fbpx
Campus directory on CA quad

CA Curious

Making the connection (from a safe distance)

April 8, 2021

Have you ever bought a house sight unseen? Purchased a car without taking a test drive? This intrepid investing is exactly what independent schools called upon this admissions season.  Finding ourselves in the unique dichotomy of stronger interest than ever, with less opportunity to authentically connect with prospective families, CA’s admissions team called upon our mission and our learning community to help us.    

It is no surprise that the pandemic has created a surge in interest in independent schools.  But just how much of an increase? The National Association of Independent Schools just released their admissions snapshot – a quick way to check admissions and enrollment trends across the country and in regional areas.  Across the country, 60% of schools reported increases in their application numbers; in the southeast, that percentage was slightly higher. While it seems that the elementary years saw the biggest increases in applications across the board, CA’s uptick in applications was especially felt in our non-traditional entry grades of 7,8,10, and 11.   

How did we respond to the challenge of higher interest with limited ability to connect? Last May I wrote about how CA’s balance of mission consistency and institutional flexibility empowered us through these unique times to prepare the best possible program for our students.  The same held true with our admissions work this year.  

With the support of the entire learning community, we revised our outreach efforts to highlight different aspects of our mission-centered program. All events were offered live, and in most cases, recorded, so families could curate their own series of admissions events in a way that worked with their schedules.  

Campus tours went virtual, with parent and student ambassadors using our interactive campus map to connect with small groups via Zoom. Our series of Charger Chats–focused each week on a particular unique aspect of our learning community–went live at lunchtime once a week from late September to early December. These events each closed a Q&A session with current students and parents. Shadow days morphed into virtual mini-classes, where perspective students had the opportunity not just to watch a class, but to take one, led by a CA teacher. Of course, our interviews were also held via Zoom.   Through all of this, prospective students and their families had an opportunity to e-assess CA and determine if we were the right choice for them.   

In the end, we all know there is nothing like walking on campus and seeing the good work that makes up each day at CA. Spring break offered a unique opportunity for us this year; with the faculty and students off campus, we were able to invite our admitted students to visit in-person. More than 300 people came through in eight different sessions. A campus scavenger hunt highlighted student work and our state-of-art facilities in a socially-distanced way and staff members were on hand to offer navigation guidance and to speak to their own experiences as a member of our learning community.     

All these efforts, combined with another year of chart-topping retention, have once again placed CA in a position of strong enrollment as we look toward the 2021-22 school year.   

Undeniably, it would have been impossible for the admissions team to do all this alone. Our sincere gratitude goes out to all the parent and student ambassadors who offered tours and answered questions. You provided invaluable connection and insights. To the staff who helped facilitate events and the teachers, who offered more than 50 mission-focused prospective student classes during free periods, our thanks to you as well.  

Although the process looked very different this year, we have a tremendous group of new Chargers ready to join us in August and take advantage of all CA has to offer.     

Written by Heather Clarkson, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid

CA Curious

Supporting Our Students in Times of Crisis

Events

Pi Day provides infinite delight

Athletics

Chargers close out a fantastic spring season

Cary Academy opening ceremony

CA Curious

Prepared for unprecedented times

May 28, 2020

Image: Cary Academy has been preparing for unprecedented times since it’s opening in 1996.

My first role at Cary Academy was as a member of the US English Department. As I have grown as an educator here, and journeyed into other roles, there is one challenge that haunts me in times of stress: finding the right words.  Somewhat ironic for an English teacher, I know.   

Chargers spend a great deal of time in their ELA and English classes discussing an author’s word choice – their diction in a piece. From daily greetings to webinar titles, “unprecedented” seems to be one used quite a bit these days. (I would offer an appropriate synonym; however, “novel” is the most recommended, and that too, gets frequent press these days.)  

In my newest role as Director of Admissions, I am asked regularly how Cary Academy is preparing to open the 2020-21 school year, knowing that learning will continue to “look different.” Will we “be ready” by mid-August?  

Our strong academic program is often the first focus for prospective students and families considering CA, and there are many questions about the ability of an institution to deliver the same caliber of learning when a teacher isn’t physically present with one’s students.   

I admit that the first time I was asked this question, there was a spark of stress.  Mostly because I could not fathom how to abridge the incredible work I have seen occur over these past months into a single soundbite. So, I took a moment to choose my words.   

