This September, the Verto Fall 2020 cohorts will start life-changing semesters to change their perspectives, gain clarity on their purpose and earn college credits. We caught up with some of these interesting and ambitious high school graduates to hear more about where they’re coming from and what they’re looking forward to during their Verto semester(s).

From all across the world, our incoming class includes students with a wide variety of interests, backgrounds, high school experiences and goals. Without further ado, let’s meet the Verto Education Class of Fall 2020!

Eva Ridenhour

Eva Ridenhour, South Pacific

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

My schooling experience was a bit unconventional. Up until high school, I was homeschooled, and I accelerated two grades, but apart from that transition into a less weird format, high school itself was relatively normal. I did theater and was heavily involved with the school newspaper. High school did inspire a weird love of foreign language, which in turn inspired a love of travel. I ended up graduating at the age of 16 in 2019, and I used the extra time to travel a bit. Last year I took my first gap year and did a language immersion program in France for three months or so. It was genuinely the most terrifying and wild thing I’ve ever done, but was also really rewarding and frankly, a blast. Naturally, I’m now planning to travel again.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I spend most of my time baking (I made a tiramisù last week) knitting (I’m currently trying to knit a blanket) playing video games (read as playing lethal league blades with my brother and shouting a lot) or writing (political or various fiction type genres) depending on how productive I’m feeling. I also listen to a lot of podcasts, comedy and audio dramas.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

Experiencing something entirely new. I’m not usually the most outdoorsy or athletic person, but I am really jazzed about pushing outside of my comfort zone for the South Pacific program. It is unlike anything I have tried before, be it in location or activity. That makes me excited.

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

I’m applying to several colleges in the northeastern United States, but I’m really not all that sure yet. I want to study something with linguistics and culture, though, whatever that may end up looking like.

"I am really jazzed about pushing outside of my comfort zone for the South Pacific program. It is unlike anything I have tried before, be it in location or activity. That makes me excited"
- Eva Ridenhour

Ahnesti

Ahnesti Lynch, Latin America

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

High school was a journey to remember. There were many ups and downs that one goes through to end up at graduation during their senior year. These last 4 years of high school was an awesome time to remember. I made so many friends and lost some along the way. During my junior year of high school, I traveled outside the country for the very first time. It was an amazing experience to be in an element of another culture and environment. Traveling outside the country really opened my eyes to parts of the world that I never knew of. After that trip, I knew that I wanted to travel the world, and explore it on my own. I am the type of individual who goes for what they want. When there is a goal I try to reach, I work my hardest to obtain it in my own time. Many people that know me can say that I am the kindest, respectful, and loving person that they have ever met. I love showing love and kindness to others because the world would be a better place with more of it. Overall, I just really enjoyed my high school experience and would say I don't regret any of it.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I enjoy bingeing Netflix shows, spend time with family, and listen to music. Taking time for myself on certain days is very important for me mentally. When there are a lot of things going on in life I try to take those tasks one day at a time. Having activities that I enjoy doing makes the day feel better.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

I am so excited about my semester abroad this fall!! I can't wait to meet my fellow classmates and teachers to experience something unimaginable. Being out of the country is just what I am mostly looking forward to. I can't wait to indulge myself within the culture, and figure out where my passions will lead me.

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

As of right now, my plans after VERTO are undecided at the moment. I definitely want to attend college after completing a year abroad, but I don't know where. It is just confusing because I don't know what direction or field to lean towards to at the moment. All I know is that I am sure about going abroad with VERTO.

"To be able to use my knowledge from Verto, and apply that first hand experience in which I will obtain to the classrooms at UT."
- Seamus Masone

Seamus Masone

Seamus Masone, Latin America

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

I am from Fairfield County, Connecticut. I am pretty outgoing and enjoy meeting new people. I love sports; especially at the collegiate level. My high school experience was no different than most students. I did a bunch of extracurricular activities, studied to keep my grades in check, and simultaneously balanced hanging out with my friends. I like visiting new places; I have been very fortunate and have traveled outside of the United States a few times. Some words I would use to describe myself are determined, hardworking, caring, and adventurous.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I hang out with my friends, watch/play sports & games, and exercise. Some other things I do in my free time are lifeguarding in the summer, and working in food service during the school year. As well as volunteering at my church, with Boy Scouts, and any other chance I have.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

I’m really looking forward to meeting new people and creating lifelong friendships. The opportunity Verto Education has given me to further my education in exciting areas like Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic is amazing. I am an outdoorsy person so the ability to hike, zip line, and do other activities during my semester will be awesome; definitely something I will not take for granted!

