The thing about me is that I like a lot of stuff, and I can’t choose a favorite. But I know I really love Tampa Prep and how we have so many opportunities. You can be super involved academically, or be in a ton of clubs or volunteer or be in a musical. You can do so many things. If I could give one piece of advice to a future Tampa Prep student? Do everything. I mean, not like, everything. I know you can’t do 51 clubs. Just don’t focus in one area. If you like Math, don’t just do Math Club. Try new things. Tampa Prep is an amazing school where you can learn to be a better version of yourself.
Ms. Harman has been great for me because when I came here I was super “school, and only school” and she helped me to expand past that and get involved. So now I’m in several clubs: I’m the President of STAND (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur), in History Club, Teen Court, Debate Team, Science Olympiad, Culture Shock, Math Club, Key Club, a volunteer at Graham Elementary, and a dancer and class assistant at my dance school for the younger students.
I’m most proud of my work with STAND. Last year there were only two members, a senior and me. I had to run the whole thing by myself. It was kind of a joke, and I felt bad because combating genocide is a big thing and it’s something I care about. But this year, I’ve been able to recruit a lot of members. We’re already doing a fundraiser, having an information session for National Day of Peace and I’m working toward getting John Pendergast here to start a Conflict Free Campus Initiative where the school would pledge to end support of companies that buy gold from an area that supports genocide. I want to start that. We buy a lot of electronics. If we agree to buy conflict-free electronics that would be a big difference. I want to make some sort of positive impact on the world. I want to do something important with my life.
My parents always say, “Grace, don’t stress yourself out. You don’t have to be perfect as long as you try your hardest.” I’m very much a perfectionist, so I need that relaxed support. I know that even if I do mess up, they’ll help me through it. I don’t know how it would be if me–a perfectionist–also had perfectionist parents. That would be double stress. They’re very encouraging.
Grace is also interested in
Mrs. Lisa Harman on Grace
My first impression of Grace was . . . I was shocked and amused and impressed by her drive. She just knows what she wants (to go to Harvard, be valedictorian, get straight As) and it’s self-driven. It’s not her parents, it’s just Grace being Grace.
I keep pushing her to think beyond academics, but our conversations kept coming back to the fact that she just loves school, so of course why wouldn’t she want to get all As? So we set goals that weren’t academic: “Try to sit with different people at lunch,” or “Go to a new club meeting.”
Here, she’s being challenged in a completely different way. The school work here is hard because teachers may ask her to write about a perspective or to collaborate and connect with her classmates in a Harkness discussion. She’s being challenged to relate to the world in a new way and realize that not every question has one right answer. And she’s rising to that challenge.
I love working with Grace because she cares, she’s optimistic and you cannot tell her that something cannot be done. She’ll push back and say “yes we can, let’s consider this!” She wants to make a difference. In our STAND club meeting she’ll say, “Let’s email this national coordinator for an initiative.” She’s not deterred by reaching out to an important person. She’s just this really eclectic and neat student. I have no doubt that she’ll go wherever she wants to go. I encouraged her to look at other schools besides Harvard, but she’ll make it happen.