We are consistent.   

con·​sis·​tent | \ kən-ˈsi-stənt  \ 
1a: marked by harmony, regularity, or steady continuity: free from variation or contradiction (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/consistent

Cary Academy is consistent in its mission.  

Since the founding of the school in 1996, the words learning community, discovery, innovation, collaboration, and excellence have been the threads woven to create a rich tapestry of educational experiences. A true testament to our founders’ vision for 21st century learning, this one sentence has survived since the days of techo-dinos: the desktop computers. It sets us apart, and we are known for our incredible academics founded on this mission.  

Cary Academy is consistent in its student-centered, reflective practice.  

The heartbeat of Charger Nation is the Chargers themselves. As Cary Academy educators, we continue to reflect upon best practices for our students. We do not rest upon our laurels, rather use success as a springboard into our next wonderings on how to improve.  

Cary Academy is consistent in its focus on professional development of its employees.  

Recognizing that faculty and staff drawn to our mission must be life-long learners, our School’s emphasis on professional learning is unparalleled.  This could not be more evident than in the work our faculty will embark upon this summer, as they take three weeks (from their vacation) to best prepare for the various formats that our schooling will take next year.    

Consistency is an attribute, no doubt.  Yet as the parable of the oak tree and the reed demonstrates, consistency alone does not stand the test of time or the storms it brings. We must be able to bend when needed.  Thus, my second word.  

We are flexible.   

flex·​i·​ble | \ ˈflek-sə-bəl  \ 
3: characterized by a ready capability to adapt to new, different, or changing requirements (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flexible

In a time when all schools must be flexibile, Cary Academy has a track record of innovation and adaptation in pedagogy, curriculum, and programs.  While others were forced to this characteristic just months ago, our Mission has mandated it for more than 20 years. 

We have a long record of flexibility in our practices.   

Mr. Follet’s recent email on the Upper School shift to semesters resonated with me. Eight years ago (in the role as Head of Upper School), I posted a similar letter informing parents and students that we would no longer hold an exam week.  

In both cases, our student-centered, data-driven decisions took into consideration best practices and student wellness. In the years between these two epistles, both divisions have shifted schedules, adapted assessment practices and opened entire departments (the Center for Community Engagement). As appropriate, we have embraced blended, online, synchronous and asynchronous learning, to name just a few.   

We maintain flexible rigor.   

Even before our strategic goal of relevant, personalized, and flexible learning opportunities was published, our academic departments have proposed bold shifts in our curricular offerings.  

The recent curricular review cycle resulted in a menu of course offerings that respond to student interest and aptitude – elective offerings science, English, world language and PE reflect this work. Our unique world history elective program for 9th and 10th graders predated these changes, and our arts department have been embracing the myriad opportunities of aesthetic, design and ensemble instruction since the start of the school. With 46 advanced classes, 20+ levels of math instruction from grades 6-12, and countless electives, students are authentically engaged where they are on their path of learning.  

But students are not just scholars. They are citizens, friends, individuals whose social and emotional growth is equally important.  

We flex to the immediate needs of our students wellness.   

In my many years serving as an Upper School advisor, faculty leaders have spearheaded timely curriculum renewal of our affective education program.  From Charger Trails in the Middle School to social media literacy curriculum in the Upper School advisory program, we are constantly molding our program to meet our students’ needs and to address the challenges they face as young people.   

A leader in diversity and inclusion work, Cary Academy is one of the first schools in the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) to launch an affinity group program. And our work with Essential Partners on Dialogue Across Differences underscores even more our commitment to each student being seen, heard, and known for who they are.   

And this list isn’t even exhaustive of how education “looks different” at Cary Academy.   

So, when I now get the question focusing on this fall, I offer this: 

Since the opening of the school, Cary Academy has embraced the opportunities of being both consistent and flexible in our program. We have been preparing for the past 24 years for a challenging opportunity such as the one facing us in these unprecedented times. We’ll continue to lean into our mission, our strengths, just as we always have. 

Yes, we’ve got thisWe will be ready 

Written by Heather Clarkson, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid

CA Curious

Charting new wellbeing territory via virtual counseling

Science

Science Olympiad starts the season off right.