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

I plan on attending the University of Tennessee - Knoxville after my semester with Verto Education. I will be studying Hospitality and Tourism Management. I am stoked to have this opportunity. To be able to use my knowledge from Verto, and apply that first-hand experience in which I will obtain to the classrooms at UT.

"I can't wait to indulge myself within the culture, and figure out where my passions will lead me."
- Ahnesti Lynch

Tea Van Linde

Tea Van Linde, South Pacific

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

I went to Emmaus High School which is a few blocks away from my house. This came in handy when I had to go home after school and then right back to rehearsal. I have been involved in the theatre and choir departments for the past four years. This year I was the treasurer of theatre dept, treasurer of my acapella group, and vice president of select choir. Most of my fondest memories from performances and rehearsals with my best friends. Overall I had a great high school experience and tried to get involved with as many activities as possible.
I have had quite a few wonderful experiences traveling with friends and family. My family and I stay in Westport Ontario, Canada every summer. The first time I went up to the cottages on Blair’s Grandview Farm I was only 2 months old and since then it has become a second home to me. I have also been to Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, France, Iceland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Italy. My Oma and Opa immigrated from the Netherlands to the US right before my mom was born. Both times I have visited we have stayed for about a month and seen many family members. I love being half dutch and feeling so connected to another country. A few years ago I went to Iceland with my best friend’s family and I absolutely loved it because you can see so much beautiful land in every direction. We got to explore so many waterfalls and hot springs. Every day was an adventure. My all-time favorite trip has to be the Concert Tour of Italy I took with my high school chorale last year. We were able to sing in so many amazing places like the St. John the Divine, Doge’s Palace, AND the Sistine Chapel. Singing in such respected places was a huge highlight, but it was also so exciting to explore a new city every day. Having every single one of my best friends there was what made the trip spectacular.
I would describe myself as kind, energetic, curious, friendly, and fun. I love spending time with my friends and meeting new people. It is usually difficult to find me in my house because I love being out and about with my friends. It is rare that I have a day without plans as I seem to never run out of energy and it is important to me to spend as much time with my friends as possible before we all go to college. Quarantine has been no help with this mindset.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I love spending time with my friends. Whether that means going on hikes, out to eat, to a movie, or just staying in I will spend most of my time with them. I also like to play the ukulele and write songs. Over the summers you can usually find me at the Lower Macungie Pool as I have two jobs there as a Swim Coach and a LIfeguard. Sadly, the pool won’t be open this summer and as I spend about 13 hours a day there, I am a little stumped on how to spend my time. Hopefully, I can find a new job, but I am also hoping to make up for lost time with my friends once quarantine ends.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

I am most looking forward to being outside all of the time. I went to an environmental charter school for elementary school and we spent so much time outside so it will be nice to experience that kind of learning again. I absolutely love waterfalls and pretty much all bodies of water so activities like hiking, white water rafting, and swimming are all things I am really looking forward to. I don’t know what I want to do with my life yet, but I do know that I love exploring new places and meeting new people so I think Verto is a great place to start figuring it out.

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

As of now, I deferred from the University of Delaware. They gave me a generous scholarship and I like the size and location of the campus. However, if that doesn’t work out I have no problem going with the flow and seeing where I end up after my travels in the South Pacific and Latin America.

"I don’t know what I want to do with my life yet, but I do know that I love exploring new places and meeting new people so I think Verto is a great place to start figuring it out."
- Tea Van Linde

Jake Bradbury

Jake Bradbury, England

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

My name is Jake, I'm 18, and I'm from Austin, Texas. As I went through high school, I learned a lot about myself, but more importantly I learned what I didn't want to be. Because of this, I try to always maintain a motivated spirit and be as empathetic as I can. My friends and family know me for these traits and I hope to continue to improve upon them as I enter college.

What do you like to do in your free time?

