Local graduates reveal their choices for universities

| June 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

Leaving lockdown for an active campus life

Rebecca Han

New Covenant Academy student Rebecca Han has lived her entire life in the area, first in Hancock Park and now Larchmont. When asked about her senior year, Han says that she would describe her feelings in one word: “ambivalent.”

On the one hand, Han says she didn’t mind taking classes while at home during the pandemic where she could stay “cozy and comfortable,” but on the other hand, she says it was disappointing to miss out on special senior activities, like the senior field trip and “Grad Night” at a local amusement park.

“Not being able to experience any of the excitement that comes with senior year was quite a bummer,” Han told the Chronicle last month. “I am beyond sad that I wasn’t able to spend quality time with my classmates in my last year of high school.”

Regardless, Han didn’t let the pandemic keep her from participating in school clubs and outside organizations. Prior to the pandemic, Han created a school club called “GREEN NCA” to raise awareness for environmental matters and give students an opportunity to consider issues like plastic pollution and global warming. “We were actually in the final steps of planning a school beach cleanup day as well as a community cleanup day, but unfortunately, we had to cancel it because of the pandemic,” said Han.

Still, club members met over Zoom to contribute ideas for future projects. “One huge initiative that we developed from those meetings was a project called “Recycling At-Home,” Han explained.

Over the span of nine months, Han says they were able to collect enough material to donate $60 to the Environmental Defense Fund foundation: “Although $60 does not sound like much, the more than 20 bags of recyclable items that we were able to collect and turn in sure made a noticeable difference!”

When it came time to apply for college, Han says that several factors were important to her search, such as school size, student life, academic rigor, cost and location. With those metrics in mind, she narrowed her top three picks to Pepperdine, UCLA and Vanderbilt.

“In the end, it came down to two universities: UCLA and Vanderbilt,” said Han. “After a lot of contemplating and decision-making, I am beyond happy to announce that I’m committed to UCLA, where I will study for the next four years.”
Han picked UCLA for several reasons. “From the moment I first visited UCLA at the age of 14 for an event, I have dreamed of going there,” she explained. Han also wanted to stay in California (“Frankly, I don’t want to leave this amazing environment behind.”), and the architecture and campus life at UCLA didn’t hurt either.

“Since I have attended a small, private school with under 200 students for the past 12 years, I wanted to go to a college where I would be able to meet a lot of new people and break out of my comfort zone, and UCLA offered that.”

Han says that she hopes to study on-campus when classes start in the fall, although a final decision from UCLA has yet to be announced.

Not sure about a major quite yet, Han says that she has a broad range of interests that she’d like to study: “I know that I want to study within a field where I can learn or grow to be a strong advocate for others.”

Moving to Dallas to study business

Elias Mansour

Loyola student Elias Mansour has roots in the neighborhood. Both of his parents grew up in the area, and the family now lives in Windsor Square. Mansour attended St. Brendan until high school, when he transferred to Loyola.

When asked about his senior year, Mansour said that the pandemic greatly affected his plans: “As a freshman picturing what my senior year would be like, I did not expect to be doing it all from home on my laptop.”

Mansour explained that Loyola has been conducting a “hybrid in-person format” for the past few months, but that it “definitely does not feel the same” as before the pandemic.

When considering colleges, he started with a list of six.

“My family and I had planned to visit schools over spring break last year, but the pandemic forced that trip to be cancelled,” said Mansour. Luckily, he was able to tour two schools, Texas Christian University and Southern Methodist University.

Mansour said that he would have applied to more colleges if he had been able to visit them. Nonetheless, he says that he is “beyond happy” with his decision.

“I will be attending Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas next fall. The first time I saw SMU, I knew it was for me,” says Mansour.

In fact, after touring the campus last fall, Mansour says that he turned to his mother, then and there, to declare that’s where he wanted to be for the next four years. “I applied for ‘Early Action’ and sent in my deposit last December, leaving me stress-free for the entire second semester,” Mansour explained.

SMU has announced that it will be fully in-class by fall, “which I cannot be more excited about,” said Mansour. He has been accepted to SMU’s Cox School of Business, where he plans to major in Business. “I am also considering a double major or minor in Film and Media Arts.

“My future career goal is to be in the entertainment industry working at a film production company.”

Leaving Larchmont to find a major in Washington

Quinn Lanza

Immaculate Heart senior Quinn Lanza is no stranger to the community. Having grown up in Larchmont, Lanza attended Larchmont Charter for elementary before transferring to Immaculate Heart. You may even have seen her selling cookies for Larchmont Village Girl Scout troop 495 in years past. Lanza also served as the student reporter at her school for this paper.

“Although the limited social interaction and virtual classes weren’t ideal, my senior year was fine,” said Lanza when asked how she had adapted to life in lockdown. “I was even able to get out of the house and play soccer for my high school team this spring,” Lanza said. “Our season was postponed and was shorter than usual due to the pandemic, but it ended up being a lot of fun.”

For college, Lanza says that she applied to 10 different universities. She was lucky in that she had visited most of them in the summer of 2019.

“I was never set on one college, but I knew that I wanted a medium-to-large sized school that was either in or near a city,” said Lanza.

It came down to Fordham, UC Santa Cruz and the University of Washington.

In the end, Lanza committed to the University of Washington. “I could see myself there more than I could at any of the other schools. It was a difficult decision to make, especially because I do not know what I want to do after college and couldn’t base my decision off of a specific program or major.”

She is excited to attend in-person classes in the fall, and she is considering a major in history. “As for future career goals, I have no clue what I want to do with my life,” Lanza concludes.

Heading east to explore academic majors

Kayla Kwak

Larchmont Charter senior Kayla Kwak has attended the local charter school since kindergarten, and she credits the Larchmont community for shaping “a big part” of her youth.

Positive about the past year, Kwak says that senior year was “overwhelming” but that it was still her “favorite year” of high school. “Sure, it wasn’t anything like a typical year at school, but I think that’s what made it even more unique and memorable. Outside of school I grew even closer with my friends, met so many new faces and took so many new opportunities.”

Kwak says that the close-knit community at Larchmont Charter made it easy to engage with classmates and teachers. Still, she found herself constantly thinking about her future. “I knew I wanted to go to college and so a big part of my senior year was that search.” Starting with a list of 15 colleges, Kwak first had to narrow the list. “I’m indecisive, so deciding on which colleges to apply to might’ve been the hardest part,” she says. Kwak was able to visit about seven of those schools, located in California, but she says that it was difficult to travel to schools in other regions. In the end, Kwak’s top three schools were NYU, Northeastern and USC.

“I’m excited to say that my final decision is NYU!” said Kwak. “The school has an incredibly vibrant community, especially it being in the heart of New York City. I knew I would be able to thrive as a student. Being able to experience the diversity, the people, the extremely unique community that’s full of opportunities was a place I wanted to be at,” she explains.

Kwak was accepted to a two-year program at NYU called Liberal Studies, which will allow her to explore multiple interests, and then she can transfer into a different NYU program depending on the path that she takes.

This approach is exactly what Kwak was looking for. “There are so many things that interest me, and I don’t have a specific major in mind,” says Kwak, who plans to take classes in political science, media and marketing.

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Category: People

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