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Upper Schooler Finds the Right Fit at CSS

Audrey B. ’22 arrived at The Colorado Springs School as a painfully shy 9th grader. Fast forward four years to her senior year of high school, and she is thriving both socially and academically as she prepares to pursue her dream of becoming a medical doctor, a path she chose after a life-changing experience at CSS.

“I went to really big schools for a long time, and I couldn't handle large crowds,” she said.

“When I say I was shy, I don't even mean I was quiet. I mean I’d be invited to birthday parties, and I would not talk to anyone – and it was like that for a long, long time.”

At CSS, Audrey focused on communicating with one or two people, then three or four, and so on until she felt comfortable interacting with larger groups. She joined Model United Nations – a debate club – to push herself even further, eventually serving as vice president.

“The small school environment gave me an opportunity to learn how to communicate with other people. It made me more confident in my own abilities, which is what I appreciate most,” she said. “Being able to communicate is such an important life skill.”

Audrey knows how essential communication will be in helping her become a well-rounded physician, a career she narrowed in on as a sophomore participating in The Colorado Springs School’s Experience-Centered Seminar (ECS) program in March 2020. Seminars are held for three weeks each spring and provide students with the necessary skills to conduct large-scale academic investigations that will set them apart in college and beyond.

In the Wilderness Emergency Medicine ECS on Santa Cruz Island in California, Audrey and other students learned to apply life-saving techniques to patients during simulated exercises. “That ECS specifically allowed me to discover if I was actually passionate about medicine or if it was more of an ‘Oh yeah, this seems cool’ feeling,” she said. “That overall experience showed me this is really what I want to pursue in my future. It changed my life.”

Audrey will gain yet more medical experience in May while fulfilling her Senior Capstone requirement, which immerses students in a topic of their choice for several weeks to provide a dynamic, hands-on learning experience. She will shadow cardiologists, including Dr. Clint Malone P’27, P’22, P’19, and attend an open-heart surgery. “I want to be a surgeon, and I’m leaning toward cardiac surgery,” Audrey said. “They say you don't know for sure until you do all of your rotations in different fields of surgery.”

Teachers admire Audrey’s humble personality and work ethic. She scored 34 out of 36 on the ACT and has a weighted GPA of 4.26. "Audrey is incredibly confident and competitive but has the social-emotional intelligence to work with others in a kind and collaborative way," said Science Teacher Natalie Hanson. "She can always be counted on to answer and ask questions during discussions and often does so at a level comparable to an upper-level college student."

Audrey completed six Advanced Placement (AP) exams during her junior year, earning the highest possible score of 5 on three of them. And, she plans to take two more AP exams before graduation. Eight AP credits would fast-track her through her first year of college, essentially allowing her to begin as an advanced standing freshman with sophomore-level status.

Already, Audrey has been accepted to four of her top-choice colleges: Northeastern University, where she was one of 3,000 students accepted out of 50,000 early action applicants (an acceptance rate of six percent); the University of Miami, with a four percent early action acceptance rate; the University of South Florida; and the University of Florida’s Honors College. She’s leaning toward the latter.

“The term we use in the business for someone like Audrey is a hotshot,” said CSS College Counselor Erik Playe. “She has accomplished so much here at CSS. The top schools are vying for her.”

CSS has offered Audrey many opportunities to explore and grow. She is a member of the National Honor Society and has held various theatre roles, including stage manager, and has served as class treasurer, class vice president, and Forum vice president. She’s the top-seeded singles varsity tennis player, spending much of her free time on the courts. This year, she joined the varsity basketball team on a whim after watching from the sidelines.

She’s come a long way from being that timid 9th-grade student. While CSS contributed to her transformation, there’s a driving force behind Audrey wanting to become the best possible version of herself: her maternal grandmother. Audrey’s grandmother often visited from Mexico, staying several months at a time, to help raise her during her first six years of life, while her parents worked to provide for their young family.

Her grandmother, who speaks no English, taught her Spanish and how to make tortillas from scratch. Most importantly, she passed on invaluable life lessons to Audrey, who is also fluent in French.

“Her level of pure and simple compassion is likely the highest motivation I have to become a doctor,” Audrey wrote in her college application essay. “I’ve never met someone who is as selfless and compassionate with no form of outside motivation or pressure. In seeing such kindness, I’ve striven to be as empathetic as she is.”