Arriving on Friday, the Hobart and William Smith Classes of 2015 will be one of the highest achieving incoming classes that the Colleges have welcomed in recent history. The first-year students have an average GPA of 3.5 and represent a larger multicultural class than their predecessors. As a whole, they are a group committed to serving their communities, taking advantage of opportunities for leadership and athletic competition and interested in pursuing multiple academic perspectives.
“It will be my pleasure to welcome our new Classes on Friday,” says President Mark D. Gearan, who along with Mary Herlihy Gearan will greet each student and his or her family during Orientation. “These students possess impressive intellectual abilities, come from far reaching places in our world, and have unique interests and goals. They will add much to our campus community.”
The Classes of 2015 total 690 students- one of the largest groups of first-years in the Colleges’ history. The increased number is especially impressive as 300 fewer students were accepted but more of those who were accepted chose to attend HWS. The Classes of 2015 are also distinguished by the high number who enrolled through the Early Decision process, making HWS their first and only choice.
This year, 17 percent of students in the first-year classes are multicultural. They come from 30 states and 13 countries including China, Ghana, Italy, Jordan and Norway.
Here is a sampling of some of the members of the Classes of 2015:
Among the students arriving this week is Sharafudin Mirzayee, from Kabul, Afghanistan. Speaking six languages, he studied at the Hotchkiss School, in Lakeville, Conn., for two years. At Hotchkiss, Mirzayee not only excelled academically while adjusting to a new culture, but also involved himself in soccer, tennis and ice hockey. He helped form a new club on campus committed to helping students-particularly young girls-in Afghanistan by sending school supplies. Last summer, he returned to Afghanistan where he continued volunteer work as a community crisis planner while spending time with his three siblings and mother.
Aislinn Raftis holds dual citizenship in Australia and the United States. In addition to living in her native Australia, Raftis has lived in France and, since 2007, in Tarrytown, N.Y., where she earned a number of awards and honors in high school, including the AP Scholar Award, the Marra Certificate of Achievement in AP French, the Gold Medal in the National Latin Examination, and the High Honor Roll. She was also invited to the Congressional Student Leadership Conference for three consecutive years. This spring, she was honored by her high school for the Random Acts of Kindness program. Raftis volunteers at a vacation bible school and at the Tarrytown Nursing Home. In recognition of her impressive academic career, HWS has named her a Trustee Scholar and a Richard H. Hersh Scholar, which includes a full-tuition scholarship.
Like Raftis, many members of the Classes of 2015 have been recognized in their high school or community for academics, service or both. For example, Michelle Clark, who graduated from Yarmouth High School in Maine, raised funds and awareness for Haiti earthquake relief. She was presented with a Mainely Character Scholarship for her integrity, responsibility, courage and concern for others. Of 100 applicants for the scholarship, only seven were interviewed and three awarded scholarships. Clark is interested in eventually working with a program such as Doctors Without Borders, traveling to countries where medical assistance is greatly needed.
Joseph Holway, from Phoenix, Ariz., is a scholar-athlete who also found time for service through the Boys and Girls Club and the Si Se Puede Learning Center, where he volunteered as a tutor. This summer, he participated in a competitive seven-week program in Latin America called Amigos De Las Americas. Holway’s interest in service, and particularly the Peace Corps, is part of what attracted him to HWS. He is also excited about the Colleges’ Environmental Studies Program and the potential to participate in the 3+2 Engineering Program with Columbia or Dartmouth. He is one of the many members of the Classes of 2015 to have enrolled Early Decision. Holway is also a swimmer and skilled soccer player, having been the starting center midfielder in his senior year as well as a member of the Sereno Soccer Club. He participated in the U.S. Olympic Development Program as a member of the Arizona State Soccer Team from 2007 to 2009. He has been given the President’s Service Award by HWS, in recognition of his strong academic record, character and commitment to community engagement.
HWS Trustee Scholar Jeanine Cryan, of Yonkers, N.Y., is also a scholar-athlete. In high school, she took four years of Spanish, Latin and Classical Greek. She attended the Ursuline School where she took honors English and British Literature courses as well as AP courses in U.S. History and U.S. Government and Politics. A Peer Minister in her junior and senior years, she planned and implemented a retreat program for grades six through 10. She competed year-round in tennis and track while also volunteering in various capacities and maintaining part-time jobs. Cryan was born in London, England, and holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and U.K.
Christopher Troy, of Ithaca, N.Y., is this year’s recipient of the highly-competitive Cornelius A. Wood Scholarship, a full-tuition award recognizing the most outstanding first-year student. Troy earned near perfect grades in a number of challenging courses throughout his high school career and completed five AP courses. While focusing strongly on his academics, he also participated on the ice hockey and track and field teams at The Hill School while also playing both clarinet and alto saxophone. He was appointed prefect in his dormitory, with responsibilities similar to resident assistants at the college level. Troy has volunteered and worked at his local YMCA every summer since seventh grade and volunteered as a camp counselor with a week-long Bible camp for elementary children. He also served as vice president of fundraising for Skate for a Cure, a club organized to raise money for breast cancer research.