Magazine of CA

Equity Matters

TISC Meeting

Events

Cary Academy hosts TISC meeting on enrollment trends

November 22, 2019

This morning, Cary Academy hosts the Triangle Independent School Consortium, bringing together Heads of School and Admissions Officers from 18 schools in the Triangle to discuss trends in enrollment management.  International presenter and content specialist Geordie Mitchell, Director of Enrollment Management and Strategic Initiatives at Buckingham Browne and Nichols School, presented.

Written by

Magazine of CA

Beyond Numbers

Athletics

Senior Nights: Varsity Girls’ Lacrosse

Magazine of CA

Personal Best

CA Students sitting on the Quad

CA Curious

Great Tour Guides Don’t Walk Backward Anymore

October 3, 2019

I wasn’t destined to be a tour guide.  For both my independent high school and undergrad college communities, I lacked the prerequisite skill of walking backward while talking.  I always envied those who could, as meeting new people and talking about my school were both activities I enjoyed.  Perhaps that is why I started my career in the classroom – teachers walk around the classroom, but hardly ever backward, and sometimes we get to stand still!

Of course, the world of admissions has taken on an entirely new landscape – one in which the skill of building connections and introducing possibilities has become the new preferred method of traversing campus.  We walk alongside our prospective families hearing their hopes and dreams for their student while sharing experiences, insights and vision of our learning communities. I expect that this was your own experience when you first visited CA, where a parent or student ambassador lead your tour of campus.

Along with tours, the decision-making process for families has evolved quite a bit as well.  My high school was selected by my parents, as I was a third-generation legacy student.  More and more, parents and students are truly comparative consumers – seeking the school that will match their unique combination of academic and extracurricular interests, wellbeing priorities, and future aspirations.

This shift in school selection philosophy has been the subject of research at the college and university level as well.  It’s even been named: Prospective Student Decision Theory.  In short, students determine the school they want to attend through four critical experiences: the interaction with the first person they meet on campus, their assessment of the variety of academic and extracurricular activities available; their ability to “see themselves” in the community; and how regularly they think about the school after visiting.   

In other words, we’re definitely not walking backward anymore! 

Seeking to offer prospective students and their families with an experience on our campus that offers this type of engagement, we’re launching our first immersive open house: Experience CA Day. 

On Saturday, November 2, from nine to eleven in the morning, our campus will be open for visitors to classrooms, see student projects, and engage with teachers.  There will be ongoing performances in Berger Hall, affinity group discussions in the dining hall, and practices in the maker spaces.  Think robots shooting hoops, slideshows highlighting trips, and all the organic, deeply meaningful conversations that happen along the way. 

There will also be food trucks and swag scavenger hunts – after all, this is a CA event! 

It’s certain to be a phenomenal celebration, where guests can choose the areas they would like to focus on while CA students, staff and PTAA share all that learning community has to offer.  

Our thanks goes out in advance to all community members who will be sharing their time and talents in support of this event. These are the forward-moving ambassadors who are taking CA into the future.

Where we need the most help is sharing the invitation! Please encourage family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, or any others you know who may be interested in CA to attend, and please like the FB event!

Information and registration is available on our Admissions Events page.

Written by Heather Clarkson, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid

Faculty Reflections

Teaching with tech

CA Curious

The lessons learned by living through history

Magazine of CA

Window to the World

Lex-Jordan Ibegbu (‘08) Alumni

Alumni Spotlight

College Chronicles: Lex-Jordan Ibegbu (‘08) University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill & University Of Miami Law School

August 16, 2019

Vision, ambition, and will

Lex-Jordan Ibegbu transferred into CA from public school his freshman year.
“College choice is all about what you are exposed to,” Ibegbu explains. “Prior to CA, I didn’t really know what college I wanted to go to. I had always assumed I’d go to Shaw University. My parents attended Shaw University. I grew up across the street.”

Over the course of his four years at CA, however, his horizons broadened, with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill rising to near-mythical status in his mind.

“I had never been to Chapel Hill. I didn’t know anyone that attended Carolina” says Ibegbu. “But, CA was sending a lot of students to Carolina. I researched and discovered the kind of professionals that Carolina was producing. I wanted to be an attorney and I knew that Carolina had a strong political science department. I also knew that the Carolina name would open doors for me later in my career. Going there became one of my prayers.”

