To me, NMH’s biggest selling point is unlocking and expanding your true potential. There are a lot of open doors, and it’s up to you which to go through, and how many to go through.
Harene, Class of 2023
For Harene ’23, coming to Northfield Mount Hermon meant a widening of possibilities. Back home in Seoul, South Korea, she attended an international school. “When I came here,” she says, “my first impression was that there’s so much more freedom and space to express yourself. At my old school, everyone took the same classes, explored the same interests. But here, there are so many more options, and it’s easy to get more involved. It’s more dynamic, and you really get to hear new perspectives.”
Harene has definitely become involved – she’s president of the Economics Club, a Resident Leader, a Student Ambassador, a leader in the student Christian organization Breakaway, a violist in the orchestra, and an editor of the student newspaper, The Lamplighter.
She’s equally engaged in the classroom, which she credits to NMH’s approach to learning. “Classes are small. And teachers are more involved – I definitely took advantage of teachers’ office hours and their willingness to have conversations outside of class. I feel like I’m getting a deeper learning experience. I get to choose which classes to take and how intense to go.”
For Harene, math and science are a big focus. As a senior, she’s opted to do a capstone, an intensive independent project that allows students to investigate an interest that’s not in the curriculum. Her ambitious capstone, which allows her to delve into her interest in biomedical engineering, was in part inspired by pandemic mask-wearing. Masks, she notes, aren’t just powerful tools for preventing the spread of disease — they also can be used to detect the presence of infections and other health issues, through analysis of genetic material left on the mask by the wearer.
“DNA material in masks can be used for diagnostic purposes,” Harene says. “I wanted to look at more comprehensive ways to analyze that kind of material.” Her project investigates using a surface or patch made of engineered fabric to non-invasively collect biological information from a patient at home. “They would be connected to a comprehensive biomarker network – a database for genetic mutations or patterns – for diagnostic purposes,” she says. “The idea is to make it streamlined and convenient.” Harene’s capstone research will result in a simulation of a chip that interacts with the biomarker network database.
Her capstone, she adds, has benefitted from the support of a network of people on campus — a function of NMH’s close-knit community. “Everything is more cohesive and interactive,” she says. That connection, she’s realized, extends beyond campus. “In chamber orchestra last year, we played the Vespers concert [on campus] for students, faculty, and families, then went to New York and Boston and played it again.” Those performances, she notes, were opportunities for students to connect with alumni. “It was great to actually see how big our community was.
“To me, NMH’s biggest selling point is unlocking and expanding your true potential,” Harene says. “There are a lot of open doors, and it’s up to you which to go through, and how many to go through.”
Harene is working on a capstone project in biomedical engineering, exploring how genetic material on masks worn by patients can be examined for biomarkers that could diagnose medical issues.