Reflections and Advice:
1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
One of the most unique aspects of Berkshire is the strong sense of community, which forms in a natural manner from year to year. Both faculty and peers provide a sturdy support system that enables students to step outside of their comfort zone and take risks. The school’s motto, “Learning, not only for school, but for life” is highlighted during Pro Vita, an annual, week-long deviation from the normal academic schedule that allows students to take courses ranging from the history of cults in America, to kinesiology, to digital music. Through engaging in such unconventional courses, students are given the opportunity to participate in a variety of disciplines and may discover new passions, as I did by enrolling in “Swedish Culture” my freshman year. The establishment of a safety net in an already warm and inspiring environment proves to be one of the most successful aspects of the school, as each student is likely to emerge from the experience with varied interests, broader perspective, and a far greater sense of self as a result.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
My proudest moment at Berkshire was winning a sixth-form citizenship award during my final Prize Night, on the eve of my graduation. Having won the third-form version of that same award my freshman year, I felt nostalgic as I crossed the stage to receive the plaque. I also realized in that moment how much I had grown between the two occasions. I entered Berkshire as a rather timid fourteen-year-old with an eagerness to learn, but I lacked the tools needed to be fully confident in my abilities. I graduated from Berkshire having a much stronger sense of myself and my morals. My confidence to take on the challenges of college and beyond, with a well-developed sense of social grace, maturity, perseverance, and academic enthusiasm, was inspired primarily by my peers and teachers. My advisor, who became like family to me, served as a major component of my growth over my first years away from home. Similar to every other faculty member at Berkshire, my advisor was skilled at giving students an empowering gift of responsibility, effectively motivating us to use our support system and other outlets to push through difficult and stressful times to become stronger, more experienced individuals.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
Since there are so many different paths a student can follow at Berkshire – it would take much more than four years to pursue every one – it is inevitable that one will have some regrets at the end of his or her career. More than anything else, I wish I had given dance a try sooner. I found myself surrounded by very interesting and eclectic people once I finally delved into the arts. I recommend that any students new to Berkshire take advantage of its expanding arts program or any other programs of which they have had little exposure. By taking a class like Swedish Culture during Pro Vita, I put my regular interests aside and found myself deeply engaged in learning about a culture that was previously completely foreign to me.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
Berkshire gives students the opportunity to broaden their horizons, even if it means making a few mistakes along the way. The faculty members were incredible mentors to me when I was facing both prosperous and challenging moments at boarding school. The ability of the Berkshire community to form such a flourishing safety net facilitates an unrivaled opportunity for intellectual and personal development. Berkshire provided me with the tools to take risks and allow myself to explore the unknown. As a result, I made tremendous leaps towards becoming the type of student and individual I had always hoped to be. I also gained the skills that will help me work towards a successful career during and after college. Without Berkshire’s community – my and my teachers – such progress would not have been possible.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
For any student entering a new school, it is also important to be genuine and open to new experiences. The best advice I could give to an incoming student, besides getting involved and trying new things, is to get to know your teachers during your time at Berkshire. They have refreshing perspectives that can open you up to new ideas and completely shift your mindset. If you spend time getting to know them, they could be some of the most inspirational adults in your life.