STUDENTS | June 18, 2020
Two Von Steuben Graduates Propelled by Curiosity and Diverse Interests
Olivia Dixon calls her time in high school a journey of self-discovery. She found herself constantly thinking “how did we get to where we are today?” and solidified history and world languages as her main academic interests. She took challenging courses like AP World History and, as a fluent French speaker, became president of the French Club. She also joined Youth Diplomats, a program through WorldChicago that brings students together to learn about foreign policy and global affairs. On top of directly connecting to her interests, being part of Youth Diplomats had another unexpected benefit—the program’s director nominated Olivia for the Posse Scholarship, and she was selected and will be attending Middlebury College in the fall.
“Posse is all about leadership and being able to stand out, not just academically, but in terms of putting yourself out there, helping others, and also being willing to ask for help,” said Olivia. “I’m really passionate about leadership, and I’ve come to realize that it’s not just about a person standing on a stage with a microphone telling people what to do. It’s about being collaborative and asking what others want.”
She also initially joined the debate team, and while she did well articulating her arguments, she found it too structured and felt that she didn’t have the freedom to truly speak her mind. So, she joined Von Steuben’s slam poetry team instead and loved it from the get-go. Her poems are often centered on how others view her versus how she views herself.
“Slam poetry club is a great place to vent about anything from personal experiences to issues in society,” said Olivia. “My relationship with the club is rooted in saying what I’m feeling and giving my opinion in a way that is well-articulated and can still be well-received.”
Fellow graduate Tiffany Lam also has her extracurricular activities to thank for some of the lasting memories she will take with her from Von Steuben. As a dedicated cross-country and track runner, she knows she’ll never forget her meets. She was also heavily involved in Vietnamese Club and always looked forward to performing a traditional Vietnamese fan dance for her school community during Von Steuben’s International Night.
“Being Vietnamese, I was able to embrace my culture more at Von Steuben because Vietnamese Club always reminded me that I had peers who grew up in the same way that I did,” said Tiffany. “It was almost like finding another home.”
Looking back on her time at Von Steuben, Tiffany almost laughs thinking about how she used to be afraid to ask her teachers for help. Now, she takes advantage of tutoring often and has learned that her teachers are a valuable resource when pushing herself academically. She’s also learned that it’s okay for her interests to change. In elementary school, she remembers hating learning about the periodic table, but in high school, AP Chemistry ended up being her favorite class and now she’s planning to pursue a biochemistry major in college at Loyola University Chicago. Though a challenging path to take, her time at Von Steuben has created a strong academic foundation that she knows she’ll be able to build upon moving forward.
“No matter what other people say, I’m just going to pursue what I love and what I’m passionate about,” said Tiffany. “My time in high school has been life-changing and I can’t believe this is where I’m at right now.”