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A filmmaker, activist, and aspiring dermatologist : A look at the incoming students of 2018

This year Westminster College welcomes 443 new students to campus. These first-year and transfer students represent 33 states, 18 countries and come from all walks of life. Of those who chose to disclose, approximately 63 percent are female identifying and 37 percent are male identifying. Here is a glimpse at a some of the faces joining the Westminster community this fall.

The Forum interviewed five incoming students about the upcoming year and their responses have been lightly edited for clarity and conciseness.

Anthony Giorgio

Anthony Giorgio, 18, is from West Jordan, Utah. He said he loves playing the guitar and is passionate about writing. His work includes original poetry, stories and even a film script. He said he writes all of the time and hopes to one day do it for a living.

Anthony Giorgio enjoys the summer weather in Richer Commons on Aug. 4. Giorgio is a writer, musician and incoming member of the Honors College. (Photo by Marina McTee)

Q: Why did you choose Westminster?

A: The campus is gorgeous. It’s a small school with engaged faculty. My high school was a pretty small school so I discovered that I like that vibe.

The deciding thing was when I sent in my Honors application. I came back not only with a signature from the Dean that wasn’t just printed on — a wet ink signature — and a handwritten note responding to my essay and I was like, ‘Okay, this is the place for me.’

Q: Are you excited about joining the Honors College?

A: Very. I’m interested in the interdisciplinary coursework and curious about what the rest of my cohort is like.

Q: Do you know what you’re planning on majoring in yet?

A: I’m exploring English and business and communication and that sort of arena, but I haven’t declared anything yet.

Q: Is there anything you’re excited about at Westminster aside from academics?

A: I heard there is a jazz ensemble. I’m curious to check out the Black Student Union, and all of the service opportunities there are through student learning. I’m really excited for May Term, it seems like a really cool thing.

Q: You said you were excited for the Jazz Ensemble, do you play an instrument?

A: I play guitar, and I love jazz music. I would like to be better at jazz guitar than I am. I played through high school, but I was never in an ensemble or anything.

Q: How did you get involved in writing and filmmaking?

A: I always wanted to make a movie, and I had sort of dabbled in writing screenplays. My freshman year of high school, I met this junior and he was a really talented visual artist. […] So I was talking to him and I was like, ‘Hypothetically, I do words, you do pictures, you put them together and you kind of have a movie.’ […] So we started writing a screenplay, and my sophomore year we filmed a feature length film that we are still editing.

Q: Is filmmaking something you’re hoping to continue here?

A: Yes, I met [another student] who loves filmmaking and he’s wanted to start a filmmaking club ever since he started at Westminster. […] So we wanted to see if we could do that this year.

Q: Is there anything that you’re nervous about?

A: I intend to work through school, so I’m just keeping tabs on my mental health and making sure I’m not burning myself out. That’s kind of my main concern. I’m not really that nervous, just excited.

Faith Staley

Faith Staley, 18, is an avid activist and said she is excited for all of the opportunities that Westminster has to engage in politics. Staley, who is from Park City, Utah, also said she is looking forward to receiving what she sees as a progressive and diverse education from Westminster.

Faith Staley, originally from Park City, Utah, is an incoming political science major and helped organize the March For Our Lives at Park City High. (Photo courtesy of Faith Staley)

Q: Why did you choose Westminster?

A: I chose Westminster because I like the small community and that it’s a liberal arts college. Also the poli-sci program is really good, and I’m interested in politics and activism. The only other place I applied was the [University of Utah] and Westminster seemed like a much better place to work on that kind of thing.

Q: Why political science?

A: I was the president of the Gay Straight Alliance at Park City High, and we have this class called ‘social change’ where we did a lot of activism work. We organized the walk out for gun control and the March For Our Lives […] in that class. In those few places, I was able to realize that activism is where I need to be. That is the only work that I think I’ll really truly be fulfilled with.

Q: How are you hoping in engage in politics and activism at Westminster?

A: I know that there are a lot of identity based clubs at Westminster like Alphabet Soup and Students for Choice […]. I definitely want to get involved with clubs and stuff.