The transition to CA had been an academic adjustment, but one that he was able to manage after a year. Still, some thought Carolina might be a reach for Ibegbu. He credits his mother and college counselor Laura Sellers for believing in him enough to encourage him to pursue his dream and apply.

“Ms. Sellers was such a blessing. She told me exactly what I needed to do to make it happen. I took the SAT twice to attain a sufficient score” Ibegbu recalls. “I only needed to see the blueprint. Once I learned the process I could then apply it. I believed in myself. I believed in my spirit that I would go to Carolina.”
With clear goals, guideposts, and a healthy boost of confidence, Ibegbu threw himself into the application process, while also pursuing scholarship options. His clear-eyed tenacity was rewarded, and he was admitted to Carolina on a full scholarship as a Covenant Scholar.

As an African American student in a then-predominantly white CA community, the promise of Carolina’s diverse student body had also been a tremendous lure to Ibegbu. On campus, he took full advantage, immersing himself into academic, social, and extracurricular experiences through which he weaved a broad social network that would pay dividends throughout his college career and beyond.

His eyes set on law school, Ibegbu pursued a degree in political science. He also continued the student government work he’d enjoyed at CA and was elected as a student body congressman. It was an experience that afforded the opportunity to collaborate with an ever-widening circle of students, while also providing practical experience that he could leverage for law school.

He pursued his other passions—music and drama—via dual minors. A rapper, Ibegbu used his music as a networking tool, performing for various student groups across campus and always making connections along the way.

“I credit Carolina with teaching me how to maneuver in different environments,” offers Ibegbu. “Every week I tried to connect with people from different insular communities throughout the campus. That might have been going to plays with my drama friends, or performing at events hosted by Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity (a Latino fraternity), or working on legislation with members of the Muslim Student Association, or seeking out mentor opportunities within Carolina’s vast alumni network. I was always consciously trying to broaden my horizons, to build that social capital.”

Ibegbu graduated from Carolina in 2012 and was admitted to the University of Miami School of Law, from which he graduated in 2015. He is now a practicing attorney in both Florida and North Carolina with the law office of Kurtz & Blum, PLLC. He currently has a focus in criminal law, with an eye for music/entertainment issues, and engages in political consultant work for various candidates and politicians.

“As for the future, I am always seeking growth and knowledge. I want to become an immense legal mind, perhaps start my own practice that spans the eastern seaboard. I hope to exercise some influence over this country’s politics and economic policies.”

As always, Ibegbu is making a plan and charting a course for success: “I am setting the foundation for my dreams and working towards creating a lasting legacy.”

Written by Mandy Dailey, Director of Communications

CA Curious

Reflections on AsEA

Community

Sandra Gutierrez opens her kitchen – and her heart – to hungry viewers

CA Curious

Welcome to the 25th Anniversary Year at Cary Academy!

Andy Walsh (’09)

Alumni Spotlight

College Chronicles: Andy Walsh (’09) North Carolina State University & University Of North Carolina Law School

August 10, 2019

Something to Prove

By his junior year at CA, Andy Walsh was grappling with his future.

An accomplished hockey player, he toyed with the idea of taking a gap year to play competitively. He credits college counselor Laura Sellers, his fellow students, and a newfound passion for political science and law—courtesy of RJ Pellicciotta’s advanced United States government class—with helping to set him on the college track.

“CA helped push me to focus on my educational outcomes and to think broader,” explains Walsh. “My friends were all getting into college and I got to a place where I wanted that for myself, I wanted to be part of a great college experience.”

And what did his ideal experience look like? He knew that he wanted to look at local cost-effective options—those that offered a big school experience, flexible curricula, a strong athletics culture, and competitive sports teams. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University were obvious choices.

Walsh got into State early action, but Carolina rejected him. “Not even the waitlist,” he laughs. “Initially, it was a little hard to take, but, truthfully, that rejection was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It made me even more appreciative of the opportunity at State, and it also gave me a little bit of a chip on my shoulder. I wanted to prove that

Carolina missed out by not admitting me.”

Right then and there, Walsh made three goals that would define his undergraduate college experience: to participate in clubs, get academic honors, and get into law school.

On campus, Walsh declared a political science major and immediately joined the club hockey team, a familiar experience that had the added benefit of providing an instant friend group. Wanting to get involved in something that would help with law school admission, he opted for student government, winning his first senate seat his freshman year. It would be the beginning of a student government career that would span all four years and include three senate seats, an appointment to the executive branch, and, ultimately, election as student body president his senior year.

