Graduates going the distance
After living for 18 years tucked away in the woods of rural Conway, Waverley Engelman will start college this fall a 10-minute subway ride from Times Square.
The Academy at Charlemont senior’s college list included many rural schools — but Barnard College in New York City beat them all. After applying early decision and receiving an acceptance letter last fall, Engelman is excited to begin a new life in a place far different from her longtime home.
“You can kind of use the city as a classroom,” said Engelman. She enrolled in a summer program at Barnard last year — a test to see how she would adapt to bustling city life — and loved visiting theaters, museums and libraries.
As seniors across Franklin County graduate from their public high schools, they’ll all be preparing for new experiences, and many will move away from home for the first time for college or work.
But a smaller percentage are moving outside the New England college bubble altogether. Greenfield High School will see four of its 73 graduates leave the region, Pioneer has eight of 80 and Frontier has nine of 94. Four Rivers Charter Public School has a higher rate, with 11 of 31 graduates leaving New England.
Greenfield High School senior Yelitza Rosario looked at her accepted college list and chose Miami University — located about 13 hours west in Oxford, Ohio.
“I always wanted to go far away. I just thought I’d want a new experience,” said Rosario. When she attends orientation this summer, it will be the first time she visits the campus and college town.
“I think I’ll be very homesick at first,” said Rosario, who plans to study biology. “(But) I’m kind of independent. I’m excited to go away.”
Ben Garbus — an 18-year-old senior at Four Rivers and son of the school’s principal — applied to colleges all over the country, as far away as Portland, Ore.
He settled on Oberlin College, a small private liberal arts and music college in northeast Ohio.
“I’m really excited to get out of the Northeast college culture ...(and) carve out a niche,” said Garbus, who is looking forward to small classes and individualized attention from professors.
Oberlin and Oxford are college towns with about 8,000 and 22,000 people respectively — not too far off in size from Greenfield.
But even Engelman said she feels comfortable with the area surrounding Barnard. The private women’s liberal arts college is affiliated with and near Columbia University, and is located in the Morningside Heights neighborhood near the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
“(It is) a small community within a large city ... a really quaint lovely neighborhood,” said Engelman.
During her stay at Barnard last summer, there was one day when her afternoon class was canceled and all of her friends were busy. She decided to go on a solo adventure to sightsee, shop and eat in the city.
“It was really kind of empowering to take the subway by myself, to navigate the streets of New York City (and) do something that I wanted to do without anyone guiding me,” said Engelman.
“That was a really exciting moment and made me all the (more) confident,” she said.
You can reach Chris Shores at:
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