Derek Pezo ’19
As the school year nears its midpoint, many seniors are finishing college applications or eagerly awaiting responses. For Catherine Fergesen, her four years of hard work and relentless studying have earned her a well-deserved acceptance letter from Oxford University.
Catherine plans to study Psychology and Linguistics in college, but she wishes to hear from other schools first before making her final decision.
“After I narrowed down my academic interest to neurolinguistics, I found that Oxford offers the best program for undergraduate study of language and brain science,” stated Catherine. “I’m more interested in neuropsychology, which is the focus of the psychology program at Oxford.”
As expected, Oxford has a very strict list of qualifications in order to simply be considered as an applicant. While there are no GPA requirements, a student must score a 700 or above on each section of the SAT, and score three 5’s on the AP tests relevant to what that student will be studying. Along with these grueling specifications, Catherine had to write a personal statement that consisted of her educational interests.
“I needed to write a detailing description on why I wanted to study neurolinguistics and how my academic background has prepared me for more advanced study,” said Fergesen. “I didn’t necessarily have to write about my extracurricular activities, but I did write about the sociolinguistics research that I’ve done along with neuroscience projects and programs.”
In addition, Catherine also teaches STEM classes to ESL students. She also spent about two weeks in the Philippines where she did English outreach volunteer work. Besides the fact that she was able to see her family members, Fergesen’s visit had only solidified her interests in linguistics.
“My time in the Philippines piqued my interest in the language as a whole,” she explained.
According to Catherine, one of the most demanding parts of her application was taking the entrance exams for her future courses. Since she is planning to double major, she had taken two of these tests. “The public testing center in New York was sold out, and the next closest ones were in Boston and Chicago,” said Catherine. “I asked some private testing centers in New York state if they would take me, but they didn’t want to administer more than one test.”
When it seemed that all hope was lost, Catherine’s guidance counselor Mr. Pantale made several decisions so that she was able to take these tests. One act in particular was to arrange a meeting with a testing coordinator in England over Skype at three o’clock in the morning. After this call, Catherine was able to take the test.
“Mr. Pantale’s dedication got me into my dream school, and I’m really grateful to him for that,” Fergesen said.
In all of her time in high school, Catherine has benefitted from the determined efforts of her teachers. Those that have had an impact on her include Ms. Dellanno, Ms. Garofalo, Dr. Iobst, and Dr. Clinton.
“Besides the fact that writing will be essential no matter where I go, Dr. Iobst has also shown me the crucial roles that science plays in the world around us,” concluded Catherine. “Many of my teachers have made me dedicated to my studies, which is something I will never forget.”