Meet Brennan '19
Currently Attending: American University
Years at Shipley: 9
Activities & Positions Held: Varsity Volleyball (Captain), High School Democrats Club (Founder and President), Civic Activism Club (Founder and President), The Beacon (“World News” Editor), Yearbook (Photographer and Editor), Positive Paws. Served as a U.S. Senate Page in Washington, D.C. for five months during junior year.
Reflections on Shipley
I entered Shipley as a young, wildly energetic, utterly disorganized nine-year-old, and I am leaving as a confident, driven, almost entirely organized eighteen-year-old. Looking back on my time at Shipley, I am able to reflect on how much the teachers, classes, field trips, speakers, and students have shaped the person I am today. Shipley taught me how to be much more than a student. I learned how to be a friend, a leader, and an individual. It wasn’t always easy being pushed out of my comfort zone, but I always came out of every experience grateful for my growth.
The fall, I helped organize a political panel for an Upper School assembly. A group of students and I were going to field questions from the student body as if we were one of eight different political candidates running for various positions in the 2018-midterm elections. As the President of the High School Democrats club, I felt confident in my ability to take on the role of a democratic candidate and answer questions without much preparation. However, several days before the assembly, the organizers decided it would be best if I played a Republican candidate, as to best remove bias from the presentation. I had no idea what to do or what I was going to say from the perspective of someone I had been arguing against for years. I did lots of research and spent hours preparing answers to potential questions I could be asked. Though I was nervous and admittedly uncomfortable, when the assembly took place, I introduced myself as the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate and embraced the role with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. Ultimately, I ended up having a great time fielding questions and the panel got a very positive response. I was proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and grateful to Shipley for pushing me to get to that point. I would have never challenged my beliefs and taken on a different perspective without that exercise.
Shipley has given me all the tools I need to go into college and the world without fear of trying new things or testing my limits. I have the courage to push myself and the maturity to understand how important these small steps are. I would not be the person I am today without the hundreds of little pushes Shipley gave me over the past nine years, and I encourage every student to embrace each challenge as an opportunity to grow. Looking back, my growth is clear, and I owe it all to my classes and community at Shipley.
Who was your most influential teacher and why?
The most influential teacher in my life was, without a doubt, Mrs. Van Horn. When I first came to Shipley in fourth grade, Mrs. Van Horn welcomed me into her class and immediately began pushing me as a student and person. I was intimidated by her fast-paced, hands-on teaching style at first, but I soon realized that with hard work, focus, and a genuine love for what I was learning, I could make Mrs. Van Horn proud and soak in all of the information her lessons offered. Every day I woke up excited for whatever project, field trip, or mock revolutionary war battle we had in store that day in class. I don’t think I’ve ever learned more (or had so much fun) at school, and I will treasure the memories of Mrs. Van Horn’s fourth-grade class for the rest of my life.
What was your most memorable experience at Shipley?
My most memorable experience at Shipley was winning the Independent League Volleyball Championship for the sixth consecutive year as a senior captain. The team went into the match as the underdog, having not defeated our championship opponent even once during the entire regular season and playing off of the Shipley campus in their School’s gym. Despite the odds, all of us on the Shipley team knew it would be our last time playing together and we had to give it our best effort. After two extremely intense, stress-ridden hours, Shipley pulled out a victory by three points in the tie-breaking fifth set. Everyone on the team burst into tears and ran onto the court to celebrate. I was so proud of each girl for her determination and passion and was grateful to end my high school career with such a memorable experience.
What are your plans for the fall of 2019?
This fall I will be attending American University in Washington, D.C. to study Public Relations and Strategic Communication with a possible double major in Political Science.
Are you going to college to nurture a talent that you honed during your time at Shipley?
I am going to college to pursue my interest in communication, journalism, and politics, all of which Shipley has fostered throughout my nine years in and out of the classroom. From writing for The Beacon to organizing and performing a mock political debate for an Upper School assembly, Shipley has never failed to not only support but also encourage my passions.
What is your future ambition and what led you to this ambition?
My dream job would be to serve as White House Press Secretary or National Communications Director on a Presidential campaign. Shipley not only provided me with the public speaking, writing, and critical thinking skills necessary to pursue these positions, but also the confidence to see this dream as a reachable goal.
What does Courage for the Deed; Grace for the Doing mean to you?
To me, it means pursuing your goals without fear or hesitation, but with kindness, compassion, and love.
What impact or contributions do you think you have made at Shipley and in the larger community?
I hope that I helped people to recognize the power of their voice and the importance of their involvement in politics locally and across the world. I loved every second of explaining current events in Civic Activism Club, creating political messaging in my art, and debating hot button issues with my peers. I feel that I have done my best to generate a meaningful conversation about these important topics in the Shipley Upper School, and I hope that these conversations continue to grow years after I’m gone.
Complete this sentence: Shipley has prepared me to… take on the world with confidence in my knowledge, my voice, and myself.