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Class of 2021 Spotlight

Celebrating our most recent graduates. 
DRUMMING UP SUCCESS

Percussionist Harrison Gelber was a founding member of Steward’s drumline and the first Spartan to be selected for All-State Band three years in a row. He also set another record this spring: He was accepted into all 15 of the competitive, audition-based collegiate music programs to which he applied.

Combined, those colleges offered Harrison more than $1 million in scholarships. His final selection, Furman University, offered this outstanding academician the opportunity to double major as well as receive outstanding percussion instruction.

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES

While about 50% of Steward seniors typically choose colleges outside of Virginia, just a handful leave the country. This year, Casey McClendon is headed to the University of St. Andrews to study German and Social Anthropology, Matthew Wilson will attend the University of British Columbia to engage in its well-known environmental studies program, and Lucas McCarthy will play soccer at FC Malaga City Academy on the coast of Spain. “

Traveling has always been a passion of mine,” Casey said. “Since I was young I knew I wanted to go to college somewhere different. After visiting University of St. Andrews during my junior year, I fell in love with the school's traditions, quaint Scottish town, and the international student body.”

DESIGNS ON THE BIG APPLE

Two Class of 2021 graduates, Jacob Credle and Kennon Cummings, are both headed to Manhattan this fall to explore artistic pursuits. Jacob will attend the world-renowned Parsons School of Design at The New School. He’ll study strategic design and management, which combines art and business.

“I never really knew I would be interested in pursuing anything related to business before participating in the Entrepreneurship Program at Steward,” Jacob said. “Also, [Middle and Upper School art teacher] Ms. Sejal Vaywala has been instrumental in helping me discover my artistic potential. I am so thankful to her and Steward for that.”

Kennon and Jacob agreed that they have always loved Manhattan and are excited to live there. Kennon will major in interactive media arts in NYU’s much-lauded arts program.

“The major serves as a broad launchpad of all things creative technology, teaching students fluency in many forms of digital media, preparing students with open minds, and helping them reach their creative potential to revolutionize the digital world,” she said.

MAKING HISTORY AT ELON

When Hunter Clifton matriculates to Elon University this fall, she will make history as the first student ever accepted into the university’s new nursing program. Hunter, who plans to become a pediatric or SEJAL maternity nurse, shared that her childhood experiences helped form her career plans. “I was a really sick little girl," she said. "I grew up in a lot of doctors' offices and hospitals. Nurses are so important to make you feel better — they’re the ones who connect with you and take care of you.”

Despite her certainty about her future career, she was less sure of her college choice — until she visited Elon. “It wasn’t on my radar until [Director of College Counseling] Mrs. Jeter suggested it might be a good fit for me. I was on campus for two hours, fell in love with it, and applied early decision," she said. The rest is history, literally.

COAST TO COAST CONNECTIONS

International students Nancy Huang and Migi Wang, both originally from China, have made the most of Upper School at Steward. This fall, they’ll head to separate coasts to continue their studies in America.

Migi will go to Barnard College, the women’s college of Columbia University, to major in East Asian studies. Nancy will attend U.C. San Diego, her first-choice college, which she chose for its economics and mathematics programs, and as an opportunity to broaden her American experience.

“I grew up in Fujian Nanping, a southern mountain city in China, and lived in Richmond, also a southern city,” Nancy said. “I want to try a different lifestyle, and going to college is my best chance, so I decided to apply to schools in California.”

RELATED CAREER PATHS

Anna and Mary Pastore have been a part of Steward’s small, tight-knit community since kindergarten. They’ve shared many experiences here as twins and classmates. While they’ll go their separate ways for college this fall, there are common themes among their choices.

Both Anna and Mary chose small colleges with strong traditions and communities. Mary will attend the all-girls Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania while Anna heads west to Oberlin College in Ohio. Both are passionate about social justice and plan to pursue related careers.

“It’s important that people who don’t have a voice in society have someone who hears them,” Mary said. “With the education I will receive, I will have the opportunity to help.” She shared that she’s interested in art as well, and is considering a potential career that would combine the two.

Anna, who will also play tennis at Oberlin, plans to study prelaw and is most interested in protecting immigrants. “Same sentiment, different focus,” she added. 

THAT COMMUNITY FEEL

“You only get to go to college once,” George Goldstein said, describing a life-changing moment he shared with Callen Smith '20 while visiting Callen in South Bend, Indiana this winter. On that trip, he saw clearly that his college experience shouldn’t just be about a starting salary after graduation. The Notre Dame community, one he describes as “normal people who have strong integrity and high achievement,” was the one for him.

At Notre Dame, he’ll continue the entrepreneurship-focused education he (and Callen) began in Steward's Entrepreneurship Program, as well as with their long-term team internship with Averhealth. George plans to major in business and minor in Portuguese and ultimately hopes to “create a product that could change the world.” He’ll attend Notre Dame with a full scholarship as part of the ROTC program.

PROXIMITY AND POSSIBILITIES

Although Georgetown University has one of the toughest admissions programs in the country, its prestige doesn’t come up in conversation with Hailey Wharram, who will matriculate there. What excites Hailey? The proximity to Washington, D.C.

“I’m a huge museum nerd,” Hailey laughed. Most importantly, she’s enthusiastic about internship opportunities that could impact her future career. She’s interested in political science, English, and possibly law school. “I like the idea of being able to implement meaningful change on the local, state, and national level,” she said.

FORWARD THINKING

Drew Thompson is keeping his options open and his dreams big. Drew, who is headed west to Washington & Lee University, said, “My goal for my undergraduate education is to become a better thinker rather than a specialist in a certain area. I want the skills and credentials to accomplish my goals, which include writing a book, living in Europe, working on a political campaign, and becoming a newspaper columnist.”

He plans to gain these skills both in and out of the classroom, just as he did at Steward. For example, he’s joining a service leadership program called #HungerFighters, an interest that was sparked while learning about food access in the Bryan Innovation Lab.

FEELS LIKE HOME

For the past two summers, Nicole Odibo and Kennedy Crook both participated in a Virginia Tech enrichment program called Black College Institute. The experience, Nicole and Kennedy agree, propelled Virginia Tech to be their first-choice college. The girls, both honor students and lauded athletes, will attend Tech in the fall.

When asked what made up her mind, Kennedy said, “It was the feeling of being there. It just felt homey in a good way, like I could spend my four years there and be comfortable and happy.”

Kennedy and Nicole aren’t only predicting a fun four years; they’re also primed for future success. Kennedy is pre-med with a psychology major. Like her brother, Ryan Odibo '18, Nicole will attend Virginia Tech on a full merit scholarship, and she plans to become a physical therapist.
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