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Davidson Academy Alumni Video Transcript

The following transcript is for the Davidson Academy Alumni Video.


Justin Stevens, Class of 2016, University of Alberta: I moved from Louisville, Kentucky to come here when I was 12 or 13. I think the biggest part of the reason I moved was when I got associated with the Davidson Academy through the Young Scholars program so I had come to a Summit here and had already toured the school and was a big fan of it, and the biggest part of the reason I came here was the Personalized Learning Plan, which really let me go at a slower pace in English and History and subjects I found more difficult, and really accelerate in math and science and other subjects I found fascinating.

Ming Li Wu, Class of 2017, Harvard University: The reason my family started thinking about it is because I was getting close to high school and my parents were running out of options in terms of homeschooling, and the public school system in Alabama is one of the worst in the country so I wasn’t super excited about that.

Vandana Ravikumar, Class of 2016, Arizona State University: I came here because my brothers already went here and I could see how much they enjoyed the flexibility of what they could do.

Arturo Guzman, Class of 2015, Rice University: The Davidson Academy gives you a lot more freedom in terms of what classes you can take and how you go about your education. That’s something that I really liked and that’s why I ended up coming here.

Vandana: If you could keep charging ahead in one subject, you were allowed to do that here and so that’s something I really appreciated and wanted to do for myself.

Hadyn Bradstreet, Class of 2017, Harvard University: I was getting a little bit angsty about the perceived possible lack of educational opportunities in Las Vegas and here it just seemed like a nice, smaller school with those opportunities, so that’s why I came.

Ming Li: It seemed like a place where I could find people who were passionate the same way I was about academics, but were also the same age as me.


Haydn: The teachers are very much dedicated to your individual learning in a way I hadn’t seen before.

Arturo: The smallness of size caters to being able to build a very cohesive community.

Vandana: They still remembered what I was like when I first came to the Academy and they saw how much I had changed while I was here and they really facilitated that growth for me. And, they watched it very closely and they know that they were helping me to become a better person.

Justin: I remember in particular my first year I struggled a lot with OCD and a speech impediment, and other things along those lines and people really took the time to step aside and help me get counseling and support and testing and stuff that really helped me grow throughout my time at the Academy. I think that was the biggest surprise for me.

Haydn: At the Academy, they make sure that you’re focused on learning the material and also on the skills that are important for you to learn, rather than just getting through x many PowerPoints and answering x many quizzes.


Ming Li: One of my favorite memories is taking British Literature my freshman year. We got very into the book Grendel and our teacher was like “oh, ok, we can spend some more time on this since you really like it” which was something I hadn’t really seen before in my schooling outside of Davidson.

Justin: I was very involved with math club here which we always did the Interstellar  competition (Art of Problem Solving)  that I remember being a lot of fun and just had lots of fun Countdown Rounds (Mathcounts)  and other competitions. I was also involved on the Davidson Academy basketball team that played from my ninth grade to twelfth grade years and despite not winning a single game, except in the 3-on-3 play, it was just something that fostered a lot of team spirit and community and whatnot.

Vandana: I was also involved in a couple of clubs that I had leadership roles in and I really appreciated the opportunity to kind of pursue my own direction with leading a group of people, or working together to solve some sort of problem, or work on some sort of project. I really, some of my best memories came out of those situations.

Ming Li: My favorite aspect of the Academy has definitely been the teachers. They are all so passionate about helping students learn and making that learning interesting, and engaging and fun.

Arturo: I also really enjoyed the things we did in class like in the physics class I just really liked all of the projects we did. We made hot air balloons and then we went out to one of the quads on the university and let them go to see high they could go. I thought that was so fun!

Ming Li:  I think that something a lot of gifted students run into is being given busy work at other schools because people are like “oh, you can do this work so quickly, here is more work to do”, which is not really conducive to learning. It’s very different here and I really appreciated that.

Haydn: I think one thing, that in retrospect I really appreciate, but maybe was not so appreciative when I started was the intensity of the writing program.  I think coming into the Davidson Academy, I was very much STEM. I liked reading, but I didn’t want to touch an essay at all. I hated writing, because I didn’t know what to say or how to say it. Davidson has a very quick way of beating that out of you. (Laughter)


Ming Li: The writing at Davidson is definitely one of the most helpful things in terms of college preparation.

Arturo: The Davidson Academy really helped me with being prepared and understanding what this is. It presented me with challenging coursework and then gave me the time to figure out how to deal with it and how to study for it and things like that. Going into college, I was a little bit more prepared to handle the workload.

Ming Li: Knowing how to approach challenging coursework is something we do a lot here at Davidson, and so even when I have faced obstacles, I’ve known where to look for resources, who to ask for help, how to manage my time, things like that.

