On Thursday, Dec. 19, distinguished graduates from the Cavalier Class of 2019 returned to Coral Gables Senior High (CGSH) campus, many for the first time since graduating, to attend the annual College Forum held in the school auditorium. Coordinated by Gables’s College Assistance Program (C.A.P.) office and Ms. Khushnuma Driver, the College Forum serves to provide support and guidance to the current senior class while in the climax of the college application process.
This year’s forum was one of tremendous prestige. With several Cavalier alumni volunteering their time to serve as panelists during the forum, exceptional schools from around the country were featured in honorable fashion. On the far left was Patrick Ales, representing Northwestern University. On the other side of the stage, Cristian Ochoa represented Vanderbilt University. Between the two were 17 other exemplary students showcasing their schools and their college experiences. These ranged from in-state institutions, like Florida International University and the University of Florida, to large out-of-state public schools, like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and to top-tier universities, like Princeton and Stanford University.
During the forum, Ms. Driver presented the panelists with a variety of different school-specific questions in order to definitively address the benefits and setbacks that current seniors may encounter at certain colleges upon graduating from high school. Beginning with Ales, the panelists each provided their input, and the forum would conclude with a question-and-answer session in which seniors would go to the stage and ask the panelists either general college-related questions, or questions that pertained to a specific school and, therefore, a specific Cavalier alum.
The 2019 College Forum in itself was, in every way imaginable, a rewarding and beneficial experience for the Class of 2020. Especially considering that many of these graduates are close friends with current Cavaliers, the forum not only proved to be direct and personal, but it also demonstrated why the Class of 2019 continues to be regarded as one of the greatest to ever roam Gables’ hallways in its nearly 70-year history.
The vast majority of the graduates had only just recently flown back home to Miami to stay with their families for the holiday break, and the fact that they sacrificed a portion of their return to help out the next wave of college students graduating from their alma mater is something that has been extremely appreciated by current seniors.
“I thought it was really nice that Johan Soto came to College Forum. I took physics with him for two years and he was one of the main reasons for my initial interest in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He spoke about the incredible community at his school and the support system for the academic rigor at MIT. He also offered to help me in the application process by reading some of my essays and giving me feedback,” senior Chris Brazda said.
Once the forum had concluded around 10:00 a.m. during fourth period, Ms. Driver dismissed the graduates, thanking them for their support during the forum, and taking a picture with them to capture the memory. However, while the scheduled time was technically over, several graduates stayed, taking further questions from people that did not have the opportunity to get theirs answered during the forum. Forming small groups of a handful of people, they discussed various topics, including financial aid, merit scholarships, how to navigate around an admission deferral and how to immediately make the most out of the college experience as a first-year student.
“Follow your gut. Consider what your options are, but always stay true to who you are,” alum Alain Perez said.
The former seniors from the Class of 2019 have moved on to the next chapter of their lives and, while they are all excelling in each of their endeavors, their presence as Cavaliers is one that continues to be missed on campus. However, their spirit and devotion to the CGSH community has resonate deeply within the hearts of the seniors in the Class of 2020, and it is undeniable that their paths to success will be forever enhanced by the generous, courteous and selfless actions of the students that preceded them.