I’m really excited to do justice studies and poli-sci classes and learn how everything relates and how it can bring ativism into different laws.

Q: What are some of your interests outside of school?

A: I was a dancer for a long time so I still want to dance. I am looking forward to taking some recreational dance classes somewhere down in Salt Lake.

Both of my parents where ski teachers, so I love to ski. A bunch of my best friends are moving close to here, so I’m excited to be able to visit them but also have a space to make new friends.

Q: Even though Park City and Salt Lake City are close, how do you feel about moving?

A: I’m actually really excited. Since I got my driver’s license I’ve been coming down here more often. Especially this last year and summer I’ve really been exploring Salt Lake more than when I was younger and I like it a lot. I’m really excited to live in Sugar House.

Q: Is there anything else you want people to know about you?

A: I will drive anyone to Planned Parenthood.

Aurora Allen

Aurora Allen, 18, said she loves rock climbing, and is looking forward to come to Westminster with her best friend. Last March, Allen was sponsored to attend the national March For Our Lives in Washington D.C.

Aurora Allen attends the national March For Our Lives in Washington D.C. Allen hopes to one day become a doctor and is majoring in biology. (Photo courtesy of Aurora Allen).

Q: Why did you choose Westminster?

A: I really like the [small] class sizes, and I really like how the professors interact with students. I’ve sat in a couple of the classes and learned some interesting stuff. I also like Sugar House, it’s pretty adorable.

Q: Do you know what you want to major in yet?

A: I want to be a biology major on a pre-med track. […] I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, preferably a dermatologist, […] but I guess I can’t really know yet because I haven’t experienced all of the fields.

Q: What are you excited for at Westminster outside of academics?

A: I can’t wait for the leadership opportunities that Westminster will provide. Also, the connections I’ll build through Westminster in the medical field and the political spectrum, which I’m relatively active in.

Q: You said you were politically active, what do you mean by that?

A: I’ve volunteered on campaigns in the past, and I was one of the planners for the Salt Lake March For Our Lives.

Q: How did you get involved in that?

A: I was the social media director of the Young Democrats of Brighton High School, and the vice president and I got involved in planning the March For Our Lives through our club.

Q: What are you hoping to do in the political realm while at Westminster?

A: I’m just hoping that I can become connected to a political group and meet some people that are both like-minded and not like-minded that I can have discussions with.

Q: Is there a way that you’re hoping to connect your activism with your major?

A: Not that I can think of yet, but I’m sure that there will be a way eventually. I’m kind of hoping that once I’m a doctor I can do something like Doctors Without Borders.

Q: Are you excited about living in a new area even though you’re from Salt Lake?

A: I’m so excited. Sugar House is so much better than Cottonwood Heights in terms of diversity […]. I’m very, very excited for the change of scene.

Sophia Cutrubus

Sophia Cutrubus, 18, is from Ogden, Utah and graduated from Rowland Hall High School. She said she is excited for opportunities to try new things, such as rock climbing, and to combine her love of dance and science here at Westminster.

Sophia Cutrubus fishes by the Green River in Aug. of 2016. Cutrubus is a Utah native and plans to double major in dance and biology. (Photo courtesy of Sophia Cutrubus)

Q: Why did you choose to come to Westminster?

A: I liked that it was a small liberal arts college. I was looking at some colleges out of state and I was just really excited about being in a college that was small with an atmosphere where I knew my professors were going to care about what I had to say, and where students were inclined to learn.

Q: Do you know what you’re planning on majoring in yet?

A: I’m hoping to double major in dance and biology. I might end up going on the pre-med track but we will see. Time will tell.

Q: How long have you been dancing and how did you get involved in it?

A: I started dancing as a freshman in high school. I’ve really only trained at Rowland Hall. When I was in junior high, I was apart of a competition cheer team, and when I went to Rowland Hall they didn’t have a cheer team. Dance was the next best thing and I fell in love with it and the community of dancers that I had there. I didn’t want to give it up in college. Being at auditions  here and knowing a few dancers here, I fully expect to find the same kind of community.

Q: How did you get interested in biology?