My free time consists of either making or listening to music almost all of the time, and I'm very proud of the work that I've accomplished, and the strife I've used music to cope with.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

I hope my Verto semester in London will allow me to meet people that can relate to me more than the kids I grew up with, and help me make lifelong friendships. I think inherently, since everyone is living in a foreign country and is more or less in the same boat, Verto semesters facilitate community more than any other educational program, and I'm excited to be a part of it.

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

After Verto, whether that's the spring of 2021 or the fall of that same year, I plan on attending the University of Oregon and majoring in psychology before hopefully earning my graduate degree in a specialization of psychology relating to trauma. A big thanks to everyone at Verto, I'm excited for this next chapter!

"I am definitely the type of person who always tries to look for the best in things."
- Rosie Darvas

Rosie Darvas

Rosie Darvas, Latin America

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

I went to Rockledge High School, which is in a small town on the east coast of Florida. High school definitely taught me the importance of being true to who you are. Throughout high school, I experienced ups and downs, as most teenagers do. My parents got divorced, I pulled one too many all-nighters to cram for a test, and I spent countless hours training for sports. However, I have made friends with some of the most incredible people, I’ve laughed at the simplest of things, and I have learned how to always persist.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I am definitely the type of person who always tries to look for the best in things. I usually spend my free time at the beach or going for runs.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

I’m looking forward to having the chance to visit new places with Verto because I never really was able to travel throughout high school.

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

I’m looking forward to having the chance to visit new places with Verto because I never really was able to travel throughout high school. I haven’t decided where I’ll go after Verto, but I can’t wait to start exploring the world.

“Since everyone is living in a foreign country and is more or less in the same boat, Verto semesters facilitate community more than any other educational program, and I'm excited to be a part of it.”
- Jake Bradbury

Sam Sedlitz

Sam Sedlitz, South Pacific

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

High school was a rough time for me. I struggled with making friends, focusing, and time management. I was bullied for a very long time in High school until I started at a new school. I made a ton of friends and went through so much in which aided my self-love and appreciation. I have traveled before! I absolutely love traveling. I love seeing new places and learning about new cultures. I would describe myself as out-going, energetic, open-hearted, funny, spontaneous, charismatic, and athletic.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love playing sports and listening to music. I also enjoy cooking and card games. I enjoy animals, dancing, and working out.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

I am most looking forward to learning about the culture in the areas I am traveling to. Also to meeting new people and making new friends.

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

I am currently deciding between James Madison University and the University of Tennessee.

"I am most looking forward to learning about the culture in the areas I am traveling to. Also to meeting new people and making new friends."
- Sam Sedlitz

Paloma Aguas Mendoza

Paloma Aguas Mendoza, Latin America

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

My name is Paloma Aguas, I am from the Bay Area, California. I love to travel and I can’t wait to see new places and meet new people !! I love my family, friends and my pets. I have a pet pig !! If that excites anyone lol.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love playing softball and hanging out with my friends and getting food and boba.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

I’m looking for having a great time studying abroad and making new friends.

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

Not yet!

"I am looking forward to getting out of my comfort zone and learning more about myself and others."
-Dana Dorman

Dana Dorman

Dana Dorman, England

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

My name is Dana Dorman. I have dual citizenship which is the United States of America and Sophia Bulgaria. I was adopted when I was one and half years old in Sophia Bulgaria and then brought into the U.S. High School was very interesting for me, I went to boarding school in Saint Louis MO for three years of my High School experience. So you could say I didn't have a normal High School life. I was required to play a sport every season so I am a three V athlete. I was on a Mock Trial team for two years. At my Private school, we had House Competitions just like in Harry Potter we would take days off from school to compete. My school also had an expedition/ exploration week where each grade level but 12th grade would go somewhere in the U.S for a week in the fall and go white water rafting or hiking. If you were in 12th grade you would have a senior retreat in Michigan. I have traveled all over the world every since I was one year old. My favorite place I have traveled so far has been to Isreal with my fellow classmates and seeing the Wailing Wall. I also really enjoyed this trip since I got to know more about my classmates and more diversity. I would describe my self as some who is humble, patient, friendly, and honest.

What do you like to do in your free time?

What I like to do in my free time is usually hang with my friends whether it is playing tennis on the court to being a cheerleader on the sidelines. I also do some modeling on the side which has been really fun. My all-time favorite thing to do in my free time in making videos about the places I've been and creating fun and exciting videos for my classmates and me to watch.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

I am looking forward to getting out of my comfort zone and learning more about myself and others. I'm also interested in learning just more about culture and diversity and see how it has a big impact on the world we live in today.