Vandana: I go to Arizona State University and it’s a really big university, but some of my classes have still been pretty small especially within the Journalism school. And, some of my peers sometimes they don’t always know how to approach the professor for help because they’ve never really been in setting where they can receive individualized attention and stuff like that, so that’s really new to them. Or, working on a problem together with their peers in a really collaborative way, that’s also something that can be new to a lot of them. And so that’s something that I’ve been able to introduce to other people and help them break in to, it’s helped me a lot in college too to be able to know how to reach out in that way.

Justin: I got really involved in the University my last couple of years and I’m really grateful for that opportunity, because my senior year I was meeting regularly with a math professor as well and those, all those experiences, both taking classes at a University level and being very involved in the University-like setting helped a lot when I transitioned to the University of Alberta, just this past winter.

Haydn: If you find yourself unsatisfied with a course that you’re in, all it takes is a search on the course catalog to see if there happens to be a UNR class that’s maybe just a little higher level that you’re interested in taking. I think that is really nice, that you are able to pursue challenge. It definitely prepares you for going into actual college where your classes are that challenging.


Justin: I always will think of Reno as that kind of home base so whenever I’m back here I always love connecting with fellow alumni and whatnot. We have a specific group chat which features 13 or 14 alumni that we still talk on an almost daily basis. I am really super grateful for all the friendships I made here.

Vandana: My close circle of friends that I had here all through all of those years when we went through the hard stuff together and had a lot of hard conversations about where our lives were going or things we were experiencing at the time, I think they are still my biggest support network. We still talk every day.

Haydn: I enjoy being reflective now with my group of friends, and I’m not sure I would have learned those skills or been as comfortable in those small, sometimes intense, social situations, if I hadn’t come here and gotten so used to being close to people.

Ming Li: When I came to Davidson, I was very shy and quiet to the point that many of the adults in my life were actively worried about my well-being. I was fine, I just didn’t really like talking to people or understand how to do that in a way that I was comfortable with. The staff at Davidson dedicated so much time to helping me open up, and speak up more both in and out of class. I think being in a small school environment was also really helpful for that, because I got very comfortable with everyone here. I knew the names of every single student. Now that I’m in a bigger place, I have the confidence that I need to participate in my college community.


Arturo: The past year I spent traveling quite a bit. Last summer, I spent six weeks in Korea, in South Korea, with a language program learning Korean. In the fall, I studied abroad in Madrid, Spain and there I was learning, I took some Spanish classes but mainly some engineering courses. I’ve gotten to spend my time traveling quite a bit, which I thought was rather nice.

Ming Li: Some of the things I’ve been involved in are a lot of different poetry events, and I’ve had some work in an actual art gallery, which was very exciting! And, I am studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina this summer.

Justin: I do a lot of stuff with both math teaching and math curriculum development. I help a couple of companies, mainly in California, to teach students or help build curriculum for them, which I really enjoy. I think for future career aspirations I really want to stay in the University setting for a while. I’m planning to go through master’s, Ph.D. and whatnot.

Vandana: I want to be a journalist. I’m not really sure what specialization or anything like that, but this fall I’m going to go to Washington, D.C. for the semester to work in Cronkite News’ D.C. bureau so I’ll be reporting from Capitol Hill and I’ll see what I’ll do with that. I haven’t gotten my beat yet, but I could do education or health or something like that.

Haydn: Right now I work in a lab in Cambridge that does lung regeneration research, which I really enjoy. I worked with them last summer and continued through the school year. This summer I am going to, or I have the great opportunity to go to Germany to work on plant stem cell research, which is I don’t know it’s, I think it’s really cool. It might be a little bit niche, but I think it’s really cool.


Ming Li: One of the things about Davidson that has been very impactful for me, in terms of where I’ve ended up, has been the sheer number of opportunities students have here. Partially because it’s on a college campus, we have access to a lot of UNR’s resources, but then also just because the teachers here are so willing to help students purse their passions.

Vandana: I would say ask for help if you need it in anything. There are people who are here for you whether it’s a counselor or a teacher or your friends. No one will know that you need help if you don’t ask for it.

Haydn: I do maybe want to caution people to make sure you know what you’re getting into because it’s not going to be all roses. I mean yes, your teachers are going to care about you ‘til the end of the earth, your classes are going to be really small and the educational opportunities are great, but you also have to put the work in. There are going to be times when it’s really tough, when you are going to have to deal with things you didn’t think you were going to have to deal with, so as long as you are ready for that challenge you’re going to grow and be better for it, I think.

Justin: I don’t think I could imagine my life without the Davidson Academy. I think it’s played such a huge part of who I am and how I’ve grown up throughout the past seven or eight years. I’m really grateful that I’ve had all the opportunities that I had here and that I was able to integrate myself in the community. The high school years are a big part of finding your identity and discovering a lot of stuff about yourself and I’m really glad I did it in an environment like the Davidson Academy.

Narrator: To learn more, visit the Academy’s website or contact us today.