Concord-Carlisle High School
Class of 2009
I grew up in Boston and attended the Concord public schools through the METCO program. I recognize that many METCO students talk about the difficulty of the commute coupled with the participation in rigorous coursework and extracurricular activities, but I’d done it since elementary school, and I was happy to be in school in Concord after recognizing the benefits.
Anyone who knows me will agree that my personality is really a mixed bag, and so are my interests, both academic and extracurricular. At Concord-Carlisle High School, I enjoyed my classes in biology, psychology, and literature. I additionally took part in many different activities during my high school years. First and foremost after academics came sports. I played football, basketball, and ran track and field. I also played violin in the orchestra and had roles in some of the theater department productions. I served in student government and joined various other clubs such as Serious Repercussions with Senor Pohl, none of which would have been possible without the love and care of my host family, the Feeneys, and my own parents, who fully supported me and drove up and down to Concord on many occasions.
My top priority as I approached the college search process was to find a place that would allow me to continue with some of those activities. I wanted to be a part of an institution that had a reputation for academic rigor, and as for sports, I wanted someplace where I’d be able to play at a competitive level but also enjoy myself during my college years.
I applied to many different schools, and they didn’t necessarily have much in common. I wanted to leave myself plenty of options in case I didn’t like a school as much as I expected to once I visited it. My final choice was Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. It made the most sense to me. I knew I’d be able to participate in music, dance, and track and field while also earning a degree from a competitive and prestigious university.
Wesleyan also appealed to me because of its diversity. My perception of the institution was that it hosted students and faculty from all walks of life. It also had all the aspects of the college experience, from serious academics to great parties. I enjoyed the opportunity to enroll in the university with the ability to take whatever classes I wanted to take and be whomever I wanted to be with an almost certain chance of being successful in whatever I chose. My parents urged me to consider a liberal arts education. They knew that it would be useful for me not to have a very specific program of study, and even though I didn’t fully understand the meaning of a liberal arts program while I was applying, I knew I didn’t want to apply to a program as rigid as, say, business.
My years at Wesleyan were absolutely amazing. I had the opportunity to take part in all the activities I’d hoped to do. I was on the track and field team as a sprinter and hurdler, setting a school record in the 4 x 100 meter relay. I was named captain for indoor and outdoor season both junior and senior year. I also held down a bunch of different campus jobs that were surprisingly entertaining. I took a variety of classes in college, and in doing so figured out what my strengths were. I took numerous courses in the STEM field, ballet and West African dance classes, and Taiko drumming, all of which earned credits toward my liberal arts degree. I didn’t do particularly well in economics or psychology, my first choice of majors. I thought astronomy might be a good fit until I discovered it was ninety-five percent physics. Then I took an intro class in earth and environmental sciences, and it instantly clicked with me for so many reasons. I found the concept of understanding the earth on a big picture level to be invigorating! Also, the department was small and the professors were all very personable. They encouraged me the way they’d encourage any student, but it also seemed as if it was a priority of theirs to increase diversity within the department and within the sciences in general, a topic I now take very seriously. Geology has long been primarily a white male discipline, and that’s finally beginning to change. After taking the intro class, which I enjoyed so much, I learned that there would be field trips, large and small, to the Connecticut countryside and eventually to Puerto Rico, all with lots of time outdoors. That sounded like the right major to me!
As I approached my senior year, I realized that I should think about finding some sort of internship or research project if I wanted to find employment after college. I was a little late in looking, so I scrambled around begging professors to give me research positions. I was finally signed on to an experimental petrology/geochemistry lab by a professor studying Martian meteorites. In other words, rocks from Mars. It was a good fit for me. I studied hydrogen isotopes to understand the role of water throughout Mars’ history for my undergraduate senior thesis project, graduated with honors, and am now in my third year of a M.S./Ph.D. program in geology at the University of Maryland. I have completed my M.Sc. and am working on my Ph.D. project. My concentration is sulfur isotope geochemistry on Martian meteorites and ocean island basalts. I have a little more work to do, and then my title will be Doctor!
Receiving The Scholarship Fund of Concord and Carlisle money made me feel as if all my efforts to be an integral part of the school and the community were not only recognized but appreciated. That means even more to me now than it did when I received the grant. At the time, my attitude was basically “Yay, an award; this will really be helpful with my tuition.” But in hindsight, I really like knowing that people who were part of my life in Concord recognized that I would benefit from this special recognition from the community.