|Year of Entry: 1998
||Age at Entry: 16
||Hometown: Lawrenceville, New Jersey
Time for a Change
Growing up in New Jersey, I never thought I would move south. I had received mailings from the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted (PEG) at Mary Baldwin for a few years, but I was happy at home with my family. However, as the second year of high school began, it became clear that the school could not meet my needs, especially my most fervent passion — philosophy. When the PEG mailing arrived during my sophomore year of high school, I knew it was time to make a change.
My parents and I visited the campus that year, and I spent the night in the dorm with the girls who would become some of my closest friends. The flow and level of connection I experienced that evening cemented my resolve: I would attend this program, pursue my passions, and build relationships with peers and faculty.
I greeted the first fall with some trepidation. I was leaving the security of home and would live with strangers for the first time. However, when we arrived, I settled in quickly. The girls I had met during my visit were welcoming, and my roommate and I bonded quickly, spending several nearly sleepless nights sharing our entire life stories and aspirations in hours of exuberant conversation.
Classes were equally stimulating. I felt energized by my professors, readings, and work. The environment felt so much more responsive, and I truly felt myself come alive in ways I had not known possible. I felt supported, but I also felt myself becoming more confident and self-reliant — I was growing. Everything I learned made me want to learn more: I considered majoring in almost every subject I sampled, as did the other PEGs. As we all specialized, we followed all of these paths vicariously through each other’s studies and our discussions took on a new complexity.
After my first year, my roommate and I moved out into the regular dorms. Some girls still got together for study groups, especially for more challenging classes, and academic and esoteric topics of conversation were just as common as the social and emotional. Junior year, many of us coordinated to live together in Hawpe House, and we grew closer while our individual paths also became more clearly defined. To this day, the relationships forged in PEG remain my closest friendships although we are geographically spread throughout most of the western hemisphere.
While at Mary Baldwin, I majored in philosophy and religion advised by Dr. Edward Scott. I graduated in 2002 with distinction in my major for my thesis advised by Dr. Jim Gilman. At the time, I intended to go on to a graduate program in philosophy, but I wanted to work for two years to gain life experience. I remained in Staunton, still living with my roommate and took a job as a teaching assistant at the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind (VSDB), having had experience as a substitute at the School for the Deaf in New Jersey and being fluent in American Sign Language. After one year, I became a high school English teacher for the Deaf and returned to school, taking classes towards teacher licensure in the evenings.
Licensed after three years, I continued to work at VSDB, but without the demands of extra coursework, I began to look towards other educational opportunities. Since my experience in PEG, I had become interested in gifted education, and when I took the role of chair for the school’s burgeoning program for gifted and high-achieving Deaf and visually impaired students, I decided to pursue the Masters of Educational Psychology with an Emphasis in Gifted Education through the University of North Texas’s online program. My interest lies in academic, social, affective, and family issues of gifted individuals, and my current goal is to become a counselor for the gifted and advisor to programs which serve them. Yet, in my life I have learned that one never knows what the future may hold and one must always be ready to embrace opportunity as it arises, unforeseen.