From Left: Gabe Bernstein, Peter Carpenter ’21 (Stanford), Cleo Smith ’19 (Sewanee), Andersen Dodge ’20 (CU Boulder), Avery Lin ’20 (St. John’s), Czarina Yuffa ’21 (Wesleyan), Rico Moncada ’21 (USC), Mackenzie Wagner ’21 (Colorado College), Henry Chesley-Vogels ’21 (Davidson), Ari Fierer ’19 (Denison), Cooper Kofron ’20 (Princeton), Cathy Nabbefeld

by Sonia Arora and Cathy Nabbefeld

When classes resumed at Colorado Academy in early January, Senior Class Dean Gabe Bernstein, along with the College Office, hosted an alumni panel for current Seniors, held in the Leach Center for the Performing Arts. In attendance were 10 CA alumni who provided a wealth of perspective.

Enormous thanks to this year’s panelists for sharing their time and wisdom! Mackenzie Wagner ’21, first-year at Colorado College; Andersen Dodge ’20, sophomore at University of Colorado Boulder in the Presidents Leadership Class and Leeds Honors Program; Cooper Kofron ’20, sophomore at Princeton University; Avery Lin ’20, first-year at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico after taking a gap year; Ari Fierer ’19, junior transfer to Denison University in Ohio; Cleo Smith ’19, junior at Sewanee, University of the South in Tennessee; Czarina Yuffa ’21, first-year at Wesleyan University in Connecticut; Peter Carpenter ’21, first-year at Stanford University; Rico Moncada ’21, first-year at the University of Southern California; and Henry Chesley-Vogels ’21, first-year at Davidson College in North Carolina. Below is a summary of the advice given.

With courage and openness, panelists shared their experiences navigating the challenges of Senior year, choosing a college, and adjusting to college. Here are a few memorable quotes:

“Prestige was the initial focus, but it’s important to realize how irrelevant that factor is. The intellectual ego boost gained from being admitted somewhere prestigious doesn’t matter one bit once you get there. What matters is whether you will be happy with the people and place.”

“Listen to your gut. You can make what you want out of any school.”

“It is your world, and you get to build it like you want!”

“Remember, even if you’ve been at CA from K-12 and are terrified, EVERYONE is in the same boat and trying to make friends. Greet people, say hello. It won’t seem weird; everyone is doing it.”

“Get as involved as possible; find others who share your interests (athletic, music, academic) and connections will happen. BUT, don’t close yourself off to one type of person. You go to college to meet different types of people; get the most out of your college experience by meeting people with different passions. Be open and try new things, perhaps a sport like rowing you’ve never done before—you’ll meet amazing people.”

“Be patient with yourself. Don’t expect an immediate tight friend group. Friendships take time to develop….You may have thought yourself extroverted at CA, but discover in college you’re introverted. Talk with adults/potential mentors on campus alongside peers.”

Remember, nearly everyone is getting rejected. Just because you’re hearing about the successes, know that nearly everyone experiences some sort of disappointment.”

“If you are straight out denied, it says absolutely nothing about who you are as a person or student or how hard you’ve worked. A college is spending ten minutes reading your essay, some recs, etc., but they don’t know you as a person. Rejection doesn’t mean you’re not worthy—it just means it wasn’t the place for you. You will be ok, and you will find a place where you’ll be really happy.”

“Make the most of Senior spring. Have fun and cherish the whole experience. Remember that you’re here at CA and devote yourself to the present. Take a class with your mom, take your little sister to lunch, go fishing with your dad. Those relationships set a great foundation for the following year.”

We applaud these young alumni and can’t wait to hear how their journey continues to unfold!

Thank you to Josh Estrada ’19, Mali Lopez ’20, and Rico Moncada ’21 who spoke with the FACES of Diversity Club.


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