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

At the moment I'm not sure what my plans after Verto are. I'm deciding if I want to go SCAD, UTK, or travel in the spring as well.

“I love to travel and I can’t wait to see new places and meet new people”
-Paloma Aguas Mendoza

Grace

Grace Mejia, Latin America

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

I love the outdoors, being very involved in my community, and helping others! High school was a blast while it lasted it i was on every sports team and joined almost every extracurricular activity! I’ve traveled to Italy, Greece, and a few other places! I would describe myself as fun, adventurous, outgoing, and friendly.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I like to play volleyball and go hammocking! I also enjoy a good book every once in a while.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

I’m most excited about immersing right into the culture in Costa Rica and just making the most of my time!

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

I hope to attend a Verto partner college.

"I love the outdoors, being very involved in my community, and helping others!"
- Grace Mejia

Jordyn

Jordyn Turek, Latin America

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

Hello, my name is Jordyn Turek. I am an adventurous person and enjoy trying new things and meeting new people. High school was fun. I played varsity basketball for five years and developed many friendships on the team, and I always had a close relationship with my teachers which made school easier. I played competitive basketball for a club team and we traveled every year to many states and competed against some of the best teams.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I enjoy working out and going on walks with my dog. I also like doing little projects and learning how to cook.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

I am really looking forward to using my Spanish and improving it as well as meeting new people and being able to learn about the culture and many other things.

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

My plans after Verto are to attend Lynn University in Boca Ratón, Florida where I will major in criminal justice and Spanish.

"I am most looking forward to seeing and traveling around countries with completely different cultures than my own."
-Halliday Dinsmore-Patch

Halliday

Halliday Dinsmore-Patch, Latin America

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

My high school experience wasn't great, which is one of the reasons why I'm so excited to start fresh with Verto. I traveled a lot as a kid, my family actually did a 5-week cross-country trip when I was in third grade. However, I have never traveled internationally (unless the Canada side of Niagra Falls counts).

What do you like to do in your free time?

I spend a lot of time with my pup, Bosn, whenever I can find the time. He loves exploring with me, and I love being able to find new, cool places to take him around where I live. Aside from Bosn, I like to play volleyball, hike, practice and teach yoga, and workout.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

I am most looking forward to seeing and traveling around countries with completely different cultures than my own. Specifically, I am very excited to learn about the indigenous tribes in the DR.

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

I haven't really established any solid plans post-Verto. As of right now, my tentative plan is to take the spring semester off and spend time working, and potentially going to the University of New Hampshire in the fall of 2021.

I am really looking forward to using my Spanish and improving it as well as meeting new people and being able to learn about the culture and many other things.”
-Jordyn Turek

Daniel

Daniel Wischmeier, Latin America

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

I went to Adams Central Jr-Sr High School in Hastings, NE. I have never left the US. I’m really outgoing and I love being around people.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I like to cook, play the piano, and study Spanish and German.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

I am most looking forward to improving my Spanish and meeting new people.

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

After Verto, I would like to attend either the University of South Florida or the University of Bristol to study ESL Education.

"I am most looking forward to improving my Spanish and meeting new people."
-Daniel Wischmeier

Carina

Carina Crane, Latin America

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

High school was amazing! I was really able to figure out who I am as a person and dive into things that really interest me. I spent a semester abroad in Australia during my sophomore year and it was life-changing. I became hooked on traveling and stepping out of my comfort zone. I have always loved traveling and meeting new people. I have always loved doing things differently and not taking the traditional route. I am a very passionate and motivated person. I am a very appreciative person and am so grateful to have had so many experiences in high school that have shaped me as a person. I love being spontaneous and am always up for something new.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love doing anything outside. I live in Vermont so the outdoors are right outside my door. I love spending time with friends and family.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

I am really excited to become a family with the rest of my semester. I love forming really genuine friendships. I am so excited to be somewhere totally new and just explore. I am so psyched about everything that this Verto semester will entail because I really think it will be an experience like no other and something that I will never forget.

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

I am attending University of Vermont after Verto and plan to study environmental studies.

