Where are they now? Checking in on last year’s graduating staff members

The+2016-2017+Courier+staff.+From+left%2C+kneeling%3A+Lila+Gill%2C+Meredith+Maiorana%2C+Hannah+Edelman.+From+left%2C+standing%3A+Maya+Duplik%2C+Vinay+Bodapati%2C+David+Kalk%2C+Chad+Spurio%2C+Christina+Cartwright%2C+Madison+McGirr%2C+Edward+Melsher%2C+Jake+Novack.
The 2016-2017 Courier staff. From left, kneeling: Lila Gill, Meredith Maiorana, Hannah Edelman. From left, standing: Maya Duplik, Vinay Bodapati, David Kalk, Chad Spurio, Christina Cartwright, Madison McGirr, Edward Melsher, Jake Novack.

The 2016-2017 Courier staff. From left, kneeling: Lila Gill, Meredith Maiorana, Hannah Edelman. From left, standing: Maya Duplik, Vinay Bodapati, David Kalk, Chad Spurio, Christina Cartwright, Madison McGirr, Edward Melsher, Jake Novack.

Jake Novack

Jake Novack

The 2016-2017 Courier staff. From left, kneeling: Lila Gill, Meredith Maiorana, Hannah Edelman. From left, standing: Maya Duplik, Vinay Bodapati, David Kalk, Chad Spurio, Christina Cartwright, Madison McGirr, Edward Melsher, Jake Novack.

Jake Novack, Writing Editor

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Last year, the Solon High School Courier tearfully parted ways with its four graduating staff members: Hannah Edelman, Meredith Maiorana, Edward Melsher and Chad Spurio. From March Madness previews to powerful opinions on gender to one very passionate review of Melt’s Potato Bacon Bomb, these four brought a creative passion to our publication that left a huge impact on us. As they foray into their first year of college, we decided to check in our former contributors and inquire about the intricacies of life on a college campus.

Where are you attending college? What’s your major/area of academic interest?

Edelman: I go to Boston University. I’m double-majoring in Journalism and Film & Television (Film/TV is a singular major) in the College of Communications. I’m also planning to minor in Spanish.

Maiorana: I’m attending The Theatre School at DePaul University in beautiful Chicago, Illinois! I’m studying Theatre Management which is a BFA conservatory degree mixing course material from The Theatre School and the Driehaus College of Business. My degree looks at the administrative, business side of theatre.

Melsher: I am attending Miami University, and my major is currently Computer Science. I also am pursuing a minor in Sport Management.

Spurio: I am currently attending Miami University and plan on pursuing a Biology major—this is subject to change, however, as I am notoriously awful at following through with things. I still consider myself “undecided” as far as my major goes.

Why did you choose to attend your current school?

Melsher: The moment I went on a school tour, I knew Miami was the school for me. It’s weird, you can spend months deliberating about which school has the best program for your major, which school has the best academics, which school has the right amount of students, but in the end, the most convincing argument is the indistinguishable and unreplicatable feeling you get when you step on campus and realize that this is the school to be your home for the next four years. Miami gave me that feeling.

Maiorana: I chose DePaul because The Theatre School is one of the only schools in the country to offer a BFA degree in Theatre Management. Having a BFA versus a BA or BS degree means that I’m getting extremely focused coursework in my field, and means that my degree is just as rigorous as a conservatory performance degree. I also chose DePaul because it is surrounded by the city of Chicago which has one of the largest theatre communities in the US and has over 200 theatre companies. Having so many resources both at my school and in the wider community will allow me to get internships and hands on training that will make me a very marketable employee when I graduate.  

How are college classes in comparison to those at SHS? Was it a big adjustment to switch to larger lectures? Is there a significantly higher workload?

Edelman: One thing I like about BU is that for the most part, classes are fairly small. I currently have two large lectures, which is definitely weird, but they each have a separate discussion period that’s similar in size to a class at SHS and is facilitated by grad students to be able to ask more direct questions. Other than that, most of my classes are a seminar-style with about 15 people, which keeps me very engaged. The workload again depends on the class, but overall there’s definitely more. I probably do at least five or six hours of work a day, but I also spend way less time actually in the classroom. The homework (for me) is more enjoyable here as well, since it’s less busywork and more research, reading and paper-writing.

Melsher: Most of my lectures are actually around the same size as my classes in Solon, which I am a huge fan of. I don’t like particularly large lectures because I feel as though you get lost in the crowd and professors don’t care about you as much. There is definitely a noticeable jump in workload, but I have a lot more free time, so it evens out.

Do you think that high school classes (AP classes in particular, if you took them) adequately prepared you for a college learning environment?

Spurio: The AP classes that I took at Solon (European History and Psychology) prepared me very well for my college courses. That’s not to say that I did particularly well in those classes, but I think it helped shape healthy study habits as well as it introduced me to a much higher level of work. Those classes are actually more difficult than most of the classes that I am taking as of right now.

Maiorana: Yes, definitely! Even though I’m not using the knowledge I learned in AP Chemistry or Physics directly like I am with AP Literature and Language, the fast-paced environment and heavy workload of Solon AP classes definitely lessened the culture shock of high expectations at my school. I am also so grateful for the test credit I have now because it gave me a lot of wiggle room in my degree progress to go for three minors: Business Management, Business Administration and Communications and Media (shout out to my experience on the Courier staff for that one) in addition to my conservatory coursework in The Theatre School.  

