Graduation is right around the corner for high school seniors. We at Sora are proud of our own graduating seniors for their hard work, passion, and devotion to making Sora an amazing school. So we decided to interview them to give you a firsthand look at what it’s like to be a Sora student. This week, we’re highlighting Hannah’s story.
John: Welcome, Hannah. It’s great to meet you.
Hannah: It’s good to meet you too.
John: Why don’t we start with how long you’ve been at Sora?
Hannah: I’ve been a student at Sora since the very beginning. I started Sora with the first wave of students. So I’ve been here for almost two years.
John: When it came to first joining Sora, how did you hear about it? And what were some of the reasons you decided to be a part of Sora?
Hannah: I decided to look for STEM schools in the greater Atlanta area, because I was homeschooled my whole life and knew things needed to change. There was only so much my mom could teach me when it came to advanced STEM topics. So I was looking online for STEM schools and stumbled upon an article, and what [Sora] was offering is exactly what I wanted. It would still be like the homeschool experience because it’s adaptable, but I would get the rigor.
John: It sounds like you were still wanting the flexibility and customizability that you know and love from homeschooling. But you were wanting to expand and get into more advanced content.
Hannah: Definitely. I’ve kind of taught myself for most of my schooling, so having the Experts [at Sora] was something I was really looking forward to. When I first met them, I was like, “Okay, I have the right people to help me now.”
John: I’d love to hear more about the projects at Sora.
Hannah: I hadn’t done any projects before, because it felt like a waste of time the way projects are usually adapted into education. But the projects that are done here [at Sora] are way different. You’re building a rocket. It’s like a collegiate research project on a smaller scale. That’s why I liked it and thought it was different.
John: Yeah, I especially noticed when you used the phrase, “worth it.” I was wondering if you could speak more about how the projects at Sora feel worth it to you.
Hannah: Everything I’ve done has felt so worth it. Michael, [Sora’s Humanities Expert], just lets me run with anything I think of. One of my projects was comparing Edgar Allan Poe’s, “The Mask of the Red Death,” to how quarantining was being shown in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. And even the little things that I learned about medical history–I run with that now, and it’s worth it to give me perspective. With most of the projects, the number one thing I take away is perspective. And perspective from an academic and personal standpoint–it pushes me outside of my comfort zone. A lot of the projects provided a reflection on myself. They helped me choose my major for college. They help you pinpoint where you want to go. And it’s all about trial and error. Trial and error makes everything worth it at Sora.
John: So we’ve been talking a little bit about your experience with the projects. Is there any other aspect of your experience at Sora that has been a highlight for you?
Hannah: It’s cheesy to say the whole thing, but I’ve made so many close friends. I and most of the students from the very beginning–we’re all friends, and we’re all supportive. So we’re excited to see the community grow. Everyone was impressive from the start. It’s a safe community to grow yourself and grow with other people at the same time. Even the faculty–everyone is making Sora what it is. It’s the people behind it.
John: Yeah, I love the growth element. What are some of the ways that you would say you’ve grown from your peers?
Hannah: I think growing with my peers was seeing how they grew as well. You see that it’s okay to mess up. You see other people stumble over presentations and think, “I’m in the exact same boat,” and you can go together from there. We all grew together through group projects. The other students also provide inspiration. There was a student. She’s bilingual. Her encouraging me to dip my toes back into Spanish again has allowed me to grow more in my Spanish ability. Seeing other people being so happy and fascinated with what they’re doing inspires you to push yourself to do more.
John: You said earlier that dabbling in tailored education helped you to eventually pick your major. I’d love to hear more about that.
Hannah: I started out saying, “I just want to go into a STEM career.” But that’s a very broad thing. So my first project at Sora was a rocket, and I realized that I don’t want to go into rocketry. But that was a spark to help me realize that I loved working with my hands and having a physical aspect to what I’m learning. [When it’s] just theoretical, there’s a disconnect for me. I wanted to make an impact and be able to see the impact from what I was doing. So I chose Biomedical Engineering as my degree. There’s a lot of biomedical engineers that are working on projects that are applying cardiac dynamics in the real world with devices and products with medical professionals.
John: You sound like a pro already! Have you been accepted anywhere?
Hannah: I got into the University of Tennessee and Mercer University. I decided to go to Mercer. It’s sort of like Sora in the passion they have for communities and people.
John: Absolutely. How prepared are you feeling going into college?
Hannah: I feel scared out of my mind, but I think I’ve been set up well with my past projects. I’ve been doing projects that are always drawing me to biomedical engineering. I think I have a good grasp of what the field is. I didn’t just choose a major because it sounds interesting. I’ve learned from mentors at Sora about what it’s like to work in that field.
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