We’re already almost two months into school, and things around KO are beginning to settle down. Once again, we’ve gotten used to waking up early, seeing our friends around campus, and staying busy with homework. Even though we’ve all been quite occupied these past couple of months with assignments, sports, and other extracurriculars, you may have noticed something missing from the KO community: the class of 2021.
It seems like just yesterday we sent them off with well wishes during Commencement, and yet the class of 2021 is already out in the world doing amazing things. While they have all been working hard and staying busy since leaving KO, let’s take a moment to catch up with three students who have had particularly unique experiences these past few months.
Across the Atlantic, Niki Taylor ’21 is attending the University of Edinburgh, back in the states Sydney Smith ’21 is killing it on the volleyball court at Wesleyan University, and Henry Krieble ’21 is participating in The Fund for American Studies Program during a gap year.
Despite the six hour time difference, it was great catching up with Niki, who is completing a joint honors degree in philosophy and politics. She mentioned one of the biggest differences between university in Europe and college here is that she isn’t required to take any general education classes. Niki is currently taking Morality & Value, a philosophy course, Politics and International Relations, and an optional course in Topics in Popular Music.
Niki braved a greater distance than many of her classmates for college, but she happily retold the story of how she initially heard about the University of Edinburgh on social media. “I actually got an ad for it on my Instagram,” Niki said, “and before that, I hadn’t even thought about applying to international schools, but then I clicked on the ad and looked at pictures of the school and the city and decided I really wanted to be over here.”
Despite the great distance, Niki quickly settled into life in Scotland. Student life, she explained, was a big factor in adjusting to a totally new environment. “We have a huge student association that organizes societies, clubs and promotes events,” she said. “The societies run different events throughout the week that allow you to meet new people and also talk about the things you’re interested in and passionate about.”
As someone with a great appreciation for rain, Niki said her favorite memory in Scotland so far was the first day it rained. “About a week and a half into being here, I finally woke up to a downpour,” she said. “I had plans to meet up with friends that day, and everyone was super happy to just sit in a cafe and watch the rain. It was probably the first time I felt really content and comfortable being here.”
Back in the US, Sydney has been a dominant presence on the volleyball court for Wesleyan’s varsity volleyball program. Sydney has left her mark on the court, bringing impressive all around skill and an average .235 hitting percentage to Wesleyan’s program.
The life of a student athlete was nothing new to Sydney who was a tri-varsity athlete during her time at KO. Juggling academics and athletics can be a challenge, but Sydney acknowledged the strong support system of her coaches, staff, and teammates at Wesleyan who have helped make things more manageable. “[Head Coach] Ben Somera and [Assistant Coach] Hannah Stinson are very hands-on,” she said. “They’re always willing to help out if needed, and they really look out for us as players and make sure we have everything we need to be successful.”
Wesleyan boasts an impressive 14-2 record this season, an accomplishment made possible by the hard work of Sydney and her teammates. Some of the team’s most successful matches went to five sets against rivals within the league, such as Middlebury College and Tufts University.
Despite the many wins, the team has also suffered two losses to Amherst College and Bowdoin College. Sydney feels these experiences have been vital to the team’s development, as well as to her own progress as an athlete. “These matches have taught us that we need to have discipline and integrity when we play,” she said. “We have to make sure that we play for one another and hold each other accountable when we’re not.”
When she’s not on the court, Sydney still finds time to pursue her hobbies. Having been a talented artist during her time at KO, Sydney still finds time to flex her artistics muscles at Wesleyan. “Right now, I’m taking an architecture class, which is in the studio art department,” she said. “It’s a big challenge for me as the critiques are super challenging, but I feel as though I’m learning a lot.” She also mentioned that she draws almost every night as a way to relax after a busy day.
A couple hundred miles south, another KO alum has been busy with new and exciting experiences. Henry is currently living in Washington D.C. and participating in The Fund for American Studies. Through this program, Henry is taking three courses at George Mason University and getting a unique internship opportunity with a prominent think tank in the city.
Unlike his peers who attend classes for most of the day, a typical day for Henry looks like working from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and attending events organized by the program. These can include seminars led by congressmen or foreign service agents, embassy tours, or even CIA briefings.
When describing what a day in his life looks like, Henry added that a new sense of independence has been one of the most valuable things he has taken from the experience. “It’s been amazing gaining so much independence in such a short period of time,” he said. “I have many more responsibilities, but I also have a lot more free time to explore the city and try new things.”
Although Henry misses KO, after attending the school for seven years, he is ready for the next chapter in his life. He remains in touch with friends from KO through social media and has been able to stay close with former classmates and close friends Eden Nenshati ’21and Ronan Dillow ’21 who are both attending school in Washington D.C.
While we miss seeing their friendly faces around campus, we are so excited to hear all about the great things these KO alums and others will accomplish in the future!