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Alumni Panels Inspire Scottsdale Prep to Dream Big

Scottsdale PrepScottsdale Prep January 25, 2024 -

Scottsdale Prep high school students celebrated their return from winter break with the annual Alumni Panel, where 20 graduates of the Great Hearts Academy returned to share stories, antidotes, and advice from their own experience in various levels of continued education. Spread out across four different sessions, current students had the opportunity to gain insight from those who have gone before them and ask the burning questions they had about the upcoming college years.

The alumni returned from in-state schools such as University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and Grand Canyon University, as well as out-of-state colleges like Texas A&M, Lewis and Clark, the University of Southern California, not to mention ivy leagues schools like Harvard and Princeton.

Past students speaking in front of current students during the Alumni Panel at Scottsdale Prep

“I definitely remember sitting in the audience and being very stressed about like all the different kinds of questions,” recalled one of the panelists, Rosie Eden, who is a junior at Princeton.

The questions from current students ranged from picking the right major to balancing social life with school demands, and what opportunities they could pursue now to help them in college. And the thoughtful and honest answers given by the panel held a great deal of weight for the current students. They were talking to adults who had stood in the very same uniforms years before. Long enough to know a life away from Scottsdale Prep, yet recent enough that they understood exactly how it felt as juniors and seniors in high school.

Organizer Monica Ware, a college counselor at Scottsdale Prep, was pleased with the event. “Our Annual Alumni Panel is a fantastic way to start the semester as our high school students see what life looks like after Scottsdale Prep. This year was no exception as we had alumni of all graduation years, even those who had graduated 9 years ago on our panels,” said Ware.

Past students speaking in front of current students during the Alumni Panel at Scottsdale Prep

Many praised the education they received at Great Hearts for helping them adjust to a new workload at college. “They reflected that because our curriculum is rigorous and unique, our current students are able to relate to the alumni and see how the solid foundation of our curriculum prepares them for college and beyond,” said Ware.

As beneficial as it was for the current students, the day also served as a full-circle moment for the alumni and served as a good reminder of the excellent education they received. “It felt really good to be able to give these high schoolers advice on what the college experience is like,” said Alex Arust, who is majoring in Criminology and Criminal Justice at ASU Barrett, the Honors College.

“As I walked in the door today it was like a rush of nostalgia,” said Sydney Restino, who graduated Scottsdale Prep in 2020 and now attends ASU. “It’s a very humbling experience, I think, to remember that this is where I started. But it’s also important to recognize that everything I learned here got me to where I am right now. Had Great Hearts not pushed me academically, socially, and athletically, I wouldn’t have the opportunities I’ve had at ASU. It really has awarded me the opportunity to speak eloquently and effectively with a group of my peers, to disagree, to challenge myself mathematically. I wouldn’t have been able to do that had I not gone to Great Hearts and so being back, it’s been really fun to see where it all started and be like, ‘I remember I sat here in the lunchroom. I was in the theater there.’ Leaving Scottsdale Prep teaches you how much it taught you and makes you much more grateful for the experience you had.”

Past students speaking in front of current students during the Alumni Panel at Scottsdale Prep

“Our students and parents who attended were inspired by what are alumni are doing and asked questions that gave insight into how their future can look due to the preparation they receive at Scottsdale Prep,” said Ware. “We are thankful for our alumni taking the time to inspire our students to dream big and rely on the supportive community that is always cheering them on at Great Hearts.”

Do you have a story or know of a story that you would like to see featured at Great Hearts?  Please contact jason.moore@greathearts.org