Natalie Gould ’12
Natalie Gould is a recent graduate of Waterford (Class of 2012). She attended Waterford from Grade 8 through Grade 12 and is now an undergraduate student at Washington University in St. Louis. She is pursuing a PNP degree (philosophy, neuroscience and psychology).
When did you enroll at Waterford?
My family moved to Utah from North Carolina when I was in the 8th grade. I had attended a private school in North Carolina, so when we moved here we visited a few private schools but we really liked Waterford because of the setting. The campus was so beautiful with the mountains and the quads and all the buildings. It felt like a college campus.
What was your first impression?
It was a bit difficult at first because Waterford is such a tight knit community, but everyone was very welcoming. In fact, on my first day, another student invited me to sit with her at lunch. So really, after the first few days it was great. Also, the teachers were very helpful and welcoming.
Describe the Waterford community.
The Waterford community is helpful and collaborative. Everyone is looking out for each other. Everyone wants you to do well. Everyone knows everyone, so if you are having a problem, people try to help you and make sure you are okay. You just know the people here so well, and they are all looking out for you. It is like a family.
Have you stayed in touch with your Waterford friends now that you are off to college?
Absolutely. These are lifelong relationships. And not just my graduating class, but the class before me and the class behind me. The community isn’t just the people your age —
Waterford is small, so you really get to know everyone. It was helpful for me to have friends who were a year older and went to college before me. They gave me great advice, and then I gave advice to my friends who were a year younger.
Describe the faculty/student relationship.
I am not one who would typically seek out a faculty member, but at Waterford, they will approach you. They know you personally. I had so many teachers I could have asked for college recommendations and they were all very enthusiastic and very willing to help. My teachers knew me well. They knew my family. They knew my strengths and my weaknesses. The faculty/student relationship here is phenomenal.
How would you describe a Waterford teacher?
A Waterford teacher cares about their subject deeply. But more importantly, they care about their students. They understand that every student learns differently and they acknowledge that and try to cater their teaching to as many different people as they can. They will explain things in multiple ways and they are always available if you need help. Waterford teachers want you to love learning because they love learning.
Did Waterford help create a love of learning for you?
I chose to apply to some of the most selective, academically challenging colleges because that is what I love. I would be bored somewhere that I wasn’t challenged. At Waterford, you are constantly learning new things and learning new ways to learn. I love that.
Did your experience at Waterford encourage you to take risks or try the impossible?
Yes! Now, I would never say that I can’t do something. I can take on anything that my college gives me. I know that I have been prepared. Sometimes things seem impossible, but one of the things I learned at Waterford is that I can take on challenges. My teachers were there to support me and encourage me. Now, I know that if I work hard, I can succeed at anything.
What personal passions did you discover at Waterford?
I played soccer which was a great experience. I tried racquetball and I loved it. I wasn’t very good, but it was fun. I loved the opportunity to play a sport I would have never tried. Now I still play racquetball for fun. Academically, I was surprised how much I loved chemistry. Mr. Shaw is an incredible teacher and he made it so fun and interesting. I really developed a love of chemistry.
Talk about the arts at Waterford.
I think it is very important to experience the arts along with all the academics. I took theater classes with Mr. Tanner and I loved it. It forces you to be open. You have to really drop your guard. It is a great break from math and science and it is something I would have never tried otherwise.
I also really loved the photography program. My photographs are hanging up all over our house. I experienced so much of Salt Lake City as I was trying to complete various photo assignments. It forces you to see the world in such a different way. [You can see part of Natalie’s senior photography project here]
Your college is very academically challenging. How do you feel that Waterford helped prepare you for that experience?
I was very prepared. College is definitely a step up. There is more work and it is more challenging but Waterford prepared me for the higher thinking that college requires. Some of my peers are really smart, but they didn’t have to work hard in their high schools at all. They were blindsided because they never cultivated those skills. My Waterford experience taught me time management and a good work ethic. I have had great study skills ingrained for years and I definitely credit that to Waterford.
Are there any special moments that stand out in your mind?
We won the state soccer championship 3 out of the 4 years I was at Waterford, so those were all incredible moments!
Talk about diversity at Waterford.
There probably isn’t as much diversity here as other places just because it is Utah, but there are a lot of people here that have come from other states and other countries. There was a definitely an attitude of respect for others’ backgrounds and beliefs. I felt like everyone was very accepting.
Did you have a favorite teacher or subject while you were here?
Well, I loved Chemistry because of Mr. Shaw. He taught me so much, and he made it really fun. He is passionate about teaching and about his subject. I would go home each night and tell my parents stories about blowing up marshmallows and all the other crazy stuff we did in that class, and they would wonder what I learned, but I got a 5 on the AP test. Mr. Shaw taught me how to learn Chemistry. He totally prepared me and he made it fun.
I also wanted to mention JVA (Jan Van Arsdell). I wrote so many essays for his AP U.S. History Class! I didn’t think I could do it, but I learned so much from him. He made History exciting.
I also loved Photo with Mr. Patteson.
I think one of the most important things I learned while I was at Waterford was self-accountability. Students at Waterford are given an incredible opportunity. The teachers here are willing to do anything for you. They believe in you and know that you can do great things, but it is up to you to do the work. At Waterford you are surrounded by people who are also working hard and doing great things – which is inspiring. That is actually why I chose a competitive college, because I wanted to have that same type of community. I want to be surrounded by people who are driven and want to do great things with their lives. That is what I found at Waterford.