The student-run newspaper of Westridge School for Girls, Spyglass strives to build community and evoke empathy through the medium of journalism. Comprised of passionate student writers, editors, designers, managers, and leaders, Spyglass is dedicated to ethical reporting that amplifies our unique voices to inform, entertain, and forge connection in the Westridge community and beyond.

Spyglass

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The student-run newspaper of Westridge School for Girls, Spyglass strives to build community and evoke empathy through the medium of journalism. Comprised of passionate student writers, editors, designers, managers, and leaders, Spyglass is dedicated to ethical reporting that amplifies our unique voices to inform, entertain, and forge connection in the Westridge community and beyond.

Spyglass

The student-run newspaper of Westridge School for Girls, Spyglass strives to build community and evoke empathy through the medium of journalism. Comprised of passionate student writers, editors, designers, managers, and leaders, Spyglass is dedicated to ethical reporting that amplifies our unique voices to inform, entertain, and forge connection in the Westridge community and beyond.

Spyglass

Highlights from Westridge Class of ’23’s First Semester in College

Highlights from Westridge Class of ’23’s First Semester in College
Reed D.

Transitioning to college life can be both exhilarating and challenging as students embrace both new freedoms and new responsibilities. Spyglass spoke with six members of the Class of 2023 about their first semesters.

 

Ariana Avellan

Currently attending UCLA, Ariana already declared economics as a major. She also developed a love for computer science and is considering taking more STEM courses in the future. Though initially hesitant to attend a large university like UCLA, Ariana grew to appreciate it. “When you grew up in a space like the Pasadena private school system, choosing to go to a big school was scary,” she said. “Now it is a little strange to walk into a class and not have your professor know who you are. So I’ve pushed myself in learning [that] I don’t need external validation from my teachers and from my peers to know that I am succeeding, or I am thriving, or that I’m achieving.”

And to keep the tight-knit community of Westridge close to heart amidst the chaos of a big school, Ariana joined a sorority, finding a community within a community. “I felt like being in a sorority would be really helpful for me. It was appealing to me to be in an environment for women by women.”

 

Hailey Tsuchiya
Hailey making her mark on Berkeley’s campus (Hailey T.)

Hailey Tsuchiya (Former Spyglass Staffer)

Hailey currently attends UC Berkeley and initially declared astrophysics as a major. After some consideration, Hailey stepped back and is reconsidering her course of study. “I took only STEM classes last semester, meaning physics, math, and computer science. And that was brutal. I am currently undecided because that was so brutal.” As someone with varied interests, Hailey is still exploring different fields and trying to find the one that best fits her. One thing Hailey discovered when taking classes in college was that Westridge prepared her tremendously “for college-level English. Westridge really puts you a step ahead in that regard.” 

Hailey hopes to expand her social circle and take advantage of UC Berkeley’s lively community. “[I want to] join more clubs and experience more city life. Because I stay in a lot right now just kind of studying, kind of chilling. I know that if I got out more, I’d be able to experience more within the community. And that would be nice to do.”

 

Briar Brooks

As an undecided major, Briar is enjoying a slower-paced academic experience at Reed College. Briar believes Westridge prepared her well for college “in terms of academics.” In Briar’s experience, her workload ranges around the same intensity as Westridge. In fact, she said, “At Westridge, it was a little more fast paced.”

From her first few months in college, Briar learned a valuable bit of advice to combat some of her challenges, like the snowy, dreary weather in Oregon. She realized the importance of appreciating the little things in life. “When it’s really cloudy, the weather or my mood, I realize I can always find my friends or wear bright colors to make things more cheerful.”

Briar B.

 

Reema Rafifar

Reema currently attends UC Berkeley and plans to major in Computer Science and Neuroscience. The biggest highlight from her college experience is her recent discovery of her passion for teaching Computer Science. “I teach a no-programming experience group,” she said. “I left the class [one day], and one of my students was like, ‘This was really helpful. Thank you so much. I finally understand,’ and I was like, this is the best compliment anyone could ever give me.” 

Reema hopes to continue her passion by pursuing further education after graduating. “I will be pursuing a PhD, hopefully near family. And then after that, I do want to continue teaching. It’s probably one of my greatest passions with neuroscience too, and movies, but I really love teaching. So hopefully, far, far in the future, maybe I can be a college professor or something.” 

Soleil at a concert.

Soleil Ybarra

After her first semester at Pomona College, Soleil soon discovered its environment was reminiscent of Westridge. “The school is just really small. It’s not too hard to meet everybody.” Pomona’s small population helped her find a community, easing her transition into college. “I feel like I made really good friends, even if it took the whole [first] semester. I had some friends closer to the beginning. But then in the end, I felt I really settled down and found my people.”

One of Soleil’s biggest challenges during her first semester involved course selection. Although she initially planned to major in History, Soleil was unable to enroll in any history classes. “Since freshmen get the last day of the days where you can pre-register, I had the very last time slot, which was really unfortunate. But I took a Gender and Women’s Studies class that I really liked. So I’ve been thinking [to major] either in Gender and Women’s Studies, or History or English, something that’s humanities.” 

 

Maggie Gerstel

As an acting major at NYU, Maggie found herself unfamiliar but excited about life in bustling New York City. “You’re not just a college student in New York, but you’re also living in New York as a person,” she said. An aspect of New York Maggie doesn’t appreciate is the normalization of walking to destinations, as she misses driving her car. 

However, Maggie is grateful that New York’s large and diverse community has helped her explore her identity. “[At Westridge,] it’s kind of hard to explore new facets of yourself because you’ve been confined to the same people for so long. Coming to the city is very different. You’re walking to classes and you’re seeing people of all ages… It’s much less secluded and much less of a bubble.”

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About the Contributors
Lily C., Staff Writer
Lily is a freshman in her second year writing for Spyglass. Outside of school, she loves to paint, play piano, and spend time with her two cats named Waffles and Lilac. 
Hailey T., Website Manager/Editor
Hailey is a senior and this is her fifth year on Spyglass as well as her second year doubling as the Website Manager and a writing editor. When not writing, she enjoys sitting in coffee shops, engaging in the occasional (amicable) debate, and playing Dress Up! Time Princess.
Reed D., Editor, Website Manager/Designer
Reed is a junior, and this is her fourth year on Spyglass and her second year juggling her roles as Editor, Website Manager, and Website Designer. Outside of writing for Spyglass, you can find her studying (or busy curating Spotify playlists) in a cafe, crocheting, thrifting, and spending time with her 8 pet chickens.

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