Oliver Madubuike

If I could travel back in time, I would tell my 16-year-old self not to fear the unknown, but rather embrace it.

Before SAS, my high school journey was characterized by taking online classes and one dual enrollment course per semester to prepare for college. However, I knew I wanted to be academically challenged and seek a different path for accelerating my studies. It wasn’t until 9th grade when I opened the SAS website for the first time. The prospect of earning an Associates-in-Arts degree before graduating high school and experiencing college full-time was attractive. However, the rigorous demands of a AP/DE course load made me hesitant about applying to the program. Nevertheless, with the loving encouragement of my parents and enlightening testimonials from previous graduating classes, I mustered the courage to break from my comfort zone, apply in 10th grade, and begin attending SAS West in August 2021.

My past two years with SAS are nothing short of transformative. It felt like yesterday was the first day of 11th grade: With my mask on, I was sitting in the back of Ms. Tercilla’s AP Literature class going over a poem about home. After our class discussed it, she told us she wanted our school to feel like a second home. Fortunately, it was.

Both Ms. Tercilla and Ms. Ruiz-Legg bolstered my confidence in writing, helping me find my unique voice through rhetorical and literary analysis of complex texts. Mr. Orichio helped me appreciate the complexities of US History and the functionalities of political and economic systems whilst making it engaging through his captivating storytelling. Dr. Lemus was supportive in my endeavor to reinstate the Mu Alpha Theta chapter to West Campus and add pies to our diet on Pi Day. Finally, Ms. Ochoa (Guidance Counselor) and Ms. Gitman (CAP Advisor) were our number 1 cheerleaders, especially during senior year. From writing letters of recommendations to reading essays and counseling throughout the college application process, their work ethic shows that they believe that their students’ success is their success.

But in addition to faculty excellence, a driving force that motivated me to come to SAS was the community. I never felt more energized whenever I had the opportunity to help one of my classmates with a Calculus problem or to explain how macroeconomic trends worked. Not to mention, our campus-wide talent shows, and Hispanic heritage and Friendsgiving potlucks served as memorable highlights for juniors and seniors alike. But most of all, the White Tiger spirit never burned brighter than when all campuses congregated to conquer roller coasters at Busch Gardens, go wild on Tug-of-War at the picnic, or jam to Thriller on Homecoming night.

Overall, SAS was and is more than just a school. It is a home where you can cultivate meaningful and lasting friendships, endure, but overcome academic challenges, and become personally enriched by the people you meet and experiences you gain in the span of two fleeting, but indelible years. To the sophomores reading through the testimonials debating about whether SAS is for you, I implore you to embrace the unknown and apply to join this beautiful family.

Oliver Madubuike
School for Advanced Studies West Campus, Class of 2023
Harvard University, Class of 2027