Student Summer Profiles

Features  /  by Cate Levy '20  /  September 15, 2017

The words in Lawrenceville’s mission statement “[inspiring] the best in each to seek the best for all” seem to perfectly encompass many experiences of Lawrentians throughout the summer of 2017. Whether it was backpacking through Iceland or volunteering at a girls home in Tanzania, students undoubtedly made a positive difference in the world, making their best efforts to productively and enthusiastically influence others with the hope of bringing out the best in them. Students Lizzy Gracey ’18, Lily Vore ’19, and Liana Raguso ’20 were models of this behavior.

Lily Vore ’19 had an incredibly full summer. She not only was a counselor at the Lawrenceville School Camp and Performing Arts Camp but also took part in the school trip to Tanzania. Vore stayed on the Janada L. Bachelor Foundation for Children (JBFC) campus in Mwanza, where orphaned girls ranging from ages three to sixteen live. Each day, the group spent time with the girls, harvesting plants, playing with them, cooking with them, and reading to assigned reading buddies. After week one of this experience, Vore headed to the Serengeti for a two-day safari. Once the excursion was over, she and the group returned to Mwanza for a second week with the JBFC community, continuing to bond with the girls and children from the village attending the school on campus. That week, the Lawrenceville students helped organize a literacy program, connecting students from the JBFC school and local church and assigning reading buddies to improve the children’s reading abilities and expand their educational horizons. Vore noted the most surprising part of her experience in Tanzania: “Despite the harsh backgrounds every girl there experienced, their high spirits and illuminating smiles shined brightly […] Girls with every card stacked against them spent every day laughing and smiling and learning. Sometimes we get upset if we crack our phone screen or lose a notebook. The everyday hardships so many others face in the world really highlight what we are so fortunate to have at home.” Vore’s summer experience was filled with community service and cultural immersion, truly making an impact on her life.

Slightly farther away was Lizzy Gracey ’18, participating in another school trip in Iceland. Arriving in Reykjavik, Gracey and a group of 10 other Lawrentians spent their first 10 days on the Southern coast of Iceland, on the Vestmannaeyjar Islands. Almost every day, the group traveled to a new camp ground, bringing everything them needed with them in 40+ lb backpacks. Gracey saw a wide array of land types, ranging from glacial lakes to black sand beaches to deserts. To her, “Iceland just [didn’t] look real.” The ecosystems were diverse and breathtaking, making the entire experience engaging and intriguing, especially for someone interested in biology as Gracey is. To end the trip, the group embarked upon a 32-mile hike along the Laugavegur trail, encountering many difficulties along the way. Gracey learned a lot from the experience, reflecting that “when senior fall knocks [her] down, [she] will think of the moment on a snow-covered ridge where brutal winds beat [her] pack like a sail and blew [her] down a mudslide, giving [her] face an organic facial.” She also recommends that “anyone who is curious about an international trip [should] pursue that curiosity. Sometimes as teenagers, the most we can ask for is a change in perspective, and for [her], some Smjor, good company, and a hard day of hiking” was that change.

Throughout the summer, Liana Raguso ’20 worked in the microbiology lab of Dr. Tory Hendry at Cornell University. According to Raguso, she conducted research on the genetic diversity of the bacteria that live in the light organs of flashlight fish and analyzed shared mutations among these organisms. She had the opportunity to learn about biology, one of her passions, as well as scientific programming. She notes that the experience “was definitely challenging at times, but it was really rewarding to see everything come together at the end,” and that it was quite intriguing to learn “how the things [she’s] learned in science class apply to real life, and how math, programming, and science all intersect.” Raguso was able to delve deep into a field that truly fascinates her and help make a difference in the scientific world while doing so.

This summer, many Lawrentians embarked on journeys that spoke to their passions, engaged their intellect, and filled them with purpose, making the summer of 2017 an overall successful one for the Lawrenceville community.