Student of the Week, March 3, 2014
After-school activities: Viola and piano Lessons, Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra, teaching piano lessons, art, Young Chautauqua, robotics, Knowledge Bowl, mountain biking and skiing.
Favorite books: “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak or “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen.
Favorite TV show: “Downton Abbey” (but I also like “Law and Order”).
Favorite band or musician: William Primrose (he’s a famous violist from the last half of the 20th century). I also really like the Beatles, though.
Parents: Mike and Astrid Stoye.
Personal hero and why: Abigail Adams. I think she was so ahead of her time in advocating for women’s rights and didn’t care if people disagreed with her. But she balanced that determination with such eloquent writing that people ended up actually admiring her.
Preferred college: Harvard University.
Preferred career: Well… I don’t really know. I like architecture and literature and math and history and law and music, of course. So there’s sort of a dilemma. But I think it’s OK, because that way I can explore more in college. I’ve decided that I’m going to start as undecided.
Greatest achievement so far: Winning the Symphony in the Valley Young Artists’ Concerto Competition last spring. I got to play with the symphony in May as a soloist, which was an incredible experience.
What you’d like to be your next greatest achievement: I don’t know — I don’t really want to hope for anything, because then it might not happen. So we’ll see what the future brings.
Q: What was the most memorable lesson you ever learned in a class?
A: There are so many — it’s hard to decide because I think that’s what school is about, more than just the academic lessons. You learn so many lessons about humanity and the world and that’s what you’ll really use in the future. A few days ago, we were talking about the Cold War in my History of the Americas class, and the different beliefs people had on who caused the conflict. There were those who agreed with what U.S. society dictated at the time (and criticized the Soviets), others who refuted everything, and later others who thought it was a mixture of the two. In reading these theories, I realized that they were all right — it was just that both sides saw the world in different ways. The Soviets thought total equality should be foremost and the Americans wanted freedom but, ultimately, the two sides both wanted the same thing — worldwide influence. Because they didn’t understand the other’s perspective, they misinterpreted their actions, creating conflict. I think that problem is commonplace: We often judge others’ or our own actions on how we see the world, and forget that everyone thinks differently. If we could only sympathize with others, I think — no, I know — we would have a better world.
Q: What subject or extracurricular activity are you most passionate about and why?
A: I was going to say that I’m split between volunteering and music, but I just saw the next question so I’ll talk about volunteering later. Anyway, music is one of my favorite things to do and that’s why I’ve been able to pursue it so competitively without getting worn out. I remember I wanted to play the piano so badly when I was like 4 or 5 and I had this toy piano I taught myself some pieces on, like “Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star” or “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” My parents finally let me start taking lessons (as a present) when I was 6. And ever since, playing both of my instruments, viola and piano, has been just this wonderful time for me, a sort of release from the world and all of its problems. It was one of the best presents I’ve ever gotten.
Q: Describe a time when you knew you made a difference in the community or someone else’s life.
A: Like I said previously, volunteering is one of my great passions. I’m in the process of applying to schools right now, and one of my essays talks about it, that wonderful feeling when you look into someone’s eyes and you know you’ve made a difference. Right now, my big community project is for this program called Young Chautauqua. It’s where kids research a historical figure, write a monologue from that person’s perspective, and present it acting as him or her. I participated in it from fifth until 10th grade and did Abigail Adams and Anne Frank. The lessons I learned from understanding such profound human beings are things I’ll never forget and I wanted other kids to be able to experience. So, I’m creating this blog with Colorado Humanities to promote Young Chautauqua across the state. It’s like a mix of my perspective on doing Young Chautauqua, plus monthly articles on how to make a good performance. I’m really excited about it — since it’s almost finished, it should be up on the Internet soon.
Q: What are your goals for after high school?
A: Well, here’s the thing. This summer, I got to experience so much — I went to a three-week camp at Stanford University, which is close to my hometown of Menlo Park, Calif., and also got to fly to the East Coast with my dad. In visiting all these places, I realized that there’s so much more for me to see in the world. I like everything, so I can explore first, and then I’ll find something out there that’s perfect. My only criterion is that I’ll make some sort of a difference in the world.
Q: What is your dream job?
A: I would love to be one of those people who are at the forefront of everything — they are making decisions that will impact lots of peoples’ lives, kind of like the president. But I don’t know about that government shutdown business ... ha ha, maybe I’ll be a celebrity instead. That way I can still be famous but no one will dislike me.