Sasha - A Unique ASH Experience

Meet Sasha, Class of 2018, Alum:
Sasha is part of the lucky few alumni who are bestowed the “longevity” title - someone who studied at ASH from elementary school all the way to graduation, a unique experience for an international school student. His memories of ASH reflect the diversity of our programs and experiences throughout the grade levels; from the eyes of a young kindergarten learner to that of a knowledgeable, eager graduate, now in his third year at Stanford University. 

What is the general framework of when you were at ASH and a special memory?
I was at ASH for all of my schooling - I started in Kindergarten (K2) and stayed until my senior year in Grade 12. I have so many special memories of ASH, it's a hard question for me to single out just one. I have so many. 

In kindergarten, my teacher knew I loved rice krispy treats, and she would make some for me all the time! In first grade, our teacher Ms. Powers told us she had superpowers and that's why her last name was Ms. Powers. I have memories of all my teachers over the years; Mr. Reinburg, Mrs. Penello, Mrs. Shover, Mr. Flaim, Mr. Kremer, Mr. Ruiz. And of course, the science experiments Dr. Penello would do with us! They were AWESOME! I still think back to those experiments, and part of me always wants to recreate them because I just had such great memories of (doing) them. I feel like after 12 years, I have so many bonds with so many teachers, for different reasons.

I think the project trips in middle school were amazing. The time we got to spend with friends and making unique memories is irreplaceable. This is especially true for Project 8! Going on the trip after a year of bonding with your teachers and classmates made Project 8 such a uniquely amazing trip. I also have fond memories of helping Bob and Rob (in Athletics) organize scorekeepers on weekends, and helping set up NECIS and ISST tables during tournaments was another thing I loved doing at ASH. 

Another thing I LOVED about ASH was international day. When I was younger, all the classes would be decorated, and you got to go from one class to another learning about different cultures, getting stamps on your "passport", trying fun foods, and having a day to immerse yourself in different cultures. It was awesome! 

Another special memory is the parade of students singing Santa Lucia came down the hallway... it felt magical! It was like Christmas! And lastly, our school song. I would be lying if I said I didn't listen to it recently because it was stuck in my head and I was feeling super nostalgic. I think being at ASH in general is an amazing memory.

How was your #ASHexperience? How did your experience shape your path?
I would say my #ASHexperience was genuinely pretty great. Like all experiences, there were ups and downs. But looking back at it now, I am shocked by all the amazing opportunities ASH offered us. ASH is so diverse, and culturally rich, which I didn't realize was so unique. Talking to my friends in college now, many went to homogenous highschools (pretty much all students were american, had never left america, etc). I think ASH really prepared me to thrive in a diverse environment, to have an open mind, embrace a growth mindset, and be willing to learn new things. 

I would also say the teachers at ASH are generally pretty amazing! We have very talented teachers. And I realize that may sound weird to say, but for example, one of my friends did not learn calculus in high school because their district could not find a math teacher who knew how to teach calculus. He had to take community college classes to learn math beyond algebra. Like we would never even think of that happening at ASH, which shows how privileged we were to go to ASH and how dedicated ASH is to our success. I definitely think there are places the school could improve, but ASH still remains one of the best schools you could ask to go to. 

I would say that ASH always bolstered my interests. Whether that was learning about cooking, learning about art/construction, learning about music, trying out sports, learning new subjects, you could always find a club at ASH there to help you with it. I don't think I would have ever learned jazz had it not been for Mr. Yarnell. I would not know how to sew if it weren't for Ms. Spradling. I wouldn't know anything about set design if it weren't for Ms. Kular and Hans. And because of that, ASH really helped me be a full rounded person when it comes to interests and hobbies. It has greatly helped me succeed and reach where I am today.

What words can you share about meaningful learning, to our current students?
During my time at college, the classes I have truly enjoyed the most and the classes I learned the most from were classes where I really took the time to get to know the professor, to learn the material, and delve into the topic. If you find a class that you are genuinely excited to go to, or you have a teacher who you genuinely like learning from, that's when you know you've found your groove. When you find something that is meaningful to you, taking the time to learn is so easy. I think that's what I didn't realize in high school. I never took the time myself to make learning meaningful. I had homework - so I did it. I never stopped to think there could be a more fun/profound element to learning that comes with meaningful learning.

Where are you today and what are you pursuing?
I am currently in my 3rd year of my BS in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration on Product Realization at Stanford University and I am exploring lots of different venues. Last year I interned at a food robotics company, now I am at a VC firm. I am very passionate about startup culture, entrepreneurship, and challenging the norm. I hope to one day have my own startup, but as of right now, I do not know what that would be. I'm also involved in entrepreneurship clubs, solar car club, and work for a non-profit called the Farmlink Project, started by Stanford and Brown university students.

How have you navigated university life and COVID?
Looking back I was genuinely very excited to start college. I took a gap year before, so I was a bit anxious about getting back to school because I was worried I had forgotten too much, or that I wouldn't fit in because I was older. But none of that happened. I think university has been a great time for me to try out new subjects, and really take the time to learn about things I want to learn about. I took cooking classes, art classes, energy classes, chemistry+physics classes, writing classes, etc. I have taken a whole variety of classes because they sounded cool and I wanted to try them out. So if your school permits it, I definitely recommend taking classes that aren't for your major. It's a great way to learn about things and meet people you wouldn't have otherwise. 
When it comes to COVID, that's a bit harder. I've really tried to not stress too much about it because there is so much I can't control. So I take things one day at a time. I appreciate the things I am able to do, and try to do the most with my time. I sometimes fall into the pit of being overcommitted with clubs and classes until the point where I no longer see friends or have time to exercise, but I've been much more conscious about not doing that recently. I think it's important to remember that yes you went to college for an education, but don't forget to meet people. Make connections. Talk to your professors. Talk to strangers. College is a time to try new things and experiment! Worst case, you embarrassed yourself in front of someone you'll never see again. Best case, you just made a new friend for life.

We have a diverse community of students, staff, and families from around the world. Each member of our community brings their own story that enriches the #ASHexperience.