"I'm so excited to meet new people, learn in a different way than I ever have and to be immersed in a completely new culture"
-Bella Bleu

Bella

Bella Bleu, South Pacific

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

I'm Bella, I went to school in Northern California in a small lil hippie town called Sebastopol. If it wasn’t for the amazing group of friends I made throughout High school, my entire experience would have been very very different. I was lucky enough to meet these amazing heartfelt, welcoming, sweet, accepting, and all-around well-rounded humans that made sure to make our four years together awesome. Looking back at it, I really enjoyed high school, I had good company and shared countless giggles and cool experiences with all my pals:)
I have so much respect and gratitude towards my parents who choose to spend their money on traveling. I have been fortunate enough to have seen the gorgeous temples in Thailand, walked along the beaches in Mexico, swam in the crystal clear water in the Bahamas, and ate fresh baked goods from France with my family.
When I was 15, I did a three-month exchange with someone similar to my age in Vannes, France. This was one of the coolest parts of my high school experience and I made a french sister for life, we still talk every day.
Last summer, a group of friends from my high school took a backpacking trip to Italy. I worked all throughout my Junior year to save up for this entire trip myself. This trip was so sick, we made four stops over the course of three weeks while carrying 20-pound backpacks, we went to Rome, Genova, Florence, and Venice. This was such an amazing, life-changing trip and I felt so independent and made friendships with people that will last me a lifetime.
To describe myself I would say I'm adventures and creative. I like to think I'm kind and thoughtful and trying always to be inclusive and accepting of others:)

What do you like to do in your free time?

While I do spend a lot of my free time with my friends, I do love creating art, its a time that almost feels like a meditation, a time that I can create and turn off any overwhelming thinking and just balance myself. I always feel most creative and in tune with myself when I am traveling and get inspired by the culture and new ways of life around me. I love it when I can get super into a book and can’t put it down and have the time to just lounge and chill reading. I enjoy hiking, biking, and going to the beach. I am very lucky to live in a place that gives me so much access to outdoor adventures and when the weather is nice, I try to be outside as much as possible.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

AHWHH everything, I'm so excited to meet new people, learn in a different way than I ever have and to be immersed in a completely new culture. I can’t wait to study the course topics and learn outside of the traditional classroom setting. I'm super stoked to see the traditions and culture of Fiji, explore the nature of New Zealand, and see all the adorable animals of Australia and so much more! I could not be MORE STOKED! I can’t wait to meet you all!

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

As of May 27th, 2020 I have zero clue what I'm doing after my semester. I have lots of ideas about where I might want to go, but I can’t seem to make a decision. I want to explore colleges outside of the United States, but who knows what the future holds. All I know is everything happens for a reason and it all has a way of working out.

“ I am so psyched about everything that this Verto semester will entail because I really think it will be an experience like no other and something that I will never forget.”
-Carina Crane

Daria

Daria Braithwaite, England

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

Hi, my name is Daria but I like to be called Dasha. I live in the United States but I am from Belgorod, Russia. I have traveled a lot with my family and we have been to cool places, like Alaska and Canada many times.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with animals. I have worked with horses for most of my life, and at home, I have a Siberian husky, 3 cats, and a bunch of chickens. I play the violin and I take dance classes too.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

I can't wait for my Verto semester in England. I'm excited to explore London and meet new friends. Going abroad freshman year is a unique opportunity and decision so I can't wait to share my experience when I return.

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

After Verto, I will attend the University of Vermont to major in biology.

"Going abroad freshman year is a unique opportunity and decision so I can't wait to share my experience when I return."
-Daria Braithwaite

Lulu

Lulu Anderson, South Pacific

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

My name is Lulu Anderson. I grew up in Portland Oregon, I went to Beaverton High School. During my first two years of high school I was on the varsity cheer team and during my last year of high school I joined the snowboarding team. If others were to describe me they would say I’m shy at first but once you get to know me you’ll find that I am funny, very energetic, and easy to talk to.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Some things I enjoy doing in my free time are snowboarding, hiking, rock climbing, skateboarding, biking, drawing, and doing yoga.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

I'm looking forward to meeting new people, try new foods, and learn about other cultures on my journey with Verto.

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

After Verto, I plan to go to college at Oregon State University-Cascades in Bend, OR.

