This marks the final installment of Jessica Caterson’s “Virtual Reality” senior stories. She completed them while finishing her own junior year school work. We are grateful Jessica decided to share her work with EG News. Great job!
By Jessica Caterson
Unlike many of her peers, Laura Bernard-Sasges didn’t enter high school as another anonymous name on an attendance sheet. Following her two older brothers in school, Laura felt pressure to live up to her last name’s reputation. “Most of my teachers already knew who I was. Bernard-Sasges is a very distinctive last name,” Laura explained with a laugh. “On top of that, my brothers were both really smart, so I entered [freshman year] thinking like, ‘All right, let’s live up to these standards.'” As a ninth grader, Laura began her academic climb on the advanced track, taking most of the same classes as her brothers. Her impressive schedule gave her little time for electives, focusing instead on her core subjects and languages. A self-proclaimed nerd, Laura has always felt comfortable with her label of an academic. “I have always been and forever will be a nerd. It’s just a part of who I am. I’m not the stereotypical nerd with glasses and no athletic ability, but I’m someone who cares about school,” she said.
Throughout her time at the high school, Laura involved herself in several different activities, from drama and band to volleyball and karate. Her bubbly and affable personality made making new friends natural for her. A part of Laura even wishes she had been less social and more consistent with who she spent time with. “During high school, I was always changing friend groups, and then within my group, I would become closer to different people at different times,” she explained. “I wish I had been able to stay consistent with everyone instead of drifting around.” When it comes to making friends, Laura learned not to judge people solely on first impressions. She said, “The moment you see someone for the first time you will make a snap judgement about them, and that’s okay. But it’s important to learn to move past that and actually talk to people, and then make a true judgment on who they are.”
Laura’s biggest takeaway from EGHS was learning to not care what others think. As a freshman, Laura remembers being worried what her peers and the upperclassmen would think about her. However, as she progressed through high school, she found that it was more fun to live life to the fullest. She said, “I came to a point in my life where I would rather live my life doing crazy fun things that I enjoy than letting other people’s opinions restrict my life choices. I learned to accept my weirdness, because that’s who I am.” She regrets not being herself earlier on and would advise freshmen to enjoy as many high school experiences as they can.
For Laura, the college process started when her oldest brother began looking at schools. Going on tours with her brothers, Laura discovered the factors that were important to her when choosing a school. “I didn’t realize what I wanted until I toured a school that didn’t have it, ” she reflected. “The first few tours I went on were at schools with only two to three thousand students, and I realized that they were way too small for me.” By the time she began seriously considering schools, Laura knew that she wanted a school with a nice campus and a large student population. She said, “I went to the college meetings at school and if I liked what I heard from the rep, then I would look further into the school and tour it. If I could see myself on the campus, I applied.” Laura ended up applying to about eight schools, the majority of which had large undergrad programs and good educational reputations.
When it came time to pick a single school, Laura relied on her personal preferences to guide her. She said, “As I was getting accepted into more schools, I started comparing schools and saying ‘Between these two schools, I’d rather go here.'” She finally narrowed her decision down to two schools: University of Connecticut and Bentley University. At first, UConn seemed like the place for her. She said, “I applied to UConn because they were a really big sports school with a really big student population, and I was really into school spirit. It was also one of the only schools I walked on campus and could see myself as a student there.” Bentley, on the other hand, is a smaller school but has an equally impressive business program. As much as Laura wanted a bigger school like UConn in terms of spirit and sports, she found herself gravitating to the students at Bentley. “I found that I was making more of an effort to reach out to the accepted students of Bentley than I was to those of UConn, and I realized like, ‘Why would I want to go to a school if I don’t want to make the effort to meet the people there?'” The decision took several weeks, but Laura officially decided to go to Bentley University to major in management and minor in sports management.
In college, Laura wants to further explore the facets of sports management, taking classes in multiple different fields to see what she likes the best. “Sports management is very broad in the sense that it could be any sport but it could also be any form of business,” she explained. “There are so many different aspects to it, and I don’t know how I feel about each aspect, so I want to take more classes in college to explore all those fields and find out what I want to study specifically.” After college, Laura isn’t sure exactly what she wants to do. While she’s never had a dream job, she does have a goal for her future. “Whatever I do, I just want to be happy doing it,” she said. “There are plenty of people who end up having jobs that they do to make money but they aren’t happy about it. I just want to find something I can enjoy and support myself with.”
When asked to reflect on her experience during the past few months, Laura admitted that she faced a lot of disappointment. “There were a lot of things I had looked forward to for a long time that had been cancelled,” she reflected. One of those things was her first season of Ultimate Frisbee. Before quarantine began, Laura had been able to participate in some of the team’s captain practices and became really excited to start the season. While she intends on playing in college, this year would’ve been her last opportunity to play in a co-ed league. Missing out on senior-specific experiences like prom, senior week, and a traditional graduation was just as difficult. “I’m the type of person who gravitates to those things and gets really excited about them, so it was really rough when they were all cancelled,” she explained. “I got over the sadness of not having those moments, and while I’m not happy about it, I’ve accepted it, because we kinda have to. I’ll have other things in the future, but I still miss it now.” All hope might not be lost, though, as Bentley has proposed ways to make-up for all of the missed experiences of this year’s class of seniors. Laura said, “If we go back in the fall, Bentley said that they were going to try to do a redemption prom for the freshmen, which would be a completely different experience but still really cool.”
You will be missed so much by the entire East Greenwich community! Best of luck to you in all of your future endeavors!
Jessica Caterson, a member of the EGHS Class of 2021, is editor of The Spectrum.
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