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Emma Sindelar ’11

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Emma is a graduate of Swarthmore College, located just outside of Philadelphia. When did you come to Waterford and why did you choose Waterford as your school?
I started at Waterford in the Nursery Twos program so I obviously didn’t have much of a say in terms of where I went to school, but my parents chose Waterford because they were looking for a private school that was close to home and Waterford had a great reputation.

What has been the most meaningful impact that Waterford has had on you?
My time at Waterford impacted me above all in teaching me about the importance of community. Waterford is such a small and close-knit community, and especially having been there for 16 years, I always felt surrounded by an extended family of friends, teachers, and administrators. That atmosphere is something I looked for during my college search and it’s also something that I think will follow me, even after college.

What passions did you find at Waterford that you may not have discovered elsewhere (photo, theater, dance, robotics, birding, Shakespeare, ceramics, tennis, outdoor, lacrosse, etc.)?
I’ve played soccer all my life and that was a passion that I pursued throughout my time at Waterford, but the violin was a passion that I uniquely discovered at Waterford. I started playing the violin when I was in 2nd grade because I wanted to learn how to play an instrument, and figured I might as well get going on the violin because everyone had to learn in 4th or 5th grade anyway. Little did I know how integral it would become to my Waterford career. I was in orchestra, chamber orchestra, and different quartets all through middle and upper school, and I went on the orchestra tour of China with Mrs. Morris. People outside of Waterford are always surprised about how central orchestra was to my education experience, but I think that class was something that all of us looked forward to during the day and that all of us have carried with us, whether we’re still practicing our instrument or not.

Did you have a favorite teacher or more than one? Why?
My two favorite teachers at Waterford would have to be Nancy Woller and Kelley Heuston, although both of them influenced me in very different ways. I have such great memories of AP Calculus with Mrs. Woller and I learned so much. She really pushed me in a subject that I had never considered to be my strongest, although I came to genuinely enjoy it by the end of the year. She also perfectly manages the balance between teacher and friend which I really admire. I think I spent less time in actual classes with Ms. Heuston, but the few classes I did take with her kick-started my passion for social justice and civic awareness. I very distinctly remember my middle school class with her where we talked about Gandhi and his work in India, Nelson Mandela and apartheid in South Africa, and the history of Native Americans in the United States. Learning about those stories was the first time that I really had a feeling of what I was passionate about and that class, along with her Civil Rights class, have influenced me to this day as far as what I want to do with the rest of my life.

Did Waterford prepare you well for college and life beyond?
My college experience has definitely been harder academically than Waterford, but Waterford was undoubtedly a rigorous preparation for the intensity that I met in college. Although when I arrived at college I had a lot more work expected of me, it wasn’t overwhelming or paralyzing because Waterford had taught me how to work hard and how to apply myself in order to accomplish those things that needed to be done. Also, my education at Waterford prepared me amazingly in terms of writing. By the time I arrived at college I had already developed my own writing style, and I’ve felt more than ready for all the papers and essays that have been expected of me.

What College/University did you attend?
Swarthmore College, located just outside of Philadelphia. 

What culminating experience(s) helped you select your school?
Swarthmore has a student body of about 1,600 people. Whenever I tell people that, they’re shocked at how small it is, but then I remind them that I went to a high school of about 200 people. In choosing a school I was definitely looking for a similarly small community with rigorous academics. I also wanted to try out the East coast, be near a major city, and play soccer in college. All of those criteria kind of came together at Swat. I also really liked the social awareness emphasis and the corresponding atmosphere that exists here.

How did you decide on your major? What do you hope to accomplish with your degree?
I’m a double major in political science and French, but I actually want to go into education. I chose political science because I’ve always been interested in civic engagement and how it can be utilized to effect change. On the French side of things, I’ve been learning the language since 6th grade at Waterford and I wanted to keep it up, plus I’ve always wanted to study abroad. Based on requirements, it kind of just made sense to turn that into a French major. With my political science and French majors, I want to go in a slightly different direction and work in education. I decided I was interested in working with kids a little too late in my college career to switch majors, and I still really enjoy what I’m studying, but eventually I want to be working with disadvantaged kids.

What would be your dream job after school?
Right now I’m really interested in doing some kind of AmeriCorps program for a year, hopefully working with elementary-age kids, one-on-one in a sort of tutoring or after-school program that attempts to bridge the gap between the support that kids need and what’s actually provided by our education system.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I definitely see myself returning to the West. I’m glad that I came out to Philly for school and I’ve had a great experience in the East but it’s also made me realize that I miss the outdoors and the more laid back mentality of the West. I’d also like to go back to school eventually and hopefully specialize in something more education-oriented. Other than that, I’d just hope to be working with young kids in some capacity!

Words to live by?
“We’re all the same. We all feel pain. We all have chaos in our lives. Life is very, very confusing. But… It will all be ok.”