Awty’s Class of 2020 and a Year to Remember
Although this year’s Awty seniors had to adapt to drastic changes amidst this worldwide pandemic, the school community came together to celebrate the seniors’ positive spirits and amazing accomplishments. The hardworking faculty members and parent volunteers on the senior committee made the best of the last semester by organizing a virtual prom and dropping off gifts at each house. Personally, I will miss all the seniors as I looked up to them for so many years and will cherish the memories made together in sports and clubs. I truly believe this year’s seniors led by example by demonstrating the importance of passion and commitment.
In terms of the future, Awty’s class of 2020 acceptances touch all corners of the world. In the United States, students are headed off to West Coast schools such as UCLA, UC Berkeley, and Pomona College, East Coast schools such as MIT, Cornell, John Hopkins, and NYU, Midwest schools such as Northwestern, Washington University at St. Louis, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Chicago, and last but not least, in-state schools such as UT Austin and Rice. Internationally, students are headed off to Canadian schools such as the University of British Columbia and McGill University, U.K schools such as UCL, University of Manchester, and King’s College London, and France schools such as Science Po.
Read more about these amazing acceptances in this Q&A with three Awty seniors about their college processes and memorable journeys at Awty:
Where will you be attending and what major will you be pursuing?
Olivia Onyejekwe: I will be attending the University of Pennsylvania! I will be majoring in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) on a pre-law/business track.
Karen Martinez: I will be attending Rice University, currently planning on double majoring in Cognitive Sciences and Linguistics.
Conner Mi: I will be attending UC Berkeley and I will be pursuing a Computer Science major with a possible Data Science double major!
What was the hardest part of the college application process or the general process as a whole?
Olivia: The college process was very difficult for me emotionally. The essays I had to write were emotionally draining as I aimed to communicate “who I really am” in 650 words and short supplements. Further, I found it difficult to balance IB coursework, my social life, my extracurricular life, and the college process. I think the hardest part of the college application process was trying to put my best foot forward while I felt the most emotionally and physically drained I ever have in my life.
Karen: The hardest part of the process for me was the financial aid portion; filling out the CSS profile, tracking down documents, and figuring out how to read tax returns on my own wasn’t easy.
Conner: I definitely think that personal and college essays are the toughest part. At this point in the process when you’re just starting your senior year, there’s not much you can do about your GPA, extracurriculars, clubs, or otherwise except to maintain them. College essays, on the other hand, are new and original. Personally, one of the hardest parts of the college essay process was thinking of what to write. With millions of college applicants, what can you write to stand out? Without any sugar-coating, every varsity victory, student leadership, or community project most likely has been equally done by someone else. However, what’s important is to consider the way you frame your college essay and what kind of light you put yourself in – that’s how you can make yourself stand out.
What did you learn about yourself from this process?
Olivia: By researching courses and answering at least 12 “why major” questions, I discovered exactly what I want to do as a career. Before the college process I never really had to reflect on why I’d chosen my intended career path and what that truly entailed.
Karen: The writing supplements definitely made me reflect on what I value most. For the CommonApp Essay, I went through several drafts because it’s hard to think about how to sum up my life in only 650 words. In rewriting drafts, I came to settle on how much help I’ve received from my parents’ hard work. Without their sacrifices, I wouldn’t be where I am today, so I strive to repay them for their efforts. I realized the importance of a supportive community, whether through family, friends, mentors, etc.
Conner: I learned about the kind of qualities I have, both those I display and those I have within me. By analyzing myself through the lens of a college application, I not only am able to identify the characteristics that make me a standout applicant but an independent student as well. I think the qualities you should find and bring out of yourself should be the ones that colleges look for most. For example, leadership and community service are definitely sought-after qualities that I had. I demonstrated this in real life through community projects, where I helped the people around me. I also emphasized it in my essays, where I wrote about human interactions with individuals.
How did certain benefits of Awty lead to your acceptance?
Olivia: As a small school, Awty’s faculty really gets to know their students. I feel like my recommendation letters and feedback on essays were sincerer because I had strong relationships with my teachers.
