Smith will welcome 727 new students – first-years, transfers and students of non-traditional-age – during Opening Convocation at 7 p.m. on Wednesday Sept. 5, at John M. Greene Hall. The 645 first-years in the Class of 2016 were selected from 4,341 applications, the most in the history of the college.
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – As a Massachusetts resident, Katherine S. Estes represents the state with the largest number of students in the Smith College Class of 2016. But good things come in large numbers in the Estes family, which this year will have not one but three daughters attending the college.
In September, Katherine will join her older twin sisters, Jennifer and Kristen, who are members of the Class of 2015, on campus and on the field hockey team.
Because she has sisters at Smith, Katherine is also counted among this year’s 82 legacy students. Although they did not set out to attend the same school, the sisters’ decision to do so does not seem surprising given a childhood in which the trio did everything together, from ballet classes to birthday parties.
In addition to first-years, new faces at Smith this fall include 46 transfer students, selected from 309 applicants, and 36 Ada Comstock Scholars – students of non-traditional age – selected from 157 applicants.
A Glimpse of the Class of 2016
Tran Bao Le of West Chester, Penn.
First-year student originally from Vietnam
Tran Bao Le lives by the proverb “tenacity can mold a mountain of iron into a needle.” When the Fall of Saigon marked the end of the Vietnam War and the start of a transition period leading to the formal reunification of Vietnam into a communist state, Tran’s family suffered. Her grandfather was exiled to a labor camp and her mother was forbidden from pursuing a college education. But Tran was inspired by her family’s perseverance. She taught herself English and applied to high schools in the United States. Although her English skills seemed inadequate when she arrived in the U.S., Tran pressed on with her language education, mastering English, French and Japanese. She has volunteered with the Red Cross in places such as the Peace Village of Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where children with Agent Orange-related birth defects and disabilities are assisted.
Grace Barrett-Snyder of Merrick, N.Y.
First-year student, entrepreneur and journalist
Although Grace Barrett-Snyder is just beginning college, she already has extensive experience in the working world. Grace is the founder of her own company, called Get Your Kicks On, which sells her painted canvas bags and shoes. She has also worked for Newsday, based in Long Island, N.Y. Grace has interviewed and written articles about celebrities, such as comedian and actor Steve Carell for the Kidsday section the newspaper, an opportunity she earned after meeting the editor at her school, the Long Island School for the Arts.
Ana Zumwalt Tanner of Berkeley, Calif.
First-year student, building supportive community for Chinese adoptees
Growing up in the U.S. as an adoptee from China, Ana Tanner questioned how exactly to “claim” both cultures as well as her individuality. By the end of middle school, she realized there were many other adoptees contemplating the same questions. When Ana traveled with four other Chinese teens to England and Ireland to reflect on their experiences as adoptees, she realized how beneficial it was to connect with others on subjects surrounding birth parents and trans-racial families. In an effort to build a community of support, Ana began working with China Children International, an organization created by teen adoptees in support of other adoptees. She is specifically working to create online groups that provide a supportive space to engage in conversation.
Sophia Alexandra Martins of Natick, Mass.
First-year student, creative writer, poet
A member of her high school’s Creative Writing Program, Sophia Martins developed her literary skills working as an editor of The Blue Pencil Online, a magazine that publishes creative literary pieces by young writers. Sophia immersed herself in the program and won awards for her work, including a Silver Key in Poetry from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and a Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award. Her play “Pride” was also produced at the Boston Playwrights’ Theater.
Marie Jacques Seignon and Kareen Seignon, sisters from Miami, Fla.
Ada Comstock Scholars who are originally from Haiti
Sisters Marie and Kareen Seignon moved to the U.S. from their home in Haiti in their late teens, securing jobs and taking high school English classes while applying to Miami Dade College. In 2009, Marie and Kareen enrolled in Miami Dade’s English for Academic Purposes Program and, later, the Honors College at Miami Dade. The college provided the sisters with exciting opportunities for research. Marie conducted studies on Parkinson’s disease and Kareen explored the biomedical field at the prestigious Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. After completing their research, their projects were selected among thousands to be presented at the 2011 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. Marie and Kareen plan to continue studying the biological sciences at Smith.
Claudia Jean Tanney of Brooklyn, N.Y.
First-year student, filmmaker
Claudia has been fascinated with filmmaking since she was 4 years old and first looked through the viewfinder. She went from filming simple scenes—her sister dancing, mom cooking, dad drawing—to practicing animation features with her sister’s action figures and dolls. By the age of 6, Claudia had already learned how to edit film footage and used visits from friends as a chance to stage sitcoms, talk shows, and mockumentaries. Claudia released her first documentary at age 9, titled “A Day in the Life of a 3rd Grader,” which quickly got audiences anticipating the sequel, “A Day in the Life a 4th Grader.
Emily Ford of Terre Haute, Ind.
First-year student, global citizen, school mascot
During her last two years at Culver Academy, Emily transformed herself into the school mascot: an eagle. Inside the big, feathered, heavy-headed anonymous suit she would interact with the crowd in the football stadium. This year, Emily is pursuing a gap-year with the Global Citizen Year program, a prestigious opportunity for students to participate in service learning and leadership training in Africa, Latin America and Asia. She will begin her Smith education in the fall of 2013.
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