Alumni reflect upon experiences after high school

The Newtonite

[media-credit name=”Gabe Dreyer” align=”alignleft” width=”300″]First Year Forum[/media-credit]

Rocco Donohue ’10 and Andre Donegan ’10 discuss their first year after graduating from this school, during a forum Monday, May 16 in the auditorium. Photo by: Gabe Dreyer

by Steven Michael

Members of the Class of 2010 spoke about their experiences after high school at the First Year Forum May 16.
The panel discussion featured eight alumni during F-block and E-block in the auditorium.  Guidance interns Alyce Lepkowski and Trevor Woodworth moderated the discussion and asked the panelists to reflect on how their time at this school has affected their life after graduation. Their questions varied from food and roommates to laundry and academics.
To conclude the discussion, students had the opportunity to ask the panelists their own questions.
Leah Cepko took a gap year to work at a school in Queens, New York. “It’s a very rare time you can take off a year,” she said. “Before college, you have the complete freedom and opportunity to do something different.”
As part of her gap year experience, Cepko shared an apartment in New York City. “As long as you set up rules and procedures, living with roommates really isn’t that bad. If you don’t like what you’re dealing with, don’t deal with it for the rest of this year.”
Cepko said that she made many new friends by “being friendly and outgoing with people every day.”
Although Cepko was “consumed by work,” she managed to keep in contact with two of her closest friends. However, she said that after high school, “Everybody goes on their own journey and takes their own path and that’s okay.”
Andre Donegan attends Penn State University and plans to major in psychology. During the first semester, he had a single dorm room. “Having a single, you have a lot of space to yourself,” he said.
“Even not having roommates, it was not hard to make friends because I’m the type of person who would talk to anybody. I was basically a social butterfly,” he said.
During the second semester, however, Donegan lived with a roommate. He advised that students “establish ground rules, so you never have problems with each other,” he said.
According to Donegan, the best aspect of college was “being able to grow up on your own and experience life.”
He added that there was no negative side about being out of high school.
However, because college classes only meet two or three times a week, Donegan said that it’s essential to prioritize your time. “Procrastination was kind of bad for me,” he said.
If he could do freshman year over again, Donegan said, “I would have focused more on the academic side of college. There are a lot of things you have to get used to.”
Rocco Donohue attends Boston University and plans to major in accounting and finance.
This year, Donohue lived in a triple. “It was a brand new experience living with other guys,” he said. “I think the most important thing we did as roommates was having good communication.”
Donohue also became friends with members of the swim and wrestling teams, who lived on his floor, he said.
He urged students to become involved in college to meet new people. Nonetheless, Donohue said, “You have to balance your social life and academics because you are going to college for your education.”
Because many of his friends also attend college in the Boston area, Donohue said it was possible to visit his friends frequently.
Brendan Hathaway also attends Boston University and plans to major in mechanical engineering.
“I still have no idea what I want to do with my life, but engineering seemed like a good place to start,” he said.
Although he lives off campus with his grandfather, Hathaway said he has become very involved, particularly with beekeeping. At the beginning of the school year, Hathaway attended a club showcase called Splash.
“That’s how I found out about the beekeeping club,” he said.
Naomi Genuth attends Harvard University, where she plans to major in cellular and molecular biology.
She lived in a suite with three other girls with a common room, and she said she recommends dividing the labor between roommates.
“You have to make sure that you’re doing lots of different types of work. It helps you mentally to get through it,” she said. This lifestyle also entails planning your schedule to ensure that you do not have all final exams or papers at the end of the semester, she said.
She suggested joining any interesting clubs at the beginning of the year.
Genuth said the workload “was a step up,” but she “felt well prepared from North.”
Olivia Glennon attends Cooper Union University, where she studies art.
She said as a freshman, she could not pick many of her classes, but after this year, she will have more flexibility to take classes such as casting and photography.
Hannah Jellinek took a postgraduate year at Phillips Exeter Academy.
At Exeter, she was interested in a European history class, which she did not initially think would be interesting. Now, Jellinek plans to study European history as well as the humanities, in general, she said.
Jellinek said she stayed in contact with many of her close friends from high school.
“If you want to stay in contact, you can stay in contact,” she said.