Karen: When I first chose my IB courses at Awty, I was doing so with the idea of going into the Pre-Med track. After reaching out to colleges, and looking more into what major [I was interested in], I realized maybe Pre-Med isn’t something I’m interested in. I like the Cognitive Sciences and Linguistics instead, and my interest in research is leading me more towards maybe pursuing graduate school afterwards. My psychology and biology classes definitely helped inspire me (CogSci), as well as my French and Arabic courses (Ling). The extracurriculars that were made available to me by Awty also helped with my acceptance. I was pretty involved with clubs like Student Ambassadors and Active Minds, which I mentioned a lot.
Conner: The college counselors are one of Awty’s best college resources and your best friends throughout this process. Awty’s current college counselors, Mr. Joshua Hudley and Ms. Cheri Goodwin, are incredible people; as long as you go to them for college help, I have full confidence they will do their absolute best for you and your colleges.
What do you think separates Awty from other schools in terms of college readiness?
Olivia: The IB curriculum focuses on writing and communicating efficiently and quickly. I think that aspect of the curriculum has made me better prepared for college. My extended essay on Power Dynamics in the NAFTA negotiations and my global politics personal research project equipped me with research and essay writing skills I know I will take to college. The internal assessments (IAs), particularly the oral IAs, made me a more confident speaker in both the academic and social settings. I think the IB curriculum provides its students with a lot of transferable skills.
Karen: I think the rigor of the IB Diploma Programme (IBDP) combined with with knowledgeable teachers at Awty helped me realize what interests I have and don’t have in terms of academics. I definitely felt challenged, but I did it!
Conner: In my opinion, the IB program as a whole helps students become college-ready. From the intensive workload to the emphasis on projects, and the nurturing of creativity to the encouragement of critical thinking, the IB helps turn the high school student into a college-ready
What will you miss about Awty?
Olivia: I will miss lunchtime and sports practices with my friends as well as the opportunities to get to know Awty’s welcoming and diverse community. Awty attracts students from international backgrounds. In the last two years, I’ve received my most impactful lessons about the
world and different cultures at the lunch tables or cheer practices.
Karen: I will miss the pretty good memories I made during Awty’s Fall Trips where I usually got to really connect with my new and old friends during that time. My 11th-grade year was probably one of the best because of the beautiful place (Mo-Ranch) where we stayed. I’ll definitely also miss my friends. They’re not going to be across campus somewhere or sitting next to me in class. I’m so excited about the great experiences that await them, and we’ll definitely be staying in touch but also looking forward to the next time we can hang out in-person.
Conner: I will miss the teachers very much. While I’ve only been here since junior year, the teachers I’ve met and connected with over my time here have helped me in so many ways to grow not only academically, but also as a person. I don’t think there is any other school with such wonderful teachers.
What are you looking forward to in college?
Olivia: I am looking forward to getting to know notable professors and exploring extracurricular activities and affinity groups I did not have the chance to participate in high school such as MAKUU, the African cultural center, and Penn’s Fashion Collected. Above all, I am really
excited to continue researching global health issues, particularly maternal mortality, through socioeconomic lenses at Penn’s Center for Global Women’s Health.
Karen: In general, I’d say the friendly atmosphere on campus. I have already started to become pretty close friends with other incoming freshmen, so I’m excited to spend more time with them there and around Houston!
Conner: I think college, for me, will be an opportunity to expand my horizons. I will learn so much new knowledge to eventually become a full-fledged member of society. It’s the next step in life for me, from which I hope I will take off running.
The insights of these talented individuals demonstrate how Awty, year after year, continues to develop excelling students who go off to share their gifts with the rest of the world. Our diverse community of families and school faculty could not be prouder of this class who pushed through unexpected obstacles and came out ready to conquer the world. As a rising senior myself in the middle of college applications, I can’t wait to share the story of my class with you all next year and I hope you come back to read about it too!
Editor's note: See where more grads are headed to college in our annual Where are they headed? story. Plus, check out – and contribute to, if you haven’t yet – our annual database of college-bound Buzz seniors.
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