Still, the transition from CA’s small community to the enormous 35,000+ student population was daunting in those early semesters; it didn’t always feel like the right choice. After considering a transfer, he decided instead to “double-down” on what it was that he liked most about State: the traditions of  the university.

“My parents never went to a four-year college, so growing up I didn’t have that immediate allegiance to a school that a lot of other kids did,” he explains. “I always thought that connection, that sense of pride was cool. I wanted to help cultivate those feelings for students that, like me, didn’t have them walking in the door.”

Over the next few years, Walsh oversaw a variety of traditions-driven projects, including getting a living mascot for the athletics department; overseeing the “Coaches’ Corner” project that unveiled statues of retired basketball coaches, including Jim Valvano and Kay Yow; and creating “the brick,” a living scrapbook/guide to State’s traditions that is given to every incoming freshman as an invitation to engage.

On graduating Phi Beta Kappa with honors in 2013, Walsh focused on acquiring work experience in preparation for law school. He interned first at SAS, in the Government Relations Department, before transferring into a full-time position at Smith Anderson, one of the largest firms in North Carolina. His mentors at Smith Anderson encouraged his application to law school and in 2016 he was admitted to the University of North Carolina’s School of Law.

Walsh graduated UNC’s School of Law in 2019 and is currently studying for the bar. He looks forward to stepping into his new role in the Charlotte, NC office of the international law firm Cadwalader where he’ll be working on fund finance and corporate law.

His reflection on ultimately being both a member of the Wolfpack and a Tar Heel? “I think State and Carolina do a really good job of identifying the right people for their campuses. I’m so grateful for that,” Walsh reflects.

“Having been there for grad school, I can say with certainty it would not have been a good fit for me as an undergrad. At State, I had just what I needed and every opportunity to prove myself. If you work hard, there are amazing opportunities that will open to you.”considering a transfer, he decided instead to “double-down” on what it was that he liked most about State: the traditions of the university. “My parents never went to a four-year college, so growing up I didn’t have that immediate allegiance to a school that a lot of other kids did,” he explains. “I always thought that connection, that sense of pride was cool. I wanted to help cultivate those feelings for students that, like me, didn’t have them walking in the door.” Over the next few years, Walsh oversaw a variety of traditions-driven projects, including getting a living mascot for the athletics department; overseeing the “Coaches’ Corner” project that unveiled statues of retired basketball coaches, including Jim Valvano and Kay Yow; and creating “the brick,” a living scrapbook/guide to State’s traditions that is given to every incoming freshman as an invitation to engage. On graduating Phi Beta Kappa with honors in 2013, Walsh focused on acquiring work experience in preparation for law school. He interned first at SAS, in the Government Relations Department, before transferring into a full-time position at Smith Anderson, one of the largest firms in North Carolina. His mentors at Smith Anderson encouraged his application to law school and in 2016 he was admitted to the University of North Carolina’s School of Law. Walsh graduated UNC’s School of Law in 2019 and is currently studying for the bar. He looks forward to stepping into his new role in the Charlotte, NC office of the international law firm Cadwalader where he’ll be working on fund finance and corporate law. His reflection on ultimately being both a member of the Wolfpack and a Tar Heel? “I think State and Carolina do a really good job of identifying the right people for their campuses. I’m so grateful for that,” Walsh reflects. “Having been there for grad school, I can say with certainty it would not have been a good fit for me as an undergrad. At State, I had just what I needed and every opportunity to prove myself. If you work hard, there are amazing opportunities that will open to you.”

Written by Dan Smith, Digital Content Producer and Social Media Manager

Community

Holiday Shoppe springs forward to 2022

Alumni News

Creating Simple, Low-Cost Ventilator Solutions in Sydney

Middle School

Parents explore the student experience during Community Flex Day

Ritu Prasad (’10)

Alumni Spotlight

College Chronicles: Ritu Prasad (’10) : University Of Chicago Northwestern University, Medill School Of Journalism

August 10, 2019

Following her heart

The importance of college was always at the forefront of Ritu Prasad’s CA experience.

“My parents immigrated to the United States from India when I was child,” Prasad explains. “It had always been important to them that I attend an American college—it was one of the big reasons they decided to leave. They wanted me to have the best opportunities, and the Indian education system was a lot less choice-based, a lot less flexible.”

