Gonzaga Preparatory School

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Stand-Out Seniors


Jakob Nordhagen’s senior year has been filled with many scholastic and academic achievements. Last fall, Nordhagen was recognized as a National Merit Semi-Finalist for scoring in the top one percent of the 1.6 million students in the nation who took the PSAT, he earned a perfect score on the ACT, he was accepted to Stanford University and Harvard College, and he was recognized as a Spokane Scholar for Science.
Following the National Merit Semi-Finalist announcement, Nordhagen received a perfect score on the ACT. He took the ACT early as a way to get a feel for the test and potentially improve to a perfect score later, he said. When the scores for his first attempt came back as a perfect score of 36, Nordhagen said he thought he was looking at an example report. “I spent a few moments looking for the ‘real’ one,” said Nordhagen. “I knew [getting a 36] was within the realm of possibility, but I was very surprised to get it on the first try.”
When college application season rolled around Nordhagen set his sights on Stanford University and Harvard College. “Since childhood, Stanford has always been my absolute dream school,” he said. He applied to Stanford under the Restrictive Early Action program. Then he applied to Harvard College, a school he said could possibly challenge Stanford. He ended up gaining acceptance to both. “I had been pretty much dead set on accepting Stanford’s offer, but my acceptance to Harvard made me hesitate,” said Nordhagen. After doing extensive research and weighing the pros and cons he knew that Stanford was the perfect fit for him.
Nordhagen plans to pursue a coterminal bachelors/masters degree in computer science. He is also interested in entrepreneurship, and thinks he may start his own company or join a startup. For now, what he knows with certainty is he wants to make a positive impact in the world and that higher education will help him do this.
When asked to give advice to the incoming freshmen class, Nordhagen said, “Learning can be incredibly fun and rewarding in and of itself. Be wary of the destructive mindset that everything in school is boring and unfulfilling. On the other extreme, know that academic performance is not the end-all-be-all for success in life and should not be a cause of crippling stress. There is a happy medium.”

During his sophomore year, Ned McEwen `19 watched as his peers Mia Padon `17 and Jeremiah Cooney `17 were commended by the school for their acceptance to West Point Military Academy and to the Naval Academy. This moment inspired McEwen to pursue an Academy track following graduation from high school. “Seeing classmates from my own school apply [to the academies] showed me that I had the potential for life at an academy as well,” said McEwen.

This fall McEwen applied and was accepted to both the United States Naval Academy and West Point Military Academy. In June McEwen was inducted into the United States Naval Academy and began his training to become a professional officer in the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps.

McEwen said the application process for the Military Academies is unlike any other college application. “After all,” he said, “the Naval Academy is not your typical college.” The process included direct applications to the institutions, as well as an application for a congressional nomination. “I was fortunate enough to receive [a recommendation] from Cathy McMorris-Rodgers,” said McEwen.

McEwen is looking forward to creating bonds with like-minded individuals who share similar values of self-determination through communal support. He hopes to develop leadership skills that he can utilize following academy graduation when he begins his service for the country. “If anyone had told me before Sophomore year that I would be embarking to the Naval Academy, I would not have believed them,” said McEwen. “However, after reflecting on how Prep embodied the values of servant leadership, I could not imagine a better fit than an academy.”

When asked to give advice to the incoming freshmen class, McEwen said, “It is okay to not know what you want to do. Keep your eyes open to every opportunity that presents itself and trust in the process.”
This fall Jocelin Garcia `19 will attend Gonzaga University, where she is part of the incoming cadre of Act Six Scholars. Garcia is one of 138 high school seniors from across the country who will receive a four year scholarship through Act Six. She will pursue a double major in sociology and criminology, pre-law. Garcia will be joined at Gonzaga by six other Act Six scholarship recipients who will make up her cadre during the next four years.
Within the seven regions where Act Six is present, the program selects diverse, multicultural cadres of students who are emerging urban and community leaders. The students are then connected with faith- and social justice-based colleges. Leading up to the first day of college the students are trained and prepared to support one another, succeed academically, and grow as service-minded leaders and agents of transformation. Throughout the four years of college Act Six provides support, ongoing leadership development, and vocational connections to inspire the scholars to serve their home communities.
Garcia said the process of applying for Act Six was one of the hardest things she has done. “The application process is long. You write multiple essays, get many recommendation letters, and go through a long interview process. But it has been worth it. Because of Act Six I am able to go to such a great school.”
A local group of the new Act Six scholars meets weekly to train and prepare for the upcoming transition into college. Garcia said, “We do a lot of work, but it is showing me how well Prep has prepared me.” Particularly, Garcia said that she tends to score high on the drafts of the papers she writes weekly for the program. “It reassures me that I know what I want and how to achieve it. I have confidence that I know how to share my words in positive ways.”
Garcia reflected on the community she has made at Prep and how much it has meant to her. “I met my best friends by turning around and introducing myself in the first weeks at Prep.” She said that the thought of leaving the community of Prep is something she has been having trouble with. What is getting her through is this new community she is beginning to form through Act Six. “These people have already become this new community and new family. I mean that literally as well! I met a cousin of mine through Act Six! He is part of my cadre. Act Six has become a new community - a new support system. And I am thankful,” said Garcia.
Read more about Act Six and this year's scholarship recipients here: https://www.actsix.org/20
Read more about Act Six here: https://www.actsix.org/about/