Blind Brook is inarguably a good school district—providing a nationally recognized quality education for all its students.
The problem, according to Lisa Brady, is the district is also small. With Blind Brook having a graduating class of 120 people this year, she knows every student in her grade. And they all know her. Instead of facilitating personal growth during a period of development where kids change a lot, this smallness contributed to students getting pigeonholed into being the same person they were as a youngster.
Therefore, as the Class of 2019 top scholar prepares to continue her academic journey at Middlebury College in the fall, her focus is on branching out, finding new interests, making new friends and discovering herself on a deeper level.
“Because it’s such a small school, most of us have known each other since kindergarten, you’re kind of locked in your personality until you graduate. To actually go out into different friend groups and meet people, a lot of people don’t do that,” Brady said. “There’s a lot of people who I didn’t really became friends with until high school, which was sad because it took me so long to realize I’d love to be friends with them.”
While the Eagles Bluff resident loves her friends, she can’t help but feel a lot of them are merely friends by proximity, not necessarily because they have a lot in common. In college, she’s excited by the notion that she’ll meet more people who share genuine passions with her.
In high school Brady started branching out because her interests are vast. So, she joined lots of clubs.
From Pride Club, to the Human Rights Council, to Book Club, she found solace in a lot of different areas.
“I also started doing sports, just because I like sports and was thinking I should probably do more than sit on my bed and do homework every day. Then, I very accidently kind of became a jock,” Brady laughed. “I got really involved in cross county, ski and track, and ended up captain of all three. It was an accident, but it was actually really important because I found this community in sports that I just really liked. So, I kept doing it because I really liked them.”
The most meaningful non-academic activity, however, had nothing to do with Blind Brook. In Brady’s sophomore year, she started volunteering at Mount Sinai Hospital to work on a cute yet impactful project. The facility runs its own television station that airs to children’s rooms, where volunteers play trivia and bingo and kids can call in and be on TV if they win.
It touched her heart, Brady said, when she heard about the program. It’s been a priority activity ever since.
In high school, Brady’s academic track was focused on neuroscience. For her science research project, she studied mice at Mount Sinai Hospital to investigate genetic and behavioral connections in Autism Spectrum Disorder—an experience she loved.
However, in the fall, she wants to do something completely different. Like her beliefs on diversifying her social life, Brady doesn’t want to be stuck in one field.
“I don’t want to study a subject because I have a background in it. I think I picked one thing to focus on in high school and now I want to pick something else to study and see if I like that,” Brady explained. “If I explore a bunch of different avenues and end up in neuroscience, that’s great because I have the background. But I don’t want to be locked into anything.”
Brady’s open to anything but politics, she laughed. While she won’t be looking into international relations courses, she’s curious to see where math and linguistics might take her. She’s always had a fondness for mathematics, and having dabbled in German, which her grandparents who live in Germany speak, and Spanish, she’s fascinated by languages.
Brady feels she got lucky in her ultimate decision to attend Middlebury in Vermont. While applying to colleges, she felt pressure from her peers and parents about doing early decision.
“People kind of tell you that you’re supposed to do early decision, even if you don’t really want to,” Brady admitted. “I didn’t know much about a lot of colleges, Middlebury was the only school that I knew more about because my sister goes there, so I applied early. But since then I’ve realized it’s a really good fit. There’s a huge difference between liberal arts colleges and universities, and I just find liberal arts colleges way more appealing.”
Middlebury is a difficult school to get into with an undergraduate population of less than 3,000 students. That means, Brady eagerly explained, class sizes are small and discussion-based, and there are lots of research opportunities.
With the school situated in a rural area of Vermont, Middlebury students are known to plan spontaneous camping trips and outdoorsy adventures, which speaks to her as a person. She’s also gotten the sense that it’s not a cutthroat competitive type of school—the students are collaborative by nature.
Due to trips to visit and stay with her sister, she’s already familiar with a lot of people there and has determined she likes their style.
Like a true scientist, she referred to meeting her sister’s friends a “random sampling.” The students lived in her sister’s dormitory, encompassing a range of personalities and interests, and Brady enjoyed spending time with all of them.
She feels the student body is akin to her in all the right ways. Brady is intellectual, hardworking and punctual. At the same time, she’s far from pretentious.
“A lot of people haven’t even heard of Middlebury. Which means there’s all these intelligent people who chose a school that would make them happy over a big-name school,” Brady described. “It’s hard to get into, which means the academics are really good, which is obviously important to me. And, it means the people who go there are also intelligent, hardworking and interested in random things. It’s this interesting group who don’t care about what other people think, and I think that’s really cool.”