"I'm looking forward to all of the new friendships and unplanned excitements we will share together!"
-Lyla Hayutin-Baril

Lyla

Lyla Hayutin-Baril, South Pacific

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

I went to a high school with 200 kids, with a graduation class of 42. My small town is known for its delicious peaches and produce! I love to laugh and have deep conversations.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I like to skateboard, go on adventures and listen to music.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

I'm looking forward to all of the new friendships and unplanned excitements we will share together!

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

After my year with Verto, I will be attending Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR.

“I'm looking forward to meeting new people, try new foods, and learn about other cultures on my journey with Verto.”
-Lulu Anderson

Lucas

Lucas Blocher, Spain

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

Being at a boarding school for the last 2 years of high school made me more independent because it gave me an early college experience by living in dorms and being able to my own laundry. In addition to being a boarding school, it was extremely diverse with students from California, New York, Ohio, Texas, Germany, Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Bermuda. This amazing experience gave me the opportunity to hear the ideas of others, which help me better my opinions to change my perspective. Every wonderful conversation let me open my mind to new possibilities, and widen my horizons.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love learning foreign languages primarily in the categories of Indo-European Languages and Latin Languages. I speak English and Spanish, and I'm learning Italian and Russian. I also greatly enjoy going to different restaurants to try different foods from various countries such as Venezuelan Arepas & Patacones, Italian Arancini & Cannoli, Chinese Peking duck & steam buns, German Currywurst & Königsberger Klopse, and Spanish Croquetas & Paella. I enjoy traveling to different countries learning about the constituents of the people living there. I also do Martial Arts, and whatever I want that week/month like singing with the Ukulele, memorizing every country’s capital, or doing a backflip.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

I am most excited to have the chance to study, eat, and talk with like-minded people; to immerse myself in the lifestyle of being in an active European city such as Madrid! Having this incredible experience will give me the opportunity to make meaningful relationships, and to help build life-long connections that will further my networking abilities. My hope is that this life-changing journey will propel my success all the way through college.

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

After completing Verto I plan to attend Hofstra University using the skills that I would have learned from the on-campus experience in Madrid. I will carry the lessons from Verto with me into college.

"Having this incredible experience will give me the opportunity to make meaningful relationships, and to help build life-long connections that will further my networking abilities."
-Lucas Blocher

"Having this incredible experience will give me the opportunity to make meaningful relationships, and to help build life-long connections that will further my networking abilities."
-Lucas Blocher

Luke

Luke Boyd, Latin America Cohort

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

My name is Luke, I am 18 years old and am blessed to be traveling with Verto this upcoming fall! High School for me, honestly wasn't the best experience. I struggled throughout the years and felt out of place. I had my personal problems, and they took over my life instead of my education. I am a huge fan of travel though, as the past 2 summers I have traveled abroad to the Dominican Republic (2018) and Tanzania (2019). I built homes and community buildings in the DR, and taught kids English in Tanzania. I as well got to experience the culture and the joys of these countries, which were the best times of my life. I would describe myself as funny, respectable, and kind. I was raised by my mother to act and behave in a proper manner.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I enjoy playing basketball the most. My friends and I play basketball almost every day. Basketball is a fun activity where I get to be active as well as have a great time. I enjoy just relaxing, sleep is a big thing for me! I love to drive around and explore, just finding new places to go to and hike, swim, or just enjoy the new places I find.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

I am looking forward to the culture and location the most for my upcoming Verto semester. As I said, I love to explore new places and meet new people, from my prior experience, it is the best times I've had in my life. I am so excited for my Verto semester.

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

My Post-Verto plans are looking great! I have been accepted into Lynn University and University of Southern Maine. I have not yet committed to one school, but I am unbelievably thankful for the Verto program for helping me get accepted into these schools. I plan on working toward a Social Working/Counseling degree. I am blessed to be joining the Verto program this Fall!

