NMH has challenged me to do better, to try to make things better. I don’t want to be somebody who leaves anything on the table in academics, or settles for a worse situation or environment than I know it can be.
Alex, Class of 2023
“I like to keep myself busy,” Alex says.
He’s not kidding. When he’s not playing soccer or skiing, you might find the NMH senior editing photos for the school newspaper, the Lamplighter; singing in a choir; leading a campus tour for prospective families; tutoring other students in writing; hosting a show on WNMH, the school radio station; or any of a long list of other activities.
Back home in Marblehead, Massachusetts, such a busy schedule would mean lots of driving, eating dinner in the car, rushing from place to place. One of the many things that Alex likes about boarding at NMH is that his activities are closer together and easier to manage and balance with his academic work. He’s also motivated by a desire to serve and connect: “To some extent, it’s about giving back and being part of my community.”
One way he does that is through NMH’s Rhodes Fellowship Course in Social Entrepreneurship, in which students learn how social entrepreneurs create innovative ventures designed to change society for the better, borrowing lessons and principles from the business sector. After a year of learning about drafting proposals and applying for grants, students can go on to a second year of making their proposed enterprises a reality with a grant from the school.
After learning that nonprofits could increase donations with effective videos, last summer Alex offered to help organizations in his hometown with video storytelling. This fall, he brought that experience back to campus. “I’m working on an op-ed documentary about the importance of food systems and the impact of food on the environment,” he says. “I’m looking at food systems at NMH, but also how that connects to the rest of the world.”
A desire to contribute to his community was also a big part of why Alex decided to apply to serve as a Resident Leader, or RL, a senior who lives in the dorm and helps other students navigate life at the school. “It’s really rewarding work,” he says. “In many ways, it means leaving NMH better than when I arrived. RLs get to effectively shape NMH leaders of the future.”
Alex knew that he wanted to become an RL from the time he arrived at NMH as a 9th-grader. “They are the cool people in your community, who you want to be. One of my RLs from back then — I still talk with him,” he says.
“There is a sense of home and community that exists here,” Alex says. “It’s a place that encourages collaboration between students. There’s an emphasis on lifting each other up and helping people, rather than competing.”
That emphasis on connection and support extends to student-teacher relationships, aided by NMH’s extensive student support network and by its College Model Academic Program, or CMAP, with its long class periods and high level of access to teachers. Those close relationships with teachers allow for more in-depth learning, inside and outside of the classroom, Alex notes. “I think there’s a sense of self-understanding and development here. I feel like NMH is very much a school that isn't going to define you – it lets you define yourself.”
So how does Alex define himself in his senior year?
“NMH has allowed me to grow as an individual beyond the classroom,” he says. “I wrote a college essay about leaving where you’re from better than you found it – putting an emphasis on social change. When I talk to my friends from home, there isn’t an emphasis on social change. But NMH has challenged me to do better, to try to make things better.
“I don’t want to be somebody who settles for anything. I don't want to be somebody who leaves anything on the table in academics, or settles for a worse situation or environment than I know it can be.”
Alex’s busy schedule — he’s a soccer player, skier, photographer, tour guide, radio host, and tutor — is motivated by a desire to connect with and contribute to the NMH community.