Alumni Panel 2022: Meet Our Alumni Panelists!

Our College Counseling Department recently hosted the annual Alumni Panel, a longstanding tradition where SVCS alumni speak to current students about their experience in college. The ups, the downs, the challenges, and of course, the ways in which their experience at Sun Valley Community School helped them as they navigate the college world. This year’s panel included Christine DuFur ‘19 (Sarah Lawrence College), Eden Rose ‘21 (Tulane University), Crosby Boe ‘21(Davidson College), and Jasper Mott ‘20 (USC). Each of these students brought their own experiences to the panel from transferring to doing a semester abroad. They encouraged Cutthroats to keep an open mind, that it’s ok to change your mind, described the process of declaring a major, and that there are different pathways for everyone! We caught up with Eden, Crosby, and Jasper to find out more. 

What has been the biggest surprise about college?
Eden: How friendly people are! People are just as nervous as you to make friends! You meet people literally everywhere!
Crosby: A lot of surprises have come with college, but one of the biggest surprises has been the large variety of different people that I have gotten to meet and know. Everyone has grown up with completely different lives and interests, yet everyone embraces each other’s differences and takes the time to learn about them and become close through them. Having grown up in a small Idaho ski town for my entire life, I have definitely felt different at times but I have been surprised at how open and excited people are to try to understand what our small-town life is like!
Christine: The biggest surprise about college has been that it didn’t fit the mold of my expectations. I had a set idea of what college was like based on movies, social media, etc., but it has turned out to be a unique experience. In creating my own mold of what my college life looked like, I have had opportunities and met people beyond what I could have imagined.
Jasper: The most surprising thing about college, for me, has been people's willingness to meet one another and expand their peer groups. I felt anxious about the process of cultivating a solid group of friends, but it was made easy due to the fact that we were all in the same awkward position of starting fresh. I have found that as long as you’re staying authentic to yourself, while actively starting conversations and branching out socially, it’s very easy to attract like-minded individuals. I have already made some of the best friends of my life during my first three semesters at USC.

What was the best advice you got before going to college (about approaching college? life?)
Eden: This is the time to be the person you wanna be. You are given so many opportunities in college to find your passions. Go out of your comfort zone and try new things! 
Crosby: The best advice that I have gotten and can give about going to college is that the college experience is a time that is solely for you. The opportunity to go, study, and embrace anything and anywhere that you want is so rare. Take advantage of the four years and make it the experience that you want it to be. 
Christine: The best advice I got before college was to get involved in activities/ classes you have loved from high school, but new ones as well. I have found new passions because I have tried new things and taken classes I never would have thought I would like. College is a time to explore and you never know what you might end up loving.
Jasper: My parents have told me my whole life that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” In other words, if you demonstrate an interest in obtaining or achieving something by working hard and going the extra mile, your efforts will likely serve you well. When I was dying to go to USC but unsure of my odds, I was looking for any way possible to be “squeaky.” I poured my heart into every detail of my application, flew to LA to audition for a panel of professors, interviewed with a faculty member, and generally dedicated myself to my classes towards the end of high school. And while these were terrifying steps, I would do it all over again for this outcome. But being “squeaky” can take many different forms, whether in the classroom, on a college campus, or when it comes to being employed. Nevertheless, I believe being “squeaky” can have abundantly “greasy” outcomes!

College in a pandemic... What do you have to say about that? 
Eden: It's definitely not ideal, but my school has made me feel safe and has a proactive approach to addressing covid. 
Crosby: I am fortunate to have entered college as the pandemic was not at its peak. My school has done a great job at tracking covid cases and we have yet to have a large outbreak. All of my classes are in person with masks and the social scene feels like what I would imagine would be considered “normal”. I am grateful to say that it has not had a major impact on my college experience. I know that this varies from school to school though!
Christine: College in a pandemic has been difficult for many reasons. Online school has made it feel like I am a freshman, even though I am academically a junior. I am still navigating the campus and social scene. However, I think it has been a great lesson in a lot of ways. Sometimes life/ college doesn’t go the way you expected and you just have to make the most out of it and go with it. 
Jasper: Despite the weekly Covid tests and mask-wearing in class, I feel very lucky to be here. Acting without the bottom half of my face definitely comes with its challenges! But it beats sitting at my desk in Idaho, delivering lines to the tiny camera on my laptop. Although the circumstances are bizarre, I’m having fun and making the most of it. I just hope my last two years of college (Woah, I feel like I just graduated from SVCS) bring some more normalcy!