"I believe this experience will be full of enlightenment and positivity. "
-Kylie Garrett

"I believe this experience will be full of enlightenment and positivity. "
-Kylie Garrett

kylie garrett

Kylie Garrett, Latin America

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

My name is Kylie Garrett, and I’m a graduate of Legacy High School. My high school experience was pretty difficult at times; I was my school’s Student Body President for the 2019-2020 school year, and although high school was stressful (and I will never want to do it again), I was able to gain some rewarding experiences. I’ve only ever traveled within the states, so I’m so excited to be able to spend this semester overseas in Costa Rica. I would describe myself as an honest, integral leader. Although I’m more introverted than my peers, I always stand up for what’s right and I try my best to advocate for those who may have trouble doing it for themselves. I’m an animal lover and I enjoy nature. I get bored very easily, so I embrace change and adventure.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Whenever I get free time, I mostly listen to music, sometimes I like to paint, and sometimes I’d rather sleep.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

I’m excited to experience our fun activities like hiking, and visiting different places and villages. But I’m mostly excited to be able learn more about the locals and their lifestyle. I believe this experience will be full of enlightenment and positivity.

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

After my Verto Semester, I plan to attend the University of Oregon to major in pre-law.

“I have been accepted into Lynn University and University of Southern Maine. I have not yet committed to one school, but I am unbelievably thankful for the Verto program for helping me get accepted into these schools.”
-Luke Boyd

Amelia K.

Amelia Ketelsleger, Hawaii

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

I would say my high school experience was pretty well-rounded. I attended an art-focused school in which I was a member of the Dance Company as well as the dance team, which is called a POMs team in Montgomery County. I had a close group of girlfriends and we would attend all the sporting events and school activities, and I did take the AP course. Overall I would say I am an outgoing person. I enjoy meeting new people and challenging myself to go outside my comfort zone. While I have traveled throughout the United States, I have not been outside the country since I was born. Even though I will be attending the Hawaii in-field semester, there is a rich culture that I am excited to learn more about.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Given I committed four years of high school into dance, I love to dance in my free time. However, I do keep myself active through other forms of exercise such as running and figure skating. I also spend a lot of time with my friends: trying new restaurants, seeking out adventures, and just chilling out at someone’s house. I work at my local ice rink, so I do have that commitment as well.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

I have never been to Hawaii before so I am extremely excited to immerse myself in a different environment and culture. I am also excited to get into environmental work and stay with locals. A thing I value a lot in life is the relationships you build, so I am looking forward to making friendships that I can carry throughout college and hopefully beyond.

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

I have been accepted into the University of Maryland - College Park for the Spring 2021 semester and plan to attend post-Verto. I have said throughout high school that I want to experience life outside a classroom before starting college and Verto provides me with the opportunity to gain life experience as well as be on track to graduate in four years.

"A thing I value a lot in life is the relationships you build, so I am looking forward to making friendships that I can carry throughout college and hopefully beyond."
-Amelia Ketelsleger

"A thing I value a lot in life is the relationships you build, so I am looking forward to making friendships that I can carry throughout college and hopefully beyond. "
- Amelia Ketelsleger

Finigan Reuter, Spain

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

I’ve loved high school and everything it’s brought me because in most situations I could really turn everything into a social gathering of some sort!

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time I tend to do a lot of new things and switch it up often. Recently I’ve moved from art and drawing to working on cars.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

Verto caught my attention for the same reason that I’m most excited for it, it’s an opportunity to not only learn and immerse myself in a new community but also expand the group of people that I have close connections with.

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

I’ll be attending the University of Oregon next year and possibly transferring to a school in Cali sophomore year!

"I am most looking forward to learning a new language and to learn about ways we can improve global health."
-Sydney Lehrer

"A thing I value a lot in life is the relationships you build, so I am looking forward to making friendships that I can carry throughout college and hopefully beyond. "
- Amelia Ketelsleger

Sydney Lehrer, Latin America

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

My name is Sydney Lehrer and I am from Flemington, New Jersey. Verto was the perfect choice for me because I have always loved traveling and was lucky enough to have many great opportunities to travel abroad throughout high school. I have been to many amazing places, from South Africa to Ecuador to Australia and have loved every experience!

What do you like to do in your free time?

Throughout high school I spent most of my time at swim practice, swim meets, or hanging out with my swim friends. Although I will miss my swim family I am very excited to do something completely different!

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

I am most looking forward to learning a new language and to learn about ways we can improve global health.

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

After my Verto semester I will be attending Raritan Valley Community College and Rutgers University the following year!

