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Transitioning to HW

By Cionnie ’22

Prior to attending Harvard-Westlake, I was completely unaware of how much my life could change in the matter of months. I grew up attending public charter schools in East Los Angeles where the student bodies were predominantly Latinx and Black. Everywhere I looked, I saw faces who looked like mine, people living in similar circumstances and walking similar paths of life. I was also used to being one of the students who was at the top of their class and who was held as the example for everyone else. I worked incredibly hard to receive admission into Harvard-Westlake and I was intimidated by its reputation as an academically rigorous institution. Going into my first day as a wolverine was both nerve-wracking and exciting for these reasons.

I came to learn that I was not alone in feeling this way when I participated in Fast Start, a one week program that Harvard-Westlake offers to new students. It is a week full of fun and connecting with other new and returning wolverines. I met a lot of my current friends at Fast Start and many returning students eased my fears prior to the first day of school. In addition to Fast Start, Harvard-Westlake also supports students emotionally and socially, particularly in their first couple of weeks as they adjust to a new school. New students are put in advisory groups with faculty that meet continuously and deans check in with students regularly. Overall, fellow HW students and faculty make sure you know you are not alone in the process.

My transition was both challenging and rewarding. I was new to the environment and I had to face the culture shock that came with it. I had to adjust academically because Harvard-Westlake pushes you to become better students and better learners. However, in the last three years that I have been a wolverine, I have met so many amazing people and I have created forever lasting friendships. I have been able to meet adults that push me not only academically, but also push me as an advocate for social justice, an artist, a speaker, and a leader. During my time at Harvard-Westlake, I have cultivated a strong love for learning and a drive to leave an impact on not only our HW community, but also the world. While the transition was a little challenging in the beginning, how welcoming the community was allowed me to feel like I belonged. Since day one, I have always felt like a true wolverine and so incredibly proud to be one.

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Tags: , Last modified: December 1, 2020