Another Extraordinary Class: Meet Some New Smithies

Max Pabilonia '21, who spent her senior year in high school growing algae for biodiesel, is one of 717 new students entering Smith this fall.

Max Pabilonia ’21 wants to turn wastewater into a prime growing environment for an eco-friendly alternative to natural gas.

Since her senior year in high school, she’s been growing algae for biodiesel—first at home and then, when the project outgrew her basement, as part of a research project at her school.

Now, she’s turned her interest into advocacy—creating tools to help others interested in clean energy.

“I’m writing up my results in a do-it-yourself guide for other young people,” says Pabilonia.

Pabilonia is just one of the 717 remarkable students starting their Smith careers this fall. “This is indeed an extraordinary group,” says Dean of Admission Deb Shaver.

The Admission Office reports 72 percent of new Smithies ranked in the top 10 percent of their class, and 93 percent ranked in the top 20 percent.

Of this year’s 717 new students, 642 are first years, 46 are transfers and 29 are Ada Comstock Scholars.

Fifteen percent of this year’s new students are international, coming from countries including Argentina, China, India, Japan, Kenya and Mexico—among others.

Sixteen percent of members of the class of 2021 are first-generation college students. Nine percent of new students are African American, 10 percent are Latina and 12 percent are Asian American.

In addition to Pabilonia, here are examples of some other exceptional new Smithies:

 

  • Ada Comstock Scholar Ketty Munyenyembe of Norwalk, Conn., was born in Ndola, Zambia, and has a passion for international relations. As a volunteer with YMCA Africa, she has led peer leadership training sessions and has given presentations in countries around the world. In 2014, Munyenyembe was invited to be a facilitator at the YMCA World Council in Denver.
  • Julia Pigott of New York City has been an avid storyteller since she was a girl. She is head writer and director for Quip Modest Productions on Tumblr and has written and directed three independent web series. Her most recent project is an original web series, The Uncanny Upshers, which follows the college careers of twin witches in London and New York City.
  • Nadia PenkoffLidbeck of Essex, Conn., is fascinated by the disciplines involved in medical science. Last summer, she was selected as an intern for the Discovery to Cure program at the Yale School of Medicine, where she worked in a research lab helping to identify genetic material in human fallopian tube cells related to ovarian and breast cancer.
  • Isabel Fields of Santa Monica, Calif., co-founded the Feminine Every Month (FEM) Project, a nonprofit that supplies homeless women in the greater Los Angeles area with feminine hygiene kits stocked with handwritten notes, tampons, pads and wipes—necessities not covered by food stamps or provided by many shelters. The organization’s mission is “empowering women to own their own femininity.”