Washington College: 5 student stories, one theme of success

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For a quality, all-American education, choose the first college ever chartered in the US: Washington College. Founded in 1782, excellence is something they know well, achieved through a signature approach to learning few can replicate. Here, students determine their own path to success — meaning no two journeys are ever the same. 

Seyed M. Marjaei

Washington College

Seyed Marjaei. Source: Washington College

Third culture kid Seyed M. Marjaei was born in Iran and grew up in India before he ventured to Chestertown, Maryland to nurture his passion for engineering. He knew Washington College’s connected community would perfectly balance out the rigours of a comprehensive, highly-technical programme. It also welcomed multidisciplinary exploration, meaning Marjaei would be free to satisfy his curiosity in business and philosophy.

While introductory courses to computer science by Dr. Kyle Wilson have never failed to intrigue Marjaei, he found that foundational lessons in comparative religion left a longer-lasting impression. Outside the classroom, he co-leads Makers Union — a club where budding engineers are encouraged to imagine and innovate. Marjaei credits his do-it-all energy to his surroundings. “One of the key factors of my success at Washington College had a lot to do with my environment and living in Chestertown,” he says.

Wenhuan Li

Born and raised in China, Wenhuan Li’s journey to Washington College was fuss-free — a beloved teacher had recommended it to her. A stellar business programme sealed the deal. However, it was a philosophy class that truly broadened her horizons. “I learned a lot about social situations, morals, ethics, and how and why we should be good people,” she says.

Washington College

Wenhuan Li. Source: Washington College

It’s safe to say her Washington College experience has been enlightening. More specifically, Li calls it a “spiritual excursion.” Having grown up in the bustling city of Qingdao, she feels Chestertown’s tranquil nature has helped her block out distractions so she can be productive. Today, she’d rather relish in a book or volunteer at Kidspot than visit a shopping mall. “I found who I am here,” she says. “I don’t think I could do the same in a bigger city or school.”

Shodai Hirano

Two things attracted Shodai Hirano to Washington College: clean air and a tight-knit campus. “I knew a smaller university would take better care of me,” he says. Comfortably, he was able to remain engaged as an Economics and Business Management student. Doing so has helped him gain a stronger understanding of American culture, speak better English and manage his time more effectively. Hirano managed to achieve the above and more without a financial worry in mind, thanks to generous financial assistance from the college.

He’s even found new passions along the way. “My FYS Literature class by Katherine Charles  was incredibly memorable,” Hirano says. “The class focused mainly on Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ and we discussed the literature of women writers in the 17th and 18th centuries. We discussed our opinions, write comprehensive essays and even dressed up in themed costumes for Halloween.”

Denisse Itzamar Rojas Maldonado

Washington College

Denisse Itzamar Rojas Maldonado. Source: Washington College

Denisse Itzamar Rojas Maldonado left her life in Honduras behind to explore the diverse cultures and quality education the US is known for. She opted to major in International Studies. “My favourite class so far has been American Government and Politics by Professor Hickels,” she says. “He is an excellent professor who explains the American system very well. These lessons have helped me realise my calling to study political science in the future.”

Life outside the classroom is just as exciting. The Student Government Association and Student Events Board organise several activities a week — Maldonado is always happy to join them with her friends. “Once, the Department of Public Safety challenged us to a snow fight,” she recalls. “It was my first time experiencing the snow and comprehending the unity that exists within our student body.”

Sneha Vireshwar Dixit

When Sneha Vireshwar Dixit from India first learned about the GE Chairman’s Scholarship to attend Washington College, she didn’t think she stood a chance. When she made the cut, she knew it was too good an opportunity to pass up. A virtual call with Dr. Kehm from the Physics department further sealed the deal. “I realised that by choosing Washington College, I will be studying under professors who help their students leverage every opportunity,” she says.

True enough, Dixit’s first class was small and educators knew every student by name. Their support gave her the confidence to “collaborate and never compete” — a lesson she knows will serve her well in life. As a Physics and Math major, she works closely with her peers on sourcing research opportunities and bringing passion projects to life. Outside the classroom, she continuously grows her network as a member of the Cater Society of Junior Fellows, as President of the Society of Physics Students and as Vice President of the WAC South Asians Club.

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