most about my school is also the very thing that drew me to it in the first place: the community founded on kindness. The Masters School is so unique and special because I know that I can make mistakes, try new things and fall flat on my face, but I can always be confident that I’m surrounded by people who will pick me back up again, dust me off and continue to support me.”

Outside of academics, what is a favorite school activity?
“Midnight Runs! Planning and executing some Midnight Runs were some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It was challenging, between finding creative ways to raise money, encouraging people to go through their closets to donate clothes and, all the while, keeping up with a never-ending school schedule, but I truly loved every moment of it. Getting to offer help to the people living on the streets in New York City and just having the opportunity to talk with them and exchange life stories is something I’ll never forget.”

Anything else?
“I’ve been a fencer since I was ten years old. I practiced and competed locally throughout elementary and middle school at a fencing club, and then when I entered high school, competed on the Varsity team for all four years.”

How would you describe yourself?
“I would describe myself as intuitive, empathetic and thoughtful. Everything I do, I do with care, and I’m really good at putting myself in someone else’s shoes. Sometimes all a person needs is a good listener.”

Do you have a mentor?
“I was taught from a young age that there’s always someone you can learn from. As a result, I’ve collected quite a few mentors. My grandmother, for one. She is one of the strongest and most perceptive people I know, and I always find myself blown away by her simple wisdom. Also, my middle school librarian, Dr. Frye, who showed me that the world is so much bigger than I knew and that I just need to reach out and explore it. And Ms. Emery, my ninth-grade English teacher, who taught me how to write with bravery, honesty and textual evidence. And, finally, my sophomore year history teacher Mr. Barrios who doubled as my advisor throughout the process of crafting my TEDx talk (youtube.com/watch?v=ljrri6lygmk). He showed me what real unconditional support looks like and helped me find the bravery to tell my story and speak out against the ways perfectionism is perpetuated in our country’s education system.”

QUICK TAKES

Advice to high school freshmen: “There are going be ridiculous days, bad grades, lost games and every other up and down you can imagine, but try your best to take it in stride.”

Currently binge watching: “Criminal Minds! I love crime/mystery TV shows.”

Dream destination: “Alaska. The No. 1 thing on my bucket list to see the Northern Lights.”

Favorite local place: “It’s a tie between my local branch of the library and Lakeside Diner, where they have the best homemade donuts.”

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