Is there a significant difference between college life and living at home?

Melsher: A lot more personal responsibility. Nobody is around to remind you to do anything, whether it be laundry or schoolwork. Everything is on you, which is a welcome change for some and (understandably) a nightmare for others. Personally, I’m happy managing myself; I enjoy living my own lifestyle and I take pride in fulfilling responsibilities on my own.

Spurio: Oh, of course. Living away from home is a life-changing experience. You are so much more self-reliant and much of the accommodations you have grown up living with are gone. But it’s a good thing too; I think being forced to go outside your comfort zone is really important in becoming an adult and although it may not be easy, it is essential to your own growth.  

Are you involved in any clubs or organizations outside of the classroom? How have they enhanced your college experience?

Melsher: I am involved in a few clubs, including the Association for Computing Machinery and MU eSports. Joining clubs just helps enhance your interests and connects you to people who share those interests. I would definitely recommend any first-year to at least check out their school’s list of clubs or Club Fair, if they hold one.

Maiorana: Yes! I went through sorority recruitment in September, and joined Alpha Omicron Pi, the chapter that my mom was in when she was in college! Having a group of strong women that share my values has been such a comfort, and having mentors in the organization like my Big and the president of my chapter has been an invaluable source of advice and comfort these past few months. I also have a job in the Marketing and PR office of The Theatre School where I work with not only DePaul staff members, but also upperclassmen students. The office I work in has been so welcoming and supportive, and I’ve already learned so much from the older Theatre Management students and my bosses both about PR/Marketing and just about being a college student and how to navigate the Theatre School.

At your school, are there fun things to do off-campus?

Edelman: Yes! Because of this nifty little thing called public transportation, I can get to any event in the Boston area (including the surrounding neighborhoods) in about half an hour. There’s always something going on. For example, I’ve been to protests, street fairs, museums, comedy shows and film festivals in the span of about two months, and those are just the major things. I’m typically downtown every weekend, even if it’s just to go to a store or restaurant, because being near a city makes that possible. Boston is also known as the “Walking City,” so it’s all very accessible.

Maiorana: Definitely! Being in the city, there are an infinite number of amazing things to do in my free time! I have gone to see so many amazing shows, gone to the Lincoln Park Zoo, explored downtown, gone to museums and just walked around my neighborhood!   

Melsher: Oxford’s in the middle of nowhere, but everything you need is either on-campus or in Uptown. Uptown is bustling on the weekends; there are plenty of restaurants and bars that students pack into on Friday and Saturday nights.

None of your schools have an undergraduate population over 20,000 students. To you, what was so attractive about a mid-size school?

Maiorana: I really wanted a personal experience in college, I didn’t want to be a random face in a lecture hall or a name on a paper. The small class size and personal attention of DePaul and The Theatre School were what drew me to that size and that has certainly paid off. Having that mentorship with my professors has been really helpful in making progress and them being able to know me and my goals and aspirations has made for a lot of amazing opportunities for growth.

Edelman: I think that a really big school can be overwhelming. You’re thrown into this environment where you know nobody (at least, if you’re out of state you probably don’t) and have to find the new social group where you fit in. That’s hard and scary for anyone. Having a smaller school makes it easier to form those connections and meet people with similar interests. That being said, mid-size schools also bring more diversity than tiny ones. Small schools also tend to have a narrower range of classes available, so if you want to study subjects far outside your major, a small school probably isn’t the right fit.

Do you have a piece of advice for SHS seniors going through the admissions process?

Melsher: If you really care about a school, get its application done in advance. The earlier, the better. In the end though, no matter where you end up, you have the ability to be successful. It doesn’t matter if you attend your dream school or your backup plan, what you get out of your experience is what you put into it. Never let an admissions office who takes ten seconds to review your application get in the way of your dreams or define your worth.

Maiorana: My biggest piece of advice is to follow your heart. You know deep down what is the best fit for you, look at all the facts and figure out where you will get the best education and feel the most comfortable. It will all work out in the end and you just have to trust that all your hard work will pay off.  

Edelman: Applying for college is important, but it isn’t everything. Senior year is an exciting time, and it shouldn’t be completely surrounded by just stress. This is probably sacrilegious to say in Solon, but you aren’t defined by your grades or the university you attend. Everyone has a college that’s the best fit for them, and finding that niche is far more important than ranking highest on the college acceptance bragging hierarchy. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try in school, but at least give it until second semester before you let the senioritis really set in.

Spurio: My advice is that you weigh your options holistically and wisely. What is it that matters to you most in your school of choice? It’s a scary talk that you have to have with yourself, but it’s also an exciting one. College is what you make of it and you as an individual need to make sure that the school you choose has everything or most of what you want and feel will make you successful. And don’t sweat not getting into your school of choice the first time around, it’s my belief that everything happens for a reason (albeit that is extremely cheesy.)

Even though they have left their high school newspaper behind, Meredith, Hannah, Edward and Chad have all found their fit at their different schools. On behalf of everyone at the Courier, we’d like to wish them the best of luck at college!

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