Highlighting our Students: Eliza Asante '22
Hi, my name is Eliza Asante and I am in my third year at Vermont Academy. I am from New York City and I have been going to boarding school since the 7th grade. I came to Vermont Academy in 10th grade and let me tell you it was the best decision I could have made. Vermont Academy has helped me try new things and become an independent person. This school has been a great experience in my life and I will continue to encourage people to go here!
What dorm do you live in? Sturtevant Hall
What clubs and leadership positions are you a part of? Social Justice Union, Tour Guide
On the weekends, you’ll find me...in the dance room most of the time, at soccer games, baking with Ms. Lanterman, playing volleyball, eating cider donuts and drinking cider on Sundays, and taking a trip with my friends in the Wildcat Cab.
Favorite class right now and why? Pre-calculus because Mr. Echanis makes learning fun and he knows how to teach each student individually. Math is also my favorite subject!
I knew I wanted to come to VA because of my brother, Kofi '18. He would go home for breaks and couldn’t wait to go back, and I said to myself, what is so good about this school that he wants to be there all the time? My experience with school had never been like that, and it wasn’t until attending VA that I understood what he felt.
I toured Vermont Academy several times – it just felt like such a community, such a family. I kept coming back to tour because I loved it so much. On one of the tours, I was led by a student I later became close friends with; we were walking down Long Walk, and it just felt so easy to be here. I wasn’t even a student here yet, and I already felt so included and safe. I knew that if I chose to come to VA, I would find people who accepted me and would want to be my friends. At VA, there is always a person for another person.
Talk about your experience as a boarding student on our campus.
Dorm life at VA is great! This past Sunday, we had a dorm BBQ led by our dorm head, Ms. Armiger, on Sturtevant Dorm Porch. We made homemade bean spinach dip with sourdough bread, and we grilled potatoes and sausages – it was such a nice dorm bonding experience. In my previous years in other dorms on campus, this same type of experience happened a lot. Dorm parents make the dorm feel like home and they are always there for you. I love the homemade chips and salsa and cookies! I genuinely feel at home at VA, which is a testament to how this place serves its students.
In my first year at VA, I was paired with Stella ‘23, and we have been friends and roommates ever since! I love her! I love living with her. VA did a good job pairing the two of us together, even though we are such different people. In the beginning, it’s normal to be nervous about getting a roommate, but it’s also really nice to have someone to come home to and talk to. It’s also a great way to get to know new people; they introduce you to their friends and vice versa.
What about your experience in the classroom? What has been your learning experience? What is it like working with VA faculty?
VA’s style of teaching doesn’t really include lectures; our teachers focus on hands-on learning. For example, my AP Environmental class goes outside often and uses Vermont Academy’s campus as an outdoor classroom. Just recently, we took a walk on campus with a forester's Cruz-All, a tool used to measure the basal forest stands, and a field guide for the identification of native forest trees. With these tools, we are able to collect data on the abundance of trees and identify them with their bark characteristics and information such as the shapes of the leaves. Our data showed us the species richness and species evenness in the forest--two important indicators of biodiversity.
Different people learn in different ways, but I think VA’s style of teaching is helpful to all types of learners. Before I came to VA, it felt like my teachers just wanted to get their job done – they would teach and I would turn in the work. It never really felt like they cared about their students’ needs or how they felt, or how a classroom might need to learn. At VA, I feel like teachers are really empathetic to their students' needs.
Can you speak to the college process and your goals following graduation?
Every student is paired with a college counselor starting in the winter of their junior year. The director of college counseling gets the juniors together and helps them set up Naviance, a program that supports the college process and the selection of schools of interest to you. The College Counseling office also talks about the financial aid process, SAT/ACT prep, and helps you to narrow down what schools you plan to visit in the spring/summer. In the spring, we begin to talk about letters of recommendation, applying early decision/early action, and the college admissions process.
At the start of the senior year, the college counseling team gets the class together to set up the Common App, a program that allows students to apply to many colleges using one application – it makes the process easier. Naviance is also used when narrowing down your search. We have to submit things like our test scores, transcripts, etc.
I am applying to several colleges including NYU, Julliard, University of Southern California, Quinnipiac, Dennison, UCLA, Boston University, Boston College, TUFTS, and Amherst. I have several different directions that I may take in college -- it all depends on what schools I get accepted into. I love to dance and have been dancing most of my life, and I also love to act. Some of the schools I am looking at have very strong acting programs, which would be incredible. I am also interested in physical therapy programs. I am pulled in a couple of different directions, but it’s so exciting!
Any advice that you would give to incoming students?
Be confident and be who you are – do not change who you are for anyone. People at VA will accept you for who you are. No matter what, you will find your people here.
There is always someone in your life who will try to influence you to be something else or to do things that you are not comfortable with. Don’t let anyone tell you who you are. No one knows who you are but you, so lean on that.
You control your future here and only you can decide how much effort you will put into being a VA student. Use the support around you and do the things you want to do.
This interview is one in a series spotlighting Vermont Academy students, their academic and extracurricular pursuits, what makes VA the place they chose to be, and what it means to live and learn at Vermont Academy.