Meet the Incoming Scotties of 2023
As members of the Agnes Scott admission team sat in Alston Student Center awaiting the arrival of our international students, it was hard not to reflect on the journey our students have taken to get to this point in their lives.
For some Scotties, college was an automatic next step after high school, a matter of where they would go not a matter of if. For others, they will be the first in their family to go to college and they navigate a “newness” that spans generations. For some, like our international students, the first step is endless hours on a plane arriving on a campus they may have never even seen in person before. And for still others, hurdle after hurdle has been placed in the way of them joining the Agnes Scott Class of 2023 — but they made it. No matter the path to get here, these students have worked hard to make Agnes Scott the place they will begin their next chapter. Their efforts and achievements in high school leading to new opportunities to explore themselves and the world they are a part of.
This fall, Agnes Scott welcomed 300 new Scotties to Orientation. They came to us from 36 states and six countries, with 10 continuing the Scottie legacy of family members before them. They’re interested in everything from Biology/Pre-med to Dance, and our faculty are particularly excited that a significant number of them are reveling in the opportunity to explore the liberal arts and are undecided in major.
We are so happy their path led them to Agnes Scott. These are just a few of their #CertifiedScottie stories. Welcome home, ASC23!
Ruby Santana ’23, Takoma Park, Maryland
In a Maryland high school classroom, a quilt depicting a historical timeline of mass high school shootings remains on display, a visually compelling piece of artwork meant to encourage reflection on issues of gun violence across the U.S. – and knitted entirely by Ruby Santana for her junior project as part of her school’s prestigious Communication Arts Program. That kind of creativity and intellectual depth has led others to describe her as “a brilliant, out-of-the-box thinker,” a staunch “advocate for herself and her peers” and whose work will one day “make a great impact on humanity.”
As one of Agnes Scott’s Presidential Scholars, Ruby plans to study Public Health with hopes of one day becoming a medical professional, a field she began to focus on after overcoming her own struggles with anxiety and depression. Ruby is co-host of a weekly community radio show “Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice” where they focus on youth-oriented, feminist topics and guest interviews. Ruby was a proud member of her school’s Young Democrat’s Club and has also been a video producer for the online newspaper, winning Honorable Mention her sophomore year in the National C-SPAN StudentCam competition for her short documentary film on the opioid epidemic. A talented musician, she sings, plays guitar, bass and keys during gigs throughout the D.C., Maryland and Virginia areas with audition-based rock performance group School of Rock Silver Springs House Band.
She was drawn to Agnes Scott because of its campus diversity, beauty, innovation and the warmth of Georgia (the weather, which spoke to her Dominican roots!). “I was seeking out a racially and socioeconomically diverse college, with a strong preference to an all-women’s college – I understood that colleges like that might be rare, if nonexistent. Then I heard about Agnes Scott; touring campus was the first time I felt like I truly belonged at a school.”
Ruby finds peace in crafting in her spare time and loves knitting, embroidering, making jewelry and sewing, and currently sells custom crochet tops.
We love Ruby Santana’s quirky, creative, compassionate personality and unapologetic individuality, and we’re excited to see what uniqueness she brings to our vibrant community!
Kaya Goosby '23, Paia, Hawaii
When Kaya Goosby took up competitive paddling several years ago, it didn’t have anything to do with the Island native’s love of water. In fact, her friends dubbed her “the paddler who can’t swim” due to her lack of agility IN the water… but on top of the water? That’s another story! When Kaya first began paddling, she thought, due to her lack of experience and physical muscle, that she would never be strong enough to be a competitive paddler – an intimidating obstacle to overcome, but one she also used as a motivator to “just do her best.” Her paddle became an extension of her, usually present during her high school class periods, and she practiced paddling after school let out, long into the evenings. Here diligence paid off – Kaya paddled as “lead” on her school’s junior varsity and eventually varsity outrigger canoe teams and as a crew member of club team Lae’ Ula O Kai in the off season, winning several “regattas,” or races. During her third year paddling, she got to compete with the Maui Interscholastic League (MIL) state team, one of her proudest accomplishments thus far.
Besides her passion for paddling, Kaya, who is the oldest of five siblings, is a dedicated member of the Key Club and an Awana volunteer with her church’s children’s ministry. A certified nursing assistant, Kaya placed third regionally this year during the annual HOSA (Future Health Professionals organization) CNA competition. At Agnes Scott, she plans to study Nursing through the college’s dual-degree program with Emory University.
