Camila Di Catarina  

 I’ve rewritten this over and over again, wondering how to properly articulate the gratitude I feel towards this school. The last two years of my life here at SAS have been the most challenging and rewarding of my life, and I already wish I could go back and replay my memories of it: both the good and the bad. If you are even remotely considering becoming part of our family, all I can say is: yes, just do it. Don’t let anyone scare you into thinking you’re incapable of achieving what you set your mind to.  

Some might warn you that the classes are too difficult and too demanding, and that you won’t have a “normal high school experience.” While the classes are tough, they are not at all impossible. And, personally, I believe that last part is true and a good thing, not a downside. I really doubt you’ll find the level of personal support given to you at SAS in any other school, with teachers who are happy to help during office hours and tutoring. I doubt that you’ll have the freedom to pick your own college level classes or have the flexibility to organize your time however you need it. I doubt you’ll spend a class period doubling over with laughter as you and your friends try to frantically memorize the unit circle before a pre-calculus test while enjoying free donuts at MDC events since you are, technically, also a college student. Nowhere else can you spend time in a library bonding with classmates over stressfully studying for a physics exam in the morning while playing dominoes with them just an hour after on the third floor.  

SAS is a school like no other because you form such tight knit bonds with the people you see every single day, for two years straight. Mr. Orichio’s APUSH class taught me to shift my perspective and see not only the events of our past, but of their short and long term impacts. In AP GOV he helped teach us how to form our own opinions and argue for them. The grueling semesters of pre-calculus and AP Calculus AB with Dr. Lemus showed how important grit and determination are, and that even those impossible math problems that bring you to tears with frustration will soon be solved like second nature with enough practice and time. It was Mrs. Ruiz-Legg’s classes which taught me that to be human is to love, and that words hold more power than one might expect. I believe it’s the people who surrounded me and supported me throughout this time who helped mold me into the confident, compassionate, and capable individual I am today.  

Open yourself to taking a chance to change the course of your life for the better. SAS is rigorous, and challenging, and a little intimidating. But it’s also so, so rewarding. It gives you freedom in allowing you to really take hold of your future and shape it into what you want it to be, and gives you the necessary support so you can learn from your mistakes and grow as a person.  

These aren’t just motivational words (though I do hope they help convince you to join SAS!), I mean them earnestly. If you’re feeling unfulfilled with the academic rigor of your school, if you want the opportunity to get a taste of college life while still having an unforgettable and impactful junior and senior year, SAS will welcome you with open arms. I can promise you won’t regret it.  

Camila Di Catarina  
School for Advanced Studies West Campus, Class of 2024  
Yale University, Class of 2028