Eliya Smith '16
Harvard University '20
16 Years at CSG
Laying the foundation for success
I love school. I love feeling free to engage and ask questions; I love challenging my peers and occasionally my teachers; I love being surrounded by girls with interesting insights and different perspectives. Most of all, I love the sense of fulfillment that growth—academic, social, personal—provides. CSG established high expectations for what a learning environment should be, which has implications for my experience in college and beyond.
We spend so much of our lives working, first in a classroom, and then at a desk. At CSG, I learned to relish the process of working hard, instead of seeing work as a necessary and unpleasant means to an end. I’m so grateful to have learned how to learn in a culture that values the work just as much as the result.
Beyond the Classroom
CSG is a small school with a large extracurricular life. Since there are so many positions available for relatively few people, girls aren’t forced to specialize and instead are expected to try everything. This system suited me very well, because it allowed me to heavily involve myself in a wide range of passions. I could accept a part in the play while working diligently as the newspaper editor. I could run very slowly on the track team, while serving as class president and singing in The Grace Notes (CSG’s select choir).
Such a broad collection of extracurriculars allowed me to begin to form an idea of what I’m passionate about. Toward the end of high school, I began more seriously pursuing theater: I performed locally in professional productions, submitted a play to a local young writers’ competition, and assistant directed twice. My range of interests also resulted in varied and sometimes surprising friendships. Many of my closest friends were involved in different activities than I, which forced me to get to know new people, ultimately creating some of my most cherished friendships. This balance between the benefits of broad exploration and focused dedication defines, in my opinion, the CSG extracurricular experience.
Finding a College Home
I expected the college application process to be extraordinarily stressful and to bring out the worst in myself and everyone I knew. As it turned out, I was right about the first, but blessedly wrong about the second. The process was daunting, but as I watched my peers finalize their applications and, one by one, hear back, I was so proud of the culture that formed surrounding decisions. People took every acceptance as cause for celebration and refused to dwell on rejections. When someone got in, the hallways were abuzz with excited chatter within seconds. The stresses remained, but the process felt a lot less lonesome when I knew my peers were rooting for me, just as I was for them.
All I can say is that it’s unlikely I’ll become a Ph.D. mathematician or a zoologist. Other than that, my future is wide open. I love theater, and could see myself pursuing something drama-related, but I also love literature and history and perhaps psychology and mythology. Who knows?
My proudest moments in high school mostly revolve around fond community-related memories. For example, in the spring of my senior year, I served as co-chair of the Skit Committee for one of CSG’s longstanding traditions, Senior Day. The night before Senior Day, our committee stayed up all night, battling equal amounts of yawns and hysterical fits of giggles, frantically finalizing the video for the next day. I was proud of the finished product, but my favorite takeaway from that experience was the inextricable bonds we created that night. I have similar memories from practically every history test, lit paper, newspaper issue, and student council event. I’m proud of the result, but what I truly cherished was the process of getting there.