Kaya believes Agnes Scott will prepare her to make positive contributions to the world. “I’m enthusiastic about this environment of people who believe that the sky’s the limit. Just from watching videos and meeting current students, I’m excited to be around so many people who want to make real change.”
Fun facts about Kaya: She is learning jujitsu and loves doing puzzles. She is one of three future Scotties in #ASC23 who will be attending Agnes Scott this fall from the great state of Hawaii! We love Kaya’s adventurous and determined mindset, and look forward to watching her build upon these strengths as a Scottie!
Sweksha Sharma ’23, Kathmandu, Nepal
In Nepal, she is known as “Swekuu didi,” or “elder sister,” among her peers, a name she came to earn honestly by facing her fears: sharing her story and challenging the status quo. A victim of bullying and body shaming in school, Sweksha turned to spoken word poetry, addressing the issue and the importance of self-care in front of a school assembly of 3,500 people. Her speech was so well received that it has paved the way for every challenge she has accepted since, including co-founding organization Aawaz (Your Voice is Your Power), a project that works to spread awareness about bullying and body shaming, while teaching young students about empathy, self-acceptance and self-care. Filled with the realization that change could begin with her, Sweksha challenged Nepal’s traditional gender roles and ran for Student Council President her senior year, becoming the first female ever elected to the position.
She was Secretary General for her school’s Model United Nations, and moderated seven MUN conferences at different schools. As an Operations and Communications intern with an NGO, Daayitwa, Sweksha worked with “Innovation Leaders” from around the country and helped to launch six national campaigns promoting domestic youth employment to drive policy-level change. Sweksha is the recipient of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award – the world’s leading youth achievement award – and she is the country topper in the Cambridge International AS Level exams for Sociology.
As an International Presidential Scholar, Sweksha plans to study international relations and economics with the hopes of one day becoming a foreign diplomat. “I will never underestimate the power of voice and will continue fighting for the things that matter. To be a great diplomat, one needs a strong sense of leadership and an informed perspective of the world and its people. From day one, Agnes Scott felt like a place where I will be valued, challenged and supported in this.”
Sweksha loves planning events, dancing (she’s performed contemporary and hip-hop dance routines for more than 4 years), hiking (she took a 17-day trek around Darjeeling to learn about mountaineering and culture) and making YouTube videos.
Sweksha is already effecting change in her home country, and we know her bravery will allow her to do that wherever she goes!
Allison Aguilera ’23, Covington, Georgia
When Allison Aguilera takes up her drawing tool, her over-arching hope is that her illustrations will leave someone with a smile. Inspired by everything and anything around her (from color combinations and plants, to dreams and funny things her friends say), she says that her artwork is an extension of her personality, which is described by those who know her as innovative, quirky and inquisitive, with an artistic ability that will inspire a new generation of artist. This year, Allison was awarded the Scholastics Art & Writing Gold Key Award for “Gaea,” her painting of a witch sitting in an apothecary/kitchen. As a student in the Newton College and Career Academy STEM Institute, Allison completed the Engineering path and learned how to take her drawings to new electronic dimensions through the use of such programs as AUTOCAD, Inventor and Revit.
She is a graduate of the Governor’s Honors Program where she majored in visual arts, and a dedicated member of the National Arts Honor Society, and the competitive Technology Student’s Association. She’s passionate about giving back to her community and has worked through such organizations as STEM S.T.A.R.S., Vex I.Q. Robotics (a program that teaches elementary and middle school children how to build robots) and Oval Office Therapy Dogs.
Allison is interested in studying studio art, environmental studies and/or psychology, and believes Agnes Scott will give her the leadership development and support she desires to achieve her future goals. Allison has also played the cello for eight years and was part of a local string ensemble. She loves practicing archery, growing plants and watching nature documentaries like the BBC’s Planet Earth (so much so that she can quote random animal facts!)
We love Allison’s colorful, creative lens through which she views the world, translated carefully and with much attention to detail onto her canvases. We can’t wait to see what artistic inspirations she will find once she arrives on our campus!
Sayer Kirk ’23, Burlington, North Carolina
When you ask Sayer Kirk what some of her hobbies are, you might experience a momentary pause of intrigue when she lists among other perfectly normal activities “looking at cows,” mainly two miniature Highlands named @moochithecow and Popcorn. A characteristic that is a wonderful example of the good-humored and positive side of Sayer’s personality that so many people are drawn to, it is also a beautiful complement to the other parts of Sayer – her intensity and drive, her desire to educate others on issues close to her heart and her willingness to drive change in the face of adversity.
