Natalia Tu is the first to admit that she’s a big-time NMH cheerleader. “I feel like I’m studying with some of the smartest teachers ever, and my friends are the smartest and kindest people ever,” she gushes. “I’ve gained so much confidence in this place, and I’ve learned to see the world in a different way, as cheesy as that sounds.”
But Nat, as she’s known, is also honest. “I absolutely hated school for the first month of my freshman year,” she says. “I was begging my mom to bring me back home.”
Home, at the time, was Bellevue, Washington, outside Seattle. Nat was born in Taiwan, and her family is now based in New York. As an eighth-grader, she heard about NMH while visiting other New England boarding schools with her mom. She scheduled a last-minute campus tour and interview, and was hooked. “It was pretty different from other schools,” she says. “The general vibe was more relaxed.”
After her period of 9th-grade transition angst, a switch flipped for Nat. “Everything started to feel more fluid. I felt happier. There were more things I was open to, things I just decided to do.” Nat started writing for The Bridge, a student newspaper, and by her senior year, was its managing editor. After having played soccer for most of her childhood, she tried out for cross-country, and eventually became NMH’s top female distance runner. She loved doing the poetry recitations in her freshman English class, so she worked up the courage to perform in NMH’s annual production of The Vagina Monologues — and directed it the following year. And as a resident leader in a 9th-grade girls’ dorm, she turned her own growing confidence into a source of support for younger students adjusting to a new school — just as she had done.
Academically, Nat points to her Government and Civil Liberties course as “so hard,” but also the place, she says, “where I learned to include myself in a discussion.” She was reminded of that class one day as she sat in the dining hall with friends and got into a conversation about gerrymandering. “That is definitely not something I’d be able to talk about if I hadn’t taken Gov and Civ,” she says. Another favorite has been AP Psychology — the experiments, the research, the fact that “everything is applicable.”
“NMH has allowed me to pursue a lot of different things,” Nat says, back in cheerleader mode. “If you really want something, you can go for it. The opportunities are there. It’s all about what you make of it.”