One of the sections included in the annual Senior Edition is a series of essays titled Seniors Speak. These works are written and submitted to The Acronym by members of the graduating class, allowing them to reflect on their experiences, share advice, and advocate for change. Sophie Pribus (Stanford ’24) lived in 1502B for her entire IMSA career. She was Captain of the Congressional Debate Team, Vice President of Student Council, and Founder of Dialekt, a non-profit working on campus to tutor immigrants in the local community.
Buried in the bottom of my backpack is a little orange notebook. It’s a quote book I’ve been keeping since I got to IMSA, in my effort to remember every important piece of advice or humorous comment I heard here. I expected that by the time I was a senior, I’d be able to fill the book with my own advice, but this is hardly the case. Maybe that “senior wisdom” is a fourth-quarter thing.
Since I’ve a few qualifications to offer advice of my own, I’ll share the best that I learned from others:
“Wisdom goes in through the ears, not out through the mouth.”– Sean Golinski, 9/25/17
I imagine Sean told us this during a LEAD session when my friends and I were making a ruckus. I’m still working on taking this advice – as are many of my peers – but my efforts thus far have shown me that this applies not just to the words of others, but to your own. In the midst of stress, struggle, and triumph, take time to listen to yourself. Sometimes you give the best advice.
“It’s due 8th mod, so basically tomorrow.” – Ian Fowler, 9/21/17
Okay, this isn’t advice I’d recommend you take too seriously on a surface level. But Ian told me this when I was having a bad day after failing a math test and made time for me above his own assignments. I’ll never forget that first gesture of friendship and care, and IMSA was full of such moments for me. As long as students continue to make that conscious choice, I know these moments won’t disappear. You shouldn’t always put others first, but be there for each other when you’re really needed. You’ll know when.
“Every time you make a statement I lose more respect for you.” – Alex Sobczynski, 5/3/18
This was deserved – due to my remarkable inability to CSI, I told her I was giving up and marrying rich. She reminded me that respect isn’t a guarantee, but a privilege. Many times we’re told that every person deserves respect, that we should be born into it. I agree with the latter statement, but it’s easy to lose your right to respect. Every day, you should work at earning respect from others, and you should expect others to earn yours. You earn respect from others by respecting others and yourself.
“If you haven’t fallen in love yet, I highly recommend it.” – Dr. Kiely, 10/9/18
Ah, IMSA love. What a difficult, yet familiar concept. I’m 100% sure I’m not qualified to give advice in the field of love, as my friends will tell you, so instead I’ll speak to emotion. Being at IMSA makes you feel everything – towards yourself, your family, and your peers. I’ve always been of the opinion that you should say how you feel when you feel it. At IMSA, that was oftentimes a complete disaster. I probably should not have said how I felt about people in certain cases. It cost me friendships, relationships, and a lot of sleep. But it was also incredibly freeing, and I don’t regret it. Being honest with other people about my feelings gave me so many incredible experiences that IMSA wouldn’t be complete without. And let’s be real, who doesn’t want a plethora of failed relationships to look back on as a graduating senior?
“People desperately want to avoid a sad you.” – Dr. Eysturlid, 3/26/19
I learned two things that day. One, that Dr. Eysturlid always has a comeback. And two, that humans are habitually afraid of hurting each other’s feelings for all the wrong reasons. Too often, our fear of others being hurt keeps us from telling the truth and being honest about our own feelings. I’m not sanctioning telling your friend that her hoodie-button-up combo is not the move – there are nicer ways to say it. But in arguments, class discussions, and late-night talks, don’t be afraid to say exactly what you think. How can you expect to be problem solvers and global leaders if you can’t even tell your peer that you think they’re wrong? You can’t be so precious about your ideas or else no one will challenge them, and they’ll never get better.
“Why do something stupid when you could do something easy?” – Dr. Fogel, 11/7/19
Math classes with Dr. Fogel are an experience like no other. I recall classes with him as a sophomore that felt like a foreign language class, and I’m still constantly leaning over the table to see if my tablemates understand what’s going on. After surviving a full year of classes as a sophomore, studying for minimum three hours every night, and spending many more on weekends trying to prepare for tests, my mom told me in no uncertain terms that I should do my best not to jeopardize my GPA with another Fogel class. For some reason, as a senior, I decided to sign up for two more. One week in, I was certain I had made a mistake. Not only was I completely confused again, but I also had less time as a senior to put into the class. For months I struggled, studied, and finally came out of it – alive. Looking back, my math classes have always been some of my favorites. Because even though I felt stupid for taking them and jeopardizing my GPA, and even though they were not easy for me whatsoever, I learned the most. So to answer your question, Dr. Fogel – because I wanted to take your classes.
Listen to yourself. Be there for each other. Treat others with respect. Give emotions openly and freely. Be respectfully honest. Challenge yourself.
Six clichés later, I’m proud of what IMSA has taught me.
Sophie I have been so incredibly proud to have you in 02 these past three years, because you are a delight of a human. You are strong, confident, intelligent, kind, passionate and determined, and that is a powerful combination. You will go on to change the world for the better, just as you have changed IMSA for the better. We are so lucky to have had you, and I can only say I am hopeful to have many more like you (though none will ever come close to you :) BEST of luck at Stanford, I know you will love it, and they are so incredibly lucky to be getting you. Don’t forget to visit us or skype when you can. You’ve made myself, Candice, and the rest of 02 very proud. We love you!