In 2018, empowered by such national movements as the March for Our Lives events that began following the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, Kirk organized a walkout at her school to honor the 17 students whose lives were lost that day. Her efforts in a small, conservative town, made local and national media, and she appeared in a Refinery29 article on youth activism. But Sayer was already no stranger to tackling otherwise difficult topics.
As a sophomore, she founded the Queer Fish Center, which provides safety and resources to LGBT youth in her county. She was president of the Gay Straight Alliance and worked as the meeting coordinator for the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), where she gave a speech at the GLSEN Respect Awards in New York. In addition, she was Latin Club President and Student Council Student Body Historian for her high school.
She has held internships on political campaigns and March for Our Lives Greensboro, but is most proud of a project she completed that gave students the opportunity to experience what being an educator could be like. Passionate about driving direct change and working with kids, Sayer plans to study education herself and is most looking forward to Agnes Scott’s small class sizes and inclusivity.
Sayer Kirk is the image of positivity & fearlessness – and her excitement for Agnes Scott is palpable. We’re excited to watch Sayer’s legacy of leading unfold at Agnes Scott!
Celia Pereira ’23, San Francisco, California (Pronouns: they/them/theirs)
From almost the time they were able to walk and talk, Celia Pereira has been fascinated with the inner workings of a good story, dissecting the parts that make it amazing and examining character relationships. Their deep appreciation for literature goes hand in hand with their passion for learning and assisting other knowledge seekers, which has led them to be a committed volunteer at their local branch of the San Francisco Public Library. Though they plan to pursue a career in education or library sciences, Celia is a talented young creative writer and lauds their skill with the written word as the achievement of which they are most proud.
Celia is currently writing a fiction novel, but they have truly delved into the craft of plot creation and character development through writing fanfiction stories. Celia has written extensive narrative around the once popular television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the character Jenny Calendar, and describes human relationships as being the cornerstone for their writing.
Celia has been a member of Maven Youth, a tech camp for LGBT students and their allies, for the past two years, and this summer has worked as a youth leader at camps in both San Francisco and Chicago.
Celia was initially drawn to Agnes Scott because of its Creative Writing program, but during their visit to the campus, they fell in love with the supportive, community environment. “Sitting in on a class where I got to hear a bunch of smart girls talking Gothic Literature was legit the most fun I’ve had in a classroom in a really long time.”
You can check out some of Celia’s most recent fanfiction at archiveofourown.org/users/The_Eclectic_Bookworm. Celia’s beautiful way with words and their ability to bring out the “humanness” of a fictional character is the reason why people who know Celia believe they’ll one day see Celia’s name in local bookstores, and we couldn’t agree more!
Jasmin Magaña Marquez ’23, Memphis, Tennessee
When Jasmin Magaña Marquez talks about her cultural identity, she uses the phrase “ambiguous being.” Born in Berkeley, California and raised in Memphis, Tennessee by a single mother, an immigrant from Mexico, Jasmin often struggled with her feelings about her identity. As she grew, she came to understand social issues facing her community, the role in which she could play in driving positive change and pride in her heritage.
“I am a first generation college student, daughter of immigrant parents and a proud Mexican American. Both cultures describe me; they are both parts of my identity… I am constantly learning about pieces of myself every day.”
As Agnes Scott’s #ASC23 Goizueta scholar, Jasmin will major in sociology/anthropology and minor in political science with the goal of learning the root cause of social issues to understand how to not only drive change on a global scale, but more specifically at the small community level. In high school, as part of REACH Memphis (a college preparatory program), Jasmin attended academic summer programs in Indiana and D.C. where she encountered and learned from people of various political perspectives. She is the recipient of the REACH Memphis, Unity in Diversity Scholarship.
Jasmin was also a student ambassador for Facing History and Ourselves, an organization that brought together students from high schools throughout Memphis to learn from one another. As an active member of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, she has traveled nationally with the group to conferences, and has been a part of conversations with representatives in D.C. to lobby for the passage of policies that would help undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
Jasmin loves the overall “women’s empowerment” aspect of Agnes Scott and the SUMMIT curriculum, and is looking forward to building on her self-confidence in a supportive community.
We look forward to seeing the valuable change this tenacious, driven Scottie is destined to effect, especially on our own campus very soon!