A: Just taking biology classes in high school. I think part of it is also from the dance aspect. I am really interested in how the body works and moves. It’s just really interesting to me.

Q: Is there anything else about yourself you’d like us to know?

A: I did inclusion and equity work at my high school, so I’m excited about continuing that here.

Brynn Sayler

Brynn, 18, is originally from Missoula, Montana, where she grew up with her older brother Ryan. She said she loves skiing and being in the outdoors. Because of this, Westminster was recommended to her by her college tutor. She said she is looking forward to studying nursing at Westminster.

Brynn Sayler, from Missoula, Mountana, is a prospective nursing major who loves skiing, playing soccer, and all things outdoors. (Photo courtesy of Brynn Sayler)

Q: What were the most important factors to you in choosing a college?

A: I was very interested by the feeling I got when I got [to campus], which is one of the biggest reasons I chose Westminster. I wanted to go somewhere that was outdoorsy, with a lot of skiing.

Q: Where do you think you’re going to get a ski pass?

A: I don’t know yet. Park City would be like a dream, but that is very expensive.

Q: Have you thought about what you’d like to study?

A: I want to go into nursing, so right now my classes are heading that direction. I don’t know if I’ll stay in it, but that’s what I’m trying to do.

Q: What part of college are you looking forward to the most?

A: I think I’m looking forward to a new learning atmosphere. Different teachers, meeting new people for sure. [Also] living on my own.

Q: Is there anything you’re nervous about?

A: I think I’m just nervous for the change. Just going off on my own and stuff, but I’m definitely more excited than I am nervous, which I think is probably good.

Irvin Choi  

Originally from South Korea, Irvin Choi, 18, has lived in Saipan — the largest of the Northern Mariana Islands and a commonwealth of the United States — for the last seven years. He said he enjoys video games, reading, running, biking and being outdoors. He said he is planning on being a computer science major.

Irvin Choi’s favorite bike path at Central Canal in Indianapolis, Indiana where he lived prior to attending Westminster College. He hopes to major in computer science. (Photo courtesy of Irvin Choi)

Q: Why did you choose Westminster?

When I was applying for college I had a lot of options including poly-technical schools. One thing that stood out to me was the admissions counselor was really nice and she answered all of my questions. And coming from an international perspective, she was able to answer a lot of my questions thoroughly and kind of put my mind at ease.

Also I liked the idea of approaching education from a liberal arts perspective. I like to have multiple different points and different backgrounds. I like the location of Salt Lake City too. I like the funkiness of it, the atmosphere, and I like the outdoors.

Q: Are there things in Utah that you’re excited about outside of Westminster?

I hear there’s great snow there. That’s pretty exciting because I love snow and skiing. I also heard about how Salt Lake City is very diverse and has a lot of different options. It has a good, busy nightlife, and there’s a lot of different religions. So I like the diversity in general, and how there’s different backgrounds, and how friendly it is especially toward the LGBTQ+ community as well.

Q: How did you get in to computer science?

My uncle is a professional programmer. I started to practice a bit and I learned and I got to learn a lot about computer science. I also love working on big projects that involve computers. […] Growing up, I had a lot of computers and technology around me, and that was really where I got the inspiration to major in computer science.

Q: Is there anything else about Westminster that you’re excited to get involved in?

I’m also part of the honors community, and I hear that it’s a really nuance way to approach education, and I’m really excited to have conversations and go to lectures. I’m excited about the liberal arts perspective and getting involved in activities in the honors community.

Q: Is there anything that you’re nervous about?

I was initially nervous about the living arrangements […] especially since I’ve never visited Westminster College myself. I didn’t get a chance to visit the campus, so it was pretty nervous for me to see where I would be living. But something that helped ease my nervousness was the virtual tour. […] Being able to see exactly what my room would look like really helped me a lot to decide whether it’s the right fit for me.

Q: Being an international student, how did you hear about Westminster?

I discovered it through my college counselor. When I was searching for college options, I wanted my education to be more diverse and to have a liberal arts background. And I like the location towards the west. So when I narrowed down my search options, I researched opportunities, and I stumbled across Westminster College.

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