2012 Scholar Profiles

Natalie Antunez
Natalie’s teachers at Hialeah High School (Hialeah, FL) pointed to her impressive maturity, her deep reserve of self-understanding, and her high degree of empathy. She is articulate, academically accomplished (she took six Advanced Placement courses and achieved the highest score of 5 on each), loves the music of the ‘80s and the “old rock” bands, believes in the work of human rights organizations, and helps to raise funds for a number of charitable projects. She is learning American Sign Language to minimize language barriers with a member of her extended family. Natalie at once sums up her accomplishments and her considerable potential: “I favor the thrill of a challenge.” Natalie is a National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar, a College Board award based on PSAT scores in the junior year. As a junior at Harvard University, she has academic concentrations in English and sociology, she is a member of a sorority and treasurer of Latinas Unidas de Harvard, and she has participated in a community service project on an urban farm in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. Her desire to travel abroad and experience other cultures remains strong: using funds provided by one of Harvard’s endowed programs, she traveled to Peru for a week and also studied Spanish language and culture in Barcelona and Madrid.  She is a Peer Advising Fellow for incoming freshmen.
Johana Barxha
Few teenagers understand the hardships and the opportunities associated with the “American Dream” as well as Johana, who came to America from Albania, with her family, at the age of five. She is highly motivated and adept at self-teaching: she learned English by watching the Discovery and History channels on television with her father, she spent the summer following her sophomore year reading and learning quantum physics, and she is teaching herself Italian as a third language. While demonstrating excellence in every subject at J. R. Masterman High School (Philadelphia, PA), her deepest academic affection was for math and science; Johana was a member of her school’s first Robotics team, describing it as “a great outlet for my love of engineering.” She is also musical (she played first flute in her school’s orchestra) and athletic (she was a member of the badminton and tennis teams), and she gives generously of her time to help tutor classmates and younger students. At UPenn, she is focused on a major in economics and a minor in consumer psychology, and she is involved with On Campus Recruiting as well as Big Brothers Big Sisters. For the fall 2016 semester, she studied in Milan, Italy.
Spencer Dunleavy
As Johana’s classmate at J. R. Masterman High School (Philadelphia, PA), the most highly ranked school in the Philadelphia School District, Spencer earned only A grades for his entire school career while taking the most challenging courses. Even with such evidence of academic success, however, Spencer’s overwhelming quality is his unwavering commitment to serve others. He arrived early at school each day to provide tutoring through the “Ninth Grade Initiative.” He also met with older and younger students at lunch and even during weekends to help support their academic success. He explains that he “loves to see someone else succeed” and that it gives him a great feeling to watch others achieve success they did not think possible. His talents, moreover, are not limited to the classroom or service projects; he also was elected captain of the school’s soccer team in his junior year. He is now following through on his dream  to pursue a degree in chemistry on his way to medical school. At Harvard, he worked with the Red Cross and served as co-director of CPR/First Aid/AED training for the college.  He also worked in the Psychology Research lab, served as a peer study leader for the Introduction to Chemistry course, assisted a physician at a homeless shelter clinic, helped to manage a nonprofit (Raise Uganda Now), and participated in intramural sports. Spencer is a 2017 Rhodes Scholar; following graduation, he will pursue two master's degrees at Oxford University.
Chelsea Jerome
A straight-A student and member of the National Honor Society at Hazen Union High School (Hardwick, VT), Chelsea took the college preparatory and honor courses offered at her rural school in the Northeast Kingdom, an area nestled between the Green Mountains and the Connecticut River. In high school, Chelsea had a special affinity for fiction writing. Describing her creative work as imaginative and technically exacting, her high school English teacher commented that she “exhibits both a willingness to take adventuresome risks in craft and an unusually perceptive grasp of human psychology.” Her poem, “The Sky Exhales,” appeared in the Green Mountain Trading Post, a publication featuring original writing in the North Country. Chelsea balanced her rigorous academic program with numerous volunteer activities which reflect her deep-rooted sense of personal responsibility to others. She served as a mentor in an eleventh-grade school program, an aide at a local nursing home, and a library assistant. She also wa a member of her school’s soccer and track & field teams as well as its Varsity Club. At Middlebury, she is majoring in Psychology and held a research assistant position, working with a member of the faculty to conduct family interviews in selected sites around the country.  For the spring 2016 semester, she studied abroad at the University of Sydney.
Ambar Peralta
Ambar performed exceptionally well on her PSATs and the [New York State] Regents’ exams as well as in her honors and Advanced Placement classes at Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics (Bronx, NY). She is a well-rounded scholar and excels in all subjects, although she shows a particular gift for writing. She is also a talented artist whose work was featured in two exhibitions held at Lehman College. In addition to her serious academic commitment and artistry, Ambar was deeply involved in her school and community. She was treasurer of the Junior Class, a member of the National Honor Society and the Science National Honor Society, and she tutored struggling students at the nearby Eagle Academy. Most notably, she participated in the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity program (SEO), an academic enrichment program hosted by a Wall Street firm. Ambar was selected for SEO among students citywide, and she was given the additional honor of being one of two Gear Up scholars who took classes at Harvard University during the summer between her sophomore and junior years. At Dartmouth, she has taken advanced courses in Japanese language and culture, leading to a study-abroad experience in Chiba, Japan—the first country she has visited outside of her home in Dominican Republic.
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