Hobart and William Smith Colleges will be proud to welcome one of the most talented first-year classes in its history when the Classes of 2016 arrive in Geneva in late August. Hailing from 11 countries and 32 states within the U.S., the incoming students bring with them diverse backgrounds as editors of their high school newspapers, class officers, student government representatives, and community service leaders. Continuing to rank among the nation’s brightest, the Colleges were able to recognize more than a third of the incoming students with merit awards and honors. In addition to their exceptional academic credentials, of the 620 enrolled, 220 were captains of a varsity sport in high school and, notably, about 100 come from legacy families.
“This was among the most engaged group of applicants we’ve seen. They impressed the Committee on Admissions with the range of their interests and passions, and their collective commitment to community service,” says Bob Murphy, vice president for enrollment and dean of admissions. “We expect big things from these classes and look forward to seeing the positive impact they’re going to have on the campus and the community.”
Nearly a quarter of the incoming classes have immersed themselves in community service activities throughout their high school careers. They have held leadership roles as student-to-student mentors and organizers of clubs or groups that have addressed such issues as autism, cancer, poverty and homelessness. They have worked with established programs and organizations such as Locks of Love, Toys for Tots, Special Olympics, Project Eye-to-Eye, American Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity. Their efforts have benefited families, children, seniors and entire communities, have stocked food pantries and raised thousands of dollars for charities.
Robert Bauer, of Portsmouth, R.I., for example, worked to repair homes in the coal mining community of Welch, W.Va., for three summers. Sarah Friedman, of Westfield, N.J., researched, designed and built an Osprey Post on Long Beach Island. Other students participated in international service trips; among them were Adam Goodman, of Wayland, Mass., who worked on an organic farm in Costa Rica, and Sarah Litt, of Shaker Heights, Ohio, a trip leader and intern for the Hope for Honduran Children service trip.
Eirini Melio Chrysanthi Karaliota, of Thessaloniki, Greece, is deeply involved with the blind community, acting as a tour guide and mentor for blind youth. Able to read Braille, she has worked to organize GoalBall tournaments for the blind.
An outstanding student at his high school in Niskayuna, N.Y., Ryan Mullaney will enter the Colleges as a Wood scholar. In addition to his stellar performance in the classroom, which earned him the accolade of scholar-athlete and a place in the National Honor Society, Mullaney’s dedication to his community makes him a good fit to the incoming class. He has served meals to those in need as a volunteer with the Schenectady City Mission, has acted as a mentor to inner city children through the Fowler Albany Day Camp, and has shown that his attentions are not just local but also international through his efforts as president of his school’s Amnesty International Club.
Gabrielle Hafalia, of Glendale, Ariz., comes to campus with an enthusiasm for politics and a commitment to community service. An exemplary student who was the founding member of her school’s Model United Nations organization and an American Legion Auxiliary state delegate, Hafalia repaired homes in the lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and served as the editor-in-chief of her school’s art and literary magazine.
In addition to working to improve the lives of others in the community, incoming first-years were actively involved in and made an impact on their high schools. Numerous students played instruments with their high school bands, jazz bands and marching bands and performed with the schools’ theatre groups.
Brooklyn native Jack Slattery has not only devoted his time and energy to his school’s varsity lacrosse and soccer teams, but he is also a gifted playwright. In addition to attending numerous playwriting workshops, his plays have been performed at local festivals and by the New York University graduate program workshop.
Kathryn Mendez, of Lackawanna, N.Y., brings to the Colleges her love of science and passion for medicine. Captain of her swimming and diving team, senior editor of her school’s newspaper and yearbook, Mendez will join the Colleges as a Hersh Scholar.
While it’s not necessary to declare a major at HWS until sophomore year, many of the incoming students have already taken the opportunity to research careers and academic disciplines, honing skills they know they will use or testing the field through courses, internships or entrepreneurial pursuits.
For example, Ingrid Dehler-Seter, of Bemidji, Minn., spent the majority of her senior year living on her own an hour and a half away from home, dancing every day in the pre-professional ballet program at Reif Dance Center and working to help cover her expenses. Levi Boyer, of Waterport, N.Y., studied electrical trades through the Orleans/Niagara BOCES, taking first place in the NYS SkillsUSA Competition and 12th place in the National Championship. Samuel Hallowell, of Middletown, R.I., earned his scuba diving certification and started his own business performing underwater maintenance on boats.
“The Hobart and William Smith community eagerly awaits the arrival of the Classes of 2016,” says Murphy. “Four years from now, there is no telling what they will have achieved.”