Laila Floyd ’23, Atlanta, Georgia
An 11-story high school. A classroom on the tenth floor. Twenty-eight flights of stairs per day, 140 stairs per week. A physical fact that might (and did) leave most high school students looking for the first readily available elevator only encouraged Laila Floyd ’23 to not play a part in increasing the daily energy consumption of her Atlanta high school. But this type of environmentally conscious effort is only one of many that has laid the foundation for the International Baccalaureate student’s quest to contribute to saving the planet.
Laila is passionate about one day investigating and helping to reduce plastics pollution, which has led her to carry her lunches in Tupperware and her water in a canteen, among other things. As a dual-degree Engineering major with hopes of one day becoming a biomedical engineer, Laila wants to bridge the connection between medical materials and everyday materials to discover a more beneficial material to replace plastic.
One of the driving forces behind why she chose Agnes Scott was the college’s commitment to environmental sustainability. “I can see myself on campus addressing such issues as how to reduce waste and of engaging my peers to participate in a zero waste lifestyle.”
In high school, Laila was a part of the varsity Speech and Debate team, and the cheerleading squad. She was the founder and president of a horticulture club that created a small food garden. For the past three years, she has been a participant with the nationally-ranked VEX Robotics team and a student-run ROV team that created aquatic robots. A talented artist, Laila has produced a number of artworks that explore human relationship to food, media and technology, and she wants to find ways to use her art to promote environmental awareness.
Laila’s environmentally-conscious mindset means she’s already the stuff that Scotties are made of, and we can’t wait to watch her change the world.
Abby Alvarez ’23, Chicago, IL
They’ve called her “exceptionally courageous,” the Southeast Chicago student who spoke in front of members of the Chicago Public School Board to advocate for the improvement of the infrastructure at her high school, a building with a roof that suffered from water damage. As part of the Student Voice Committee, Abby Alvarez worked to publicize the issues of the building through social media and reached out to stakeholders, inviting board members for a walk-through of the building and discussing school improvement requests based off of surveys she conducted. As a result of Abby and the SVC, her school system was awarded more than $15 million to make improvements to the school.
“[The confidence and experience I’ve gained]…will guide me in college to be a leader, to stand up against injustice or under-represented groups. …I’ll never let those butterflies in my stomach hold me back from my fullest potential – to voice my concerns within my school and community.”
One of Agnes Scott’s Posse Scholars, Abby’s desire to be a strong support system for others guides her in her future career aspirations to major in biology and become a physical therapist. She was president of her school’s Big Sister Little Sister program, was a Freshman Connection summer mentor, and a representative for Student Leadership. A member of National Honor Society, Abby has participated in Lead2Feed, and her Project Soapbox speech on gun violence advanced to the city finals as part of Mikva Challenge (an organization that works to empower and inform youth to promote a just and equitable society).
Abby has worked as a babysitter for her three younger cousins for four years, and she loves to cook and bake with the women in her family.
With her growing fearlessness to be a voice for others, we know she’ll soon be living the #leadingeverywhere” tagline at Agnes Scott.
CLASS PICK - Katherine Blank ’23, Enterprise, Alabama
During Scholars Weekend this past spring, Katherine Blank handed out fun stickers to her nervous classmates, promptly earning her the nickname “Sticker Girl.” This sign of solidarity and thoughtfulness toward even strangers is one of the reasons those who know the Ohio native describe her as “always looking out for people.”
One of eight children, Katherine’s world changed when at 13-years-old, her mother passed away unexpectedly from a mental illness, leaving her and her siblings to help with the running of the household. This had two unforeseen effects on Katherine: one, it influenced her to work hard for what she wanted and, two, it lit a fire within her to study neuroscience in order to shed light on the causes of mental illness and to help change the narrative around it.
“I lost my mother because she suffered [in silence]. She inspires me every day to be the change; I will fight to the ends of the earth to help people know that what they are dealing with is normal, and there is no reason to hide.”
Katherine was president of her high school’s Psychology Club, an AP Psychology Board representative and a section leader for the flute/piccolo section in Marching/Concert Band. To fund her education, she has worked two jobs and babysat, and she quickly became known in school as the go-to person for questions on how to find outside scholarships. Katherine is a Horatio Alger Scholarship recipient and an incoming member of Agnes Scott’s G.E.M.S. Program (Generating Excellence in Math and Science).
Katherine’s heart of gold and practical advice are some of the reasons her classmates chose her for our first #CertifiedScottie “Class favorite,” and we’re honored to have such a valuable member of the Scottie family.