Themselves unfamiliar with the American college system and application process, Prasad and her family appreciated the strong support system offered by Laura Sellers, Prasad’s college counselor.

“As newcomers, it was easy to freak out about all the details, the wealth of information to sort through—the SATs, the applications, the deadlines, the overwhelming choices. Ms. Sellers was always the voice of calm and reason, helping to set out the facts and requirements and providing important guidance.”

Working with the college counselors, Prasad made a list of what attributes she most desired for prospective colleges. “Throughout my time at CA, I had the opportunity to build great relationships with my teachers. I’m still friends with some of them today; Vic Quesada, Donna Eason, and Dr. Robert Coven changed my life!” gushes Prasad. “For college, I wanted small classes that offered similar opportunities to form those deep relationships and to grow and develop alongside my teachers.”

A lover of both science and English, she also wanted a college that prided itself on the well-roundedness of its students—one that offered a strong interdisciplinary curriculum and the flexibility to explore multiple disciplines simultaneously. An exceptional study abroad program rounded out her list.
She created her initial college prospect list—adding in the University of Chicago on the advice of alum Brent Rappaport (’10)—and culled it by taking full advantage of CA-hosted visits from a variety of college admissions officers. “Those visits with the admissions counselors from all those different schools that CA offered was really useful and played a role in shaping my decisions” notes Prasad.

One such meeting with a Columbia University admissions counselor made it clear that Columbia was not a good fit, while others affirmed her interest in Northwestern and the University of Chicago. A later campus tour of the University of Chicago would prove that it was the school for her. Excited, she applied early decision and was accepted.

Both of Prasad’s parents are physicians and following in their footsteps had been an early goal that she set for herself. During her first couple of years, she pursued her tandem interests, taking pre-med classes while also majoring in English. A study abroad to Paris to explore astrophysics would be a highlight of her undergraduate years.

In her senior year—just one credit away from securing a double major in biology, while signing up to take the MCAT—it hit her: she didn’t want to be a doctor. “I had been warring with my two passions, science and writing, for my entire undergraduate career. I suddenly realized that my true love was writing.”

Just like that, she changed gears, graduating with a degree in English and a minor in biology. “It was jarring,” Prasad admits. “I’d had a ten-year plan for years, but, suddenly, I didn’t know what would come next.”
Soon after graduation, after a less-than-gratifying internship and foray into communications work, Prasad began to investigate graduate schools. She was accepted to Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism after a last-minute application and awarded an academic scholarship.

She completed her master’s degree in journalism in 2016. A journalism residency with the BBC in London would prove life-changing, leading to her current full-time position with the BBC’s North American bureau in Washington, DC. There, she’s living her dream as a multimedia journalist covering features and general news: “It’s work that I believe in, work that means something.”

Written by Mandy Dailey, Director of Communications

CA Curious

Technology and Neurodiversity

CA Curious

Welcome to our visiting accreditation team

Magazine of CA

Democratizing Debate

Ben Hatfield (‘14)

Alumni Spotlight

College Chronicles: Ben Hatfield (‘14): United States Air Force Academy

August 10, 2019

Lifelong dreamer

When Ben Hatfield was a toddler, his parents took him to an air show at Andrews Air Force base. He immediately loved seeing all the planes flying in the air and his love of all things aeronautic was locked in.

When it came time to consider college, the path to his dream of being a pilot and soaring the skies was stronger than ever. It was no surprise that he set his aim on a United States service academy, with the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) being top choice.

Acceptance into a U.S. service academy is decidedly different from the typical collegiate process. In addition to an application to the academy, candidates must receive a nomination from their U.S. Senator or Congressman. It’s a complex process, involving many moving parts and copious amounts of essay-writing. Hatfield credits his college counselor, Leya Jones, with helping him navigate the process and keeping him sane and organized.

Hatfield began his Air Force journey in the summer of 2014. By his own account, his first year was arduous mentally, physically, and emotionally. USAFA places a heavy value on well-roundedness, and his first-year curriculum was a heavy lift of liberal arts coursework in tandem with Air Force-specific classes like aeronautical and astronautical engineering and leadership.

