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Senior Spotlight: Tatum N. ‘23

May 03, 2023

Congratulations to Tatum N. ‘23, who will be enrolling at Cornell University in the fall! In this Senior Spotlight, we discuss what Tatum’s learned most in the pursuit of her IB diploma, her passion for Ornithology (the study of birds), and what she’s most looking forward to about the college experience.

When did you start attending Léman?

I came to Léman in 9th grade, so this is my fourth year here.


What drew you to Léman for your High School experience?

I was drawn to Leman because at the time I was very interested in The Arts and swimming, and I knew that Léman had great facilities for both of those disciplines. Another reason was because of the IB program. I went to an IB elementary and middle school and my mom enjoyed the rigor of the IB, so we decided an IB high school would also be beneficial. 


What extracurricular activities are you involved with? What do you enjoy most about them?

Due to Covid, I couldn’t participate in as many extracurriculars as I would have liked, however in my junior and senior years I was able to participate more. I was on the Volleyball team during my freshman year, and then swam with the Varsity Swim team in my senior year. I was part of the Podcast Club, the Career Club, and the Future of Career Club. Outside of Léman, I took part in many research, rehabilitation, and environmental projects which included bird banding, collecting data for citizen sciences, and wildlife rehabilitation. 


What drew you to the IB and what have you learned most from your experience with the IB program?

I was drawn to the IB program because one, I love learning and challenging myself to achieve the highest level, and two, I knew that universities looked for students who took part in the most demanding courses or curriculum available to them at their school.


I have learnt many things from my experience in the IB program, and one of the most valuable lessons is probably the importance of not procrastinating. Besides that, the program has taught me many skills I can take with me to university, such as elevated writing, note-taking, studying, and speaking skills. But most of all, the IB has given me the confidence and ability to pursue my dreams.  


What did you write your extended essay on? What was that process like?

I wrote my extended essay (EE) about spring warbler migration through Central Park under my Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS) class because of my interest in the environmental sciences and desire to collect my own data. The first part of the essay process was simply me physically collecting data and observations in the park. I then translated this data onto tables and graphs that could be analyzed for trends. For the overall process, I made sure to complete it over the summer because I knew that when school resumes for senior year I would be swamped with individual assessments and supplemental essays for the college application process. I would advise anyone about to write their EE to choose a topic that genuinely interests them! 


Tell us more about your college application experience? What was it like working with the College Office?

Similar to my EE, I wrote the bulk of my common app essay over the summer which greatly helped my stress levels once I returned to Léman. I have had a supportive experience with the College Office, and I have always felt able to pop in and ask Ms. O small questions, or sit down and discuss major life choices. One of the most important things is keeping on top of your supplementals and working on them continuously. I found that when it came down to the activities section of the common app–where you have to include extracurriculars, sports, and any outside activities–I didn’t have to force anything, but instead, all of the activities that were authentic to me could be included.


What drew you to Cornell? What do you hope to study while there?

Cornell has been my dream school ever since I started to think about universities. I knew about Cornell because of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology which is a world class research institute focusing on birds (which are my fav), and are the founders of eBird, which is a global citizen science project that contributes to conservation.


But besides that, the campus is beautiful and it isn’t too far from home. Although I’m a little scared of the winters, I know I’ll survive. At Cornell I plan on majoring in Biological Sciences or Environment and Sustainability with a minor in Spanish, with the intention of research and conservation work. 


What are you most excited about in regards to your upcoming college experience?

I am very excited for the larger school atmosphere because I have been in small schools my entire life. The private campus, situated amongst gorgeous waterfalls and with miles of easily accessible trails, is breathtaking and I can’t wait to take advantage of it. I have also lived in NYC my whole life, and so the transition to the small town of Ithaca in upstate NY will be a big change for me, but I find that change is good! I plan on doing study abroad and research during my time at Cornell and can’t wait for those experiences.  


What will you miss most about Léman?

I will miss my friends and teachers from Léman. Especially some of the crazy memories I’ve made, mostly during the senior year when everyone is stressing out together over exams and college applications. But we all made it in the end, and it’s been a valuable journey. 


What advice would you give to younger Léman students, especially those who are about to embark on their own college application process?

My main piece of advice I would give to younger Léman students beginning their college process is to tell your own story and no one else's. This may seem self-explanatory, but so many people try to arrange a story that they think the admissions committee will enjoy. Instead, write authentically about yourself and your passions, hobbies and interests. Be yourself, everyone else is taken :)




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