Anita Zhu ’18
Currently Attending: Haverford College
Years at Shipley: 4
Activities & Positions Held: Varsity Volleyball co-captain (MVP 3 consecutive years), Glee Club, Project Pengyou Club Founder
How Shipley Shaped Me
I started Shipley in 9th grade, having graduated from my old school with just six other classmates. On the first day of the summer bridge program (a transition program for new students) I was overwhelmed by all the new faces. But the other students and faculty all made me feel welcome in the new environment, and I was amazed at how easy it was to make new friends. Since that first day, I've met many interesting and inspiring people, some of whom are now my close friends. This welcoming environment was especially contributive to my success on the volleyball court.
Being the only freshman on the varsity volleyball team was daunting at first. However, my teammates were very supportive and patient as I learned the norms. My coach, Marta Johnson, recognized my talents and allowed me to flourish on the court. In my sophomore year, I became the team's primary setter, which is like the quarterback in volleyball, and I received the first of my three MVP awards.
Whether it's in the classroom or on the court, Shipley has taught me to be willing to take risks. In the spring semester of my junior year when everyone was preparing for college applications, I studied abroad in China in the rural regions of Yunnan Province with the full support of Shipley's administration, faculty, and college counselors. I knew that studying abroad at this critical juncture would be full of challenges, but I also knew that the reward from this learning experience would outweigh the risks. Indeed, that semester turned out to be a transformative experience for me. I am particularly grateful for my math teacher, Mr. Silbaugh, who generously agreed to hold regular Skype sessions to tutor me on math, which I was studying on my own while in China. I could not have successfully completed Shipley's math curriculum that year without his support.
Who was your most influential teacher and why?
I have had many incredible teachers as a high school student at Shipley. However, I would have to say that Mrs. Pickering has been the most influential teacher in my four years as a Shipley student. For the two years I had her as a teacher, she helped me grow as a writer and thinker. She has taught me many important academic and intellectual skills, such as using art to analyze history and literature, writing effective passage analyses, and thinking critically. Most importantly, her support has helped me learn to communicate more effectively in and outside of the classroom, and she did so by going the extra mile to meet with me on a regular basis. She pushed me to work hard while remaining a staunch supporter of me as a person. I wouldn't be who I am today without her.
Most Memorable Experience
My most memorable experience at Shipley was winning the Independent League Championship in volleyball as the underdogs the same week the Eagles won the Super Bowl. We had lost to the same team the week before, and we were down 0-1 after the first set in the championship match. But my teammates and I knew that wasn't over until it was over. We were able to come back and win the next three sets to secure the championship. It was a perfect way to round out my Shipley volleyball career.
Plans for Fall 2018
I will be attending Haverford College. I am unsure of what my major will be, but I will be pursuing my interests in social sciences and Mandarin, while maintaining my strengths in math and science. And of course, I will be participating in various on-campus organizations.
What is your future ambition?
Life is a sequence of phases. I am unsure of what the phase after college will look like for me. With this understanding, I will keep my mind open to all possible paths.
What does “Courage for the Deed; Grace for the Doing” mean to you?
I have interpreted the Shipley motto through my deeds. "Courage" is meeting with a teacher when I need help. Volunteering at Special Olympics. Reaching out to a friend who is going through a tough time. Studying abroad in junior year. "Grace" is thanking my teachers at the end of each class. Getting back up after losing a match. Learning from my mistakes. Going forward, I will carry this motto with me as I face new challenges in the next phase of my life.
Complete this sentence: Shipley has prepared me...
to overcome obstacles with confidence and to face the world with a good heart and a sound mind.