Despite the challenges, Hatfield found himself academically well-prepared, his experience harkening back to the classrooms of CA. “I found myself emailing my CA teachers—even my seventh-grade teachers—to tell them how my experience in their class was still playing such a big role in my life,” laughs Hatfield.

Ben Hatfield (‘14)

And, bolstered by confidence from his CA experiences, he was able to find what some might consider a daunting campus culture and ethos, inspiring.

Opportunities within USAFA—what courses you are eligible to take, what clubs you can participate in, what planes you get to fly, and, ultimately, your placement post-Academy—are all driven by class rank, which is distributed publicly every semester.

“While the environment is extremely competitive, everyone also knows that there is no way to make it through alone,” explains Hatfield. “You have to have people to lean on, to help you. The result is a unique environment where everyone is driven, constantly pushing themselves to be better, but also helping each other and pushing each other to be better.”

It was in his sophomore year—when cadets declare their majors (he chose Operations Research/Statistics), join clubs, and have more control over their coursework—that Hatfield truly began to hit his stride. He joined the United States Air Force Skydiving Team, “The Wings of Blue.” It was an intensive, but gratifying experience (requiring up to three-hours of practice time each day) that would ultimately take him all over the country and the world to perform in air shows to demonstrate the Air Force’s capabilities. On campus, it meant that, at nineteen-years-old, he was also responsible for teaching first-year cadets how to do their very first solo jumps out of planes. He credits that experience of “helping other cadets get over their fear” as one of the highlights of his time at USAFA.

Another highlight? A senior capstone project in which he investigated the resiliency of U.S. satellite networks and how the United States might be able to respond to various threats. He presented his research at a conference to professional Air Force statisticians, who were able to leverage his research and take it to the next level in the field.

Hatfield graduated USAFA in May 2018 and is now living his dream, training alongside officers from all over the world in the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas.

Written by Mandy Dailey, Director of Communications

Community

Holiday Shoppe springs forward to 2022

Alumni News

Introducing the Spector Family Fund

Community

Senior’s passion for literacy, community, earns Gold Award

Ziyana Greene (’18)

Alumni Spotlight

College Chronicles: Ziyana Greene (’18): Agnes Scott College

August 10, 2019

A New Perspective

Ziyana Greene knew what she wanted for college: a small private school with resources on par with a larger university and a diverse student community. She’d always assumed that she’d find that experience at a historically black college or university (HBCU). It was a shock, then, when touring, she found that “despite being great schools, they just didn’t feel right. They didn’t click for me.”

Sensing her mounting frustration, college counselor Brandon Carter suggested she check out a school she’d never heard of—Agnes Scott College—a small liberal arts college for women in Atlanta, Georgia. While not an HBCU, it did tick a lot of her boxes. She booked a last-minute trip, a final stop on her college tour before heading home.

On arriving, her first contact was a student tour guide from the Republic of The Gambia who’d never been to the United States before attending Agnes Scott. “She’d applied from abroad and her very first experience in the United States was her move-in day,” marvels Greene.

“She was so courageous. It made me feel brave and made me recognize my privilege. To that point, I had these ideas of what diversity was, what it would look like, but Agnes Scott gave me a whole new lens. It has a huge international population and I was excited to hear all those different stories and perspective. I knew that this was where I wanted to be.”

Greene—who is pre-law, majoring in political science, minoring in human rights, and pursuing a specialization in leadership development—has made the most of her first-year college experience. Highlights have included a study abroad in Ghana to research women in leadership; working in the admissions office where she enjoys interacting with the diverse community and has developed close mentorship relationships with senior faculty; induction in the Leadership Society; and her successful campaign and election as Public Relations Coordinator for the Pre-Law Society.

Greene credits Agnes Scott and, more broadly, the women’s college experience as giving her a newfound sense of empowerment and confidence. “It is inspiring to see other women supporting each other and really going after what they want, letting no one stop them. At Agnes, we don’t have to compete. Each woman’s accomplishments are seen not just as hers, but as opening doors for everyone.” She adds, “Don’t get me wrong, competition is important in the professional world and we learn how to compete. But, when you know your worth, you can compete in the world a lot differently and more successfully.”

Written by Mandy Dailey, Director of Communications

Alumni News

Congratulations, Class of 2021!

Athletics

Charger athlete a smash at national table tennis championships

CA Curious

A fond ‘farewell’ from the Middle School