Indian Creek Upper School students listened with rapt attention, as recent ICS alumni returned to campus to share their college experiences and wisdom at the 2023 Alumni College Panel on Wednesday, January 4, 2023.
This year’s panel represented a wide variety of schools, majors, interests, and experiences, each of which resonated with some members of the student body:
- Sammy Carter ’20 (Business International Relations) Rhodes College, TN
- Chase Fleming-Williams ’21 (Biology) University of Pittsburgh, PA
- Kalle Huff ’21 (Pharmaceutical Sciences) Ohio State University, OH
- Morgan Lonergan ’19 (Economics) Princeton University, NJ
- Sean Lonergan ’20 Notre Dame University, IN
- Shannon Sullivan ’19 (Musical Theater) University of the Arts, PA
- Sophia Wells ’20 Tulane University, LA
- Khalil Williams ’19 (Finance) Bowie State University, MD
During the assembly, Director of College Counseling Maggie Melson moderated a conversation sharing questions that high school students have as they prepare for the college application process. The alumni shared what aspects of a school they felt were most important when choosing a college or university (academic program, location, campus life, climate), and what their biggest surprise was once they got to school (size of classes, amount of free time.) The alumni each spoke about the stress that they felt when applying for colleges and advised current students to have confidence in themselves and keep their options open by applying to a larger number of schools. They also shared a common belief that it is important to visit a school before finalizing the college decision. Upper School students were particularly interested (and entertained) by the graduates’ stories of what it’s like to live with a roommate, and how to cope with situations that are less than ideal. Many were also comforted by the alumni’s reassurance that they do not need to have their majors and future paths set in stone when applying to school.
The most poignant part of the conversation came when Ms. Melson asked the alumni how ICS prepared them to succeed in college. Morgan shared that “The ICS culture supports students’ ability to be active participants in their own education.” This theme was backed by the other alumni, who shared their gratitude to the school for teaching them to create relationships with the adults in their lives. Each alum emphasized ways that this skill has helped them to stand out and succeed at school. Kalle also lauded the academic program at ICS, sharing that while she was at times frustrated with the rigor of the school work she had in high school, this high level of academic challenge has helped her to thrive in the Ohio State University Honors College, when some of her peers struggle. Chase agreed, sharing that his AP Biology notebook from ICS was a “secret weapon” he used to thrive in his college Biology classes.
The alumni who are graduating from college this year shared their future plans with the student body as well. Khalil has accepted a job offer in California and will be moving west at the end of the semester. Shannon will be moving to New York City and "auditioning, auditioning, auditioning!" Morgan will remain focused on academics, pursuing a juris doctor degree at Princeton as well as law degree at Harvard Law School next year.
Upper School Principal Eliza McLaren thanked the alumni for sharing their wisdom with ICS students, and encouraged the Upper School student body to forge their own paths in life. “There is not one single set of footsteps to follow,” she shared. “The ability to self-lead is one of the most important skills we emphasize here at ICS. Self-leadership means having self-awareness and self-management; Having courage, energy, passion, and optimism, being wiling to try something new; setting goals and developing grit and persistence….There are many, many paths to success that ICS students are equipped to forge.”
Following the assembly, Ms. McLaren invited the alumni to meet with her to share further reflections on their ICS experience. The alumni shared that when they talk to others about their high school, they describe Indian Creek as “inclusive," "open-minded," "innovative," "forward-thinking" and "a place of peace.” When asked about what should never change at ICS, the alumni all cited the close relationships between students and faculty, and the environment that encourages students to try new things. Looking back, they are grateful for the culture at ICS where students are given the space to learn and grow, and the opportunity to try a little bit of everything. “I didn’t realize how lucky I was,” Kalle shared.
The annual Alumni College Panel is a favorite day for the ICS faculty and staff, as it provides the opportunity to catch up with former students and enjoy hearing about how they are thriving after graduation. Thank you to Sammy, Chase, Kalle, Shannon, Morgan, Shaun, Sophia, and Khalil for inspiring us all!