Marina Baeta Cookson 

Naturally, I heard about SAS from the billboards sprawled around the city and a gentle push from my parents. Halfway through my sophomore year, the decision to apply was sprung upon me, as the deadline approached. With sincere honesty, the decision was very difficult, as a love for my previous high school with close friends and teachers held me back. Making a decision on the last day to apply, I realized that opportunities like these don’t come around so often, and submitted my application. In the wise words of John Adams, “every problem is an opportunity in disguise”, and I embrace every moment at SAS as an opportunity, just like I did when it came to applying. 

Luckily I had many close friends transfer over, and I realized after some time that this large problem I faced as a sophomore was my most transformative and rewarding opportunity. Knowing the challenging environment that was to come, I entered my first day at the Wolfson campus with a shield. This shield was hesitant to open up, speak in class, and focused solely on getting through the first few days unscathed. However, I quickly realized a shield would get me nowhere, and that a little courage was necessary to get through the next two years. Upon opening up and taking every little moment as an opportunity, I grew as a student. Ms. Martinez’s guidance throughout junior year by helping us understand the college application process and the importance of time management, to Ms. Cabrera’s persistence in helping us form educated opinions about literary works of fiction and non-fiction were the moments that developed my capabilities as a student throughout the last two years. By opening up, I learned the power of making mistakes, and transforming them into large bounds of progress. I have learned the power of being uncomfortable, vulnerable, and emotional to texts, stories, and experiences, translating my passions into changes as a student and within my community. The constant reminders of being organized, remaining dedicated, and applying the guidance my teachers offered every day made me more aware, and pushed me from a student that typically didn’t have to try at school, to a student that worked just a bit harder than everyone else to achieve her goals. Beyond the high school teachers, dedicated professionals at the Miami Dade College Campuses offer classes that many high schoolers don’t have the opportunity to take, such as hands-on anatomy and chemistry labs that furthered my passion for medicine. These lessons and experiences were the basis for my educational successes at the School for Advanced Studies Wolfson. 

Beyond the hard work that is essential to success at SAS, community is one of the schools’ strongest values and assets. The small school environment allows for the creation of relationships with teachers on a deeper level, as well as the foundation for lifelong friendships. Like I previously stated, coming into SAS with a large group of familiar students facilitated my transition, moreover, decent familiarity with the students around me gave me the confidence to introduce myself to new new students, broadening my perspective of relationships, academia, and success. With these relationships, a group of four amazing girls became my best friends at SAS, as their determination and differing interests from mine supported my ultimate success as a senior. Additionally, attempts to join the campuses as a large united student body is another strength SAS has. From the picnics at Tropical Park, mentoring sessions for juniors by seniors from every campus, celebrations of college decisions and acceptances, and finally a united graduation that celebrates the successes of every individual beyond their geographical location is an unforgettable end to an amazing two years. 

It is a fact that being an SAS student for two years is simply not enough. The moments I have shared with friends and teachers, to the bounds I have overcome, my successes at SAS are evidence of the transformative nature of the school and the dedication to academics. The foundation for my future career in medicine was developed, through an Aquatic Therapy internship at Jackson Hospital, passion projects working with the disabled in a local non-profit, shadowing opportunities at Baptist Hospital, and finally presidency in the Medical Club. My hobbies were developed through presidency of the Literary Magazine/Yearbook, participation in Dual Enrollment mathematics opportunities at the University of Miami, and membership as a ball person at the Miami Open Tennis Tournament. Additionally, awards such as the Univision Orgullo de Nuestra Juventud Scholarship, Elks Scholarship, Hispanic Youth Awards Scholarship and Scholar, Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar and Scholarship Winner, School for Advanced Studies Spirit of Excellence Award, Silver Knight Nominee, and many more. My dedication to academics has led me to attend Princeton University’s Class of 2028 on a 90% scholarship, studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Portuguese on the pre-med track. A wholehearted dedication as a new alumni of SAS keeps me coming back to share my stories beyond the building 8 hallways. 

For those planning on attending SAS, I can almost guarantee the most amazing next two years of your life. The love I have for this institution and the people within it deserve recognition and praise for their outstanding work. This new chapter of your life will be hard at first, but ultimately rewarding, so stay dedicated, passionate, and absorb everything you can over the next two years! 

Marina Baeta Cookson 
School for Advanced Studies Wolfson, Class of 2024 
Princeton University, Class of 2028