What were some of the lessons you learned as a Cutthroat that have served you well in college? 
Eden: I think everyone takes away their own “Cutthroat Experience” but, for me I think the Sun Valley Community School teaches you how to be an individual within a community. When you get to college you will meet people from all walks of life. I think being able to be your genuine self opens the door to meet people who appreciate it! 
Crosby: One of the most beneficial skills that I learned at Community School and have been able to carry into college is the recognition of the importance of taking advantage of your resources. Through my time at Community School, I was able to learn and understand the benefits of taking the time to get extra help, make connections with teachers and people around me, and prioritize time management. These skills have had a huge impact on my success in college and throughout life.
Christine: Being a Cutthroat prepared me well for the academics of college, especially with essay writing. I still use my outline format from Phil Huss’ class. In high school, I was also involved in many extra circulars which helped me to learn time management skills.
Jasper: A significant quality I have fostered and attribute to my decade at SVCS is self-advocacy. We were taught early on to reach out, ask for help, and seek second chances. And although my SVCS teachers are far more accessible than my USC professors, the ability to build relationships with adults in an academic environment has sometimes meant the difference between a passing and failing grade for me. SVCS teachers have taught me to take accountability and strive for improvement, which is why I feel so comfortable communicating with my professors. Especially when balancing my commitment to theatre with my academics, it was sometimes difficult to keep up with school work. However, the constant encouragement from SVCS faculty to persevere has certainly helped me to be diligent in all aspects of my life. In many ways, we were treated as adults at SVCS. Whether in the classroom, on the stage, or in the backcountry, being a Cutthroat gave me so much agency to capitalize on my strengths and build upon my weaknesses.

What do you miss most about being in the valley and being at SVCS? 
Eden: I think we really look over the outdoor trips when leaving and moving on to college. When explaining the 10th grade coast trip to my friends they sorta look at me funny and flood me with questions. “Do you go with your teachers?” “You know how to start a fire?” We never think twice at community school about these things because they are our norm. They are what makes a community so special. 
Crosby: I miss a lot of things about Sun Valley and SVCS, but it’s still my home and I know that I will always get to spend time there. I miss the mountains and the thousands of activities that we can do out our back door. I also miss the small connections that you have and make with everyone throughout town. But, while I miss all of these things and more about Sun Valley, I know that they will always be there and that I am currently exploring and finding new things that I will probably miss someday.
Christine: I truly wish I would have appreciated the valley and SVCS more when I was a student. I knew I was lucky to experience such an amazing place and school, but I was very future-oriented. The school was my home and the people there were my family. I miss feeling that sense of security and comfortability.
Jasper: Without a doubt, I miss the sense of community and camaraderie that was present at SVCS and within the valley at large. I miss rejoicing as a student body during Engl Cup, skiing with faculty and my peers on powder days, coming together for rehearsals in the theatre, and even simply greeting other cutthroats in the hallways on campus. There’s such an unprecedented bond between students and their teachers at SVCS that you don’t see at any other school. Namely, I’m thankful for people like Elliot Jacobs, Hannes Thum, Pilar Lindahl, Anne Aganon, and Kevin and Connor Wade who were pivotal and adherent to my success at SVCS. I feel so privileged to have grown up in such a beautiful place, and feel even luckier to have gone to a school that lets us explore the valley and beyond to the fullest extent.

Favorite classes to date (in college)? 
Eden: I just started classes! I’m excited for my Native American Anthropology class! We actually are learning about the Shoshone- Bannock people who are native to the Wood River Valley!
Crosby: ​​I took a writing class in the fall semester called Buddhism and Violence. Through this
class, we studied the past and current-day violence taking place in Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Myanmar. I was able to write multiple essays that argued why the violence that these countries are using in an attempt to “protect” Buddhism is actually the biggest threat to Buddhism because of the controversial role that violence plays within Buddhist values. I loved this class Christine: My favorite classes I have taken have all been in the psychology/ science fields (if high school me heard that she would be very surprised). Notably, I have loved ‘Finding Happiness and How to Keep it’ (psych/neuroscience) and ‘Drugs and the Brain’ (psych/neuroscience).
Jasper: The first time I felt connected to my work as an actor at USC was during a class titled Introduction to Scene Study and Contemporary Plays. Every two weeks we were given a new scene to rehearse with a partner, and by the end of the week, we got to perform them in front of the whole class. The objective was to critique one another, run the scenes over and over until we delivered an authentic performance, and generally learn from each other's choices as actors. Subjecting myself to this kind of constructive criticism felt like a turning point for my approach to acting, as it helped me slow down and reconsider my process. My favorite scene was from Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, in which I played a man named George who’s navigating a hostile and complicated marriage with his wife Martha. It was something completely new for me, but I was able to exercise my ability to be a snarky old man which was very fun! 
                     
Best advice you have for those heading to college in the near future. 
Eden: Personally I have found that if you want to succeed you need to find balance! Time management is really important when you are in college and making sure you balance your social life and school work! 
Crosby: When choosing colleges, try not to get caught up in what others may think and the prestige of the school, focus on where you may see that all aspects of who you are as a person can flourish.
Christine: Don’t be too hard on yourself, but still hold yourself accountable. Everything will always work out and you will learn lessons along the way. There isn’t a set mold of what you should do/ experience. Put yourself first and try to not compare your life to anyone else's. Soak it all in. 
Jasper: A piece of advice that I would like to impart upon anybody about to embark on their college journey is this: the squeaky wheel gets the grease! Get out there, work hard, subject yourself to unfamiliar situations, and college will be phenomenal.