"It’s an opportunity to not only learn and immerse myself in a new community but also expand the group of people that I have close connections with."
-Finigan Reuter

"I have always loved traveling, it's been a part of my life since I was little. I'm fascinated by different cultures and learning more about nature and different ecosystems."
-Max Bairstow

Max Bairstow, South Pacific

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

I was never a huge fan of school, but especially high school. I have attended 10 different schools from 1st grade up to 10th grade, which was when I graduated. I have done it all- private, public, charter, and homeschool. None of them really worked for me. Don't get me wrong, I have always had a passion for learning, just not what they teach in schools. I saw through the BS of 'school' from a young age- the American Education System was just trying to turn me into another 9-5 employee, deep in the rat race. I played the game, school has always been easy for me, but never fulfilling. I knew going into high school I would graduate as soon as possible to start my higher education, which I would have control over. High school made me feel like I was just another number. My teachers were overwhelmed with 40+ students in a classroom, and there was no room for individualized learning. That's why I am so excited about Verto- the SoPac field semester seems like it was custom designed for ME!
I am now enrolled at my local community college, and I enjoy the education I am getting, mainly because I get to choose what I'm learning.
I’ve traveled a lot - 37 states by the time I was 10 years old (military brat- we drove across the country to move to California), Italy, England, Mexico, Costa Rica, I’ve traveled back and forth from Washington D.C. and Massachusetts several times because of family. I’ve also lived in 4 states (California, Virginia, North Carolina, Kansas).
I have always loved traveling, it's been a part of my life since I was little. I'm fascinated by different cultures and learning more about nature and different ecosystems. People have described me as bold, curangeous, compassionate, passionate, determined, generous, and energetic.

What do you like to do in your free time?

- Read: typically self help/personal development
- Kayak, surf, hike: with my family and friends
- Cook: I am always ready to learn something new in the kitchen.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

-Hands on learning
- Glow worm caves in New Zealand
- Meeting like minded peers
- Learning more about Pacific Islander Culture

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

Go back to my community college, travel more, but nothing set in stone yet!

"I'm fascinated by different cultures and learning more about nature and different ecosystems."
-Max Bairstow

"I have always loved traveling, it's been a part of my life since I was little. I'm fascinated by different cultures and learning more about nature and different ecosystems."
-Max Bairstow

Isabella Parra Hernandez, Latin America

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

Hi, my name is Isa and I'm really active, I love taking photos of everything and anything which I definitely will be doing during this opportunity. High school was interesting. I didn't go to the best school but I made amazing friends who I love which made my experience a whole lot better. I did a program called Global Glimpse so I travelled to Dominican Republic in San Juan De La Maguana for two weeks. I would describe myself as creative, funny, and quick with my head.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to go and hang out with my friends and take pictures of my city in my free time, also thrift shopping and walking around downtown and explore other little shops I have never been to before.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

The experience I'm looking forward to is how we are going to live, where we are going to stay and how different the environment will be compared to home. also the learning style of the program and meeting the people.

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

After Verto I'm hoping to get into Columbia College Chicago and joining the film production program and photography, hopefully i can move to Chicago and start my life there. Why? I don't know honestly it'll be stressful yet fun and a good opportunity to see where it goes from there.

"I would describe myself as an adventurer!" - Teddy Gemmell-Hughes

"I would describe myself as an adventurer. I like encountering new places and really like physical challenges."
-Teddy Gemmell-Hughes

TGH

Teddy Gemmell-Hughes, Hawaii

Tell us a little bit about you! What was high school like, have you traveled before, how would you describe yourself?

I went to Holderness School in Holderness, NH. It was hard but I really loved it. The community was so important to me. I love to travel and have been lucky enough to do a bunch. Along with traveling with my parents to Peru several times for a long-term project they were working on there, I've also been to Costa Rica, Uruguay, all over Europe, and have spent time climbing and skiing in the western US. I would describe myself as an adventurer. I like encountering new places and really like physical challenges.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like climbing and skiing and cooking.

What are you most looking forward to on your Verto semester?

Immersing myself in a new culture--not just the Verto crew but the people we will work with from Hawaii.

Do you have any post-Verto plans yet like attending a specific college?

I'll be going to University of Vermont.

"The experience I'm looking forward to is how we are going to live, where we are going to stay and how different the environment will be compared to home."
-Isabella Parra Hernandez

"I have always loved traveling, it's been a part of my life since I was little. I'm fascinated by different cultures and learning more about nature and different ecosystems."
-Max Bairstow