Me next to white chapel

 Advice from a HDA Alumna by Abigail Etters

Greetings from Terre Haute, Indiana HDA! My name is Abigail Etters and I graduated from HDA in 2008 and Escondido Charter High School as Valedictorian in 2012. I am a Biochemistry Major currently attending the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a school which, for the 14th consecutive year, U.S. News and World Report has rated 1st among colleges that offer the bachelor’s or master’s degree as their top degree in engineering. I plan on attending medical school after graduating from Rose to become an anesthesiologist. Some of the most significant lessons I learned in my college search were to figure out what you are passionate about and apply to colleges that will nourish this passion, and, most importantly, visit the colleges you are truly interested in before making any decisions about where you will attend. I absolutely love math and science, so when I heard about Rose being THE top undergraduate math and science school in the country, I applied and flew out for a campus visit. The school fits my personality in every way possible, from the small class size and genuine faculty and students to the challenging academics.

During high school, I participated in Charter’s Chapter of the National Honor Society as its Treasurer Sophomore year, Vice President Junior year, and President senior year. I was also involved in the California Scholarship Federation and am a member of the National Society of High School Scholars. I was Sideris House Squire Sophomore year, Prefect Junior year, and Captain Senior year. Academic League, a high school academic competition similar to Jeopardy, was one of my favorite activities on campus as I served as Team Captain Freshman year, Sophomore year, and Senior year. I attended the Rotary Youth Leadership Award Conference in Spring 2011, a wonderful experience that brought top-achieving juniors from across California together at a weekend leadership camp. I attended Palomar College during my high school career to challenge myself mathematically and successfully completed Calculus I, II, and III with A’s. I also served as a Math Teacher’s Assistant Junior year and Director’s Assistant Senior year. Outside of school, I tutored and volunteered at Pomerado Hospital in Poway as a Birth Center Volunteer. I was also the Principal Harpist and Percussionist for the Civic Youth Orchestra, having played the piano for twelve years and the harp for eight.

HDA played an important role in preparing me for college, particularly for attending a school such as Rose-Hulman. Rose supplies laptops to all of its students with specific programs that I use on a daily basis. These range from Maple software for complicated mathematical calculations to Logger Pro, a program that connects with devices in Physics laboratories to take accurate readings that the students then interpret. Having been in a similar situation when HDA issued me a laptop, I was familiar with proper laptop care and exploring new programs while other students experienced technical difficulties that required our technology department’s assistance. HDA also taught me the importance of learning independently and always asking for help when it’s necessary. College professors consider it the student’s responsibility to learn and understand all of the information necessary. They will not offer the answer, but they will assist students work through the process of finding it. Furthermore, the most essential skill students need to acquire before entering college is comfortability in asking for help. If you do not understand one letter, number, or word that your professor uses, ask them to clarify. If your school has a tutoring center and one subject or homework assignment is giving you trouble, it should be automatic that you pack up and head over for help. You will not have the time to catch up if you do not understand a concept in college. The workload continues to get heavier and the concepts become more complicated. However, the college experience is worth the workload and more. Having the ability to study what you love and prepare for a career while living with like-minded people is a wonderful and indescribable experience, and I look forward to the adventures coming my way.