Alumni Spotlight: Shanthi Hiremath (’16)
How do MLWGS students choose where to apply to college and ultimately where to attend? How do they handle the transition from high school to college? Our youngest alumni have the freshest perspectives on college applications, admissions, and selection. Shanthi Hiremath (’16) is a sophomore and member of the track team at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH.
“The best part about being a student athlete is having a family through my team,” she says. “Maggie Walker’s track team was especially close, and I wanted the same type of community in college. Having this connection to not only other members of my class but other upperclassmen as well is invaluable, as they give me support and advice whether personal, athletic, academic, or anything in between. Every night after practice we have a big team dinner in one of Dartmouth’s dining halls, which is always a highlight of my day!” The spirit of the team factored heavily into Shanthi’s decision to attend Dartmouth. She wasn’t just looking for a great school or a great team. “I liked that Dartmouth was a small school with an incredible faculty, and just like at Maggie Walker, the team felt like a family.”
Being a member of the cross country and track teams was one of the most meaningful parts of Shanthi’s high school experience. “The team was like my second family, both as a loving support group and as a motivator that pushed me to be my best,” she says. She was named one of the All-Metro outdoor track and field athletes of the year by the Richmond Times Dispatch in 2016 and scholar-athlete of the month after winning five events at 2A states in 2016. That made her the first athlete, male or female, to win five individual state titles in a Virginia High School League state meet.
Academically, she particularly remembers her senior mentorship. The first half of her mentorship was with Samantha Stone (PT, DPT, CMTPT) in physical therapy. The second half was pediatric orthopedic surgery at Tuckahoe Orthopaedics with Dr. H. Robert Tuten, Dr. Chad E. Aarons, and Dr. Chester H. Sharps. “Mentorship gave me an opportunity that is typically only available to college students and beyond, exploring a field I was really interested in,” she says. “The mentorship research project allowed me so much freedom in picking an issue important to me, and having the experience of a large-scale paper and presentation has proved invaluable in college so far.”
Shanthi has very much enjoyed her academic experience at Dartmouth. “Most of my classes have been about 20 students or less, which has allowed for great discussions and a more personal relationship with the professors,” she explains. “They are accomplished in their fields of study, and many are still working professionally in research or other endeavors, but are still incredibly available to and enthusiastic about us undergraduates. Their passion for their classes has really helped spark my interest in what are now some of my favorite topics!”
One of the classes that stands out in her mind is a geography class called “Climate Change and the Future of Agriculture” with professor Jonathan Winter. “As the name implies, this focused on the relationship between agriculture and environmental changes, with consideration of how we can manage the two to feed the growing global population,” she explains. She is currently enjoying a class called “Food and Power,” on the global food system and hopes to start research with Professor Winter in that area next term. Shanthi expects to declare a major in geography with a focus in either international development or physical and human dimensions of global change and is considering a minor in environmental studies.
Her advice to current Maggie Walker seniors considering where to go to college? “Look at a wide variety of options, then narrow them down before applying! It’s okay to look at schools people have never heard of or your friends aren’t considering. If you have the ability, get on the campus to get a feel for the schools that are your top choices, as this was a huge help to me when I was deciding. I’m a firm believer that you can be happy at any school, but there’s no need to apply to a dozen colleges.”
Right now, Shanthi is looking forward to the fall season up at Dartmouth. “As the only term where we are not competing for track, my teammates and I use our free weekends for lots of hiking, breakfasts, and exploring around the small towns in New Hampshire and Vermont’s upper valley area,” she says. “It’s fun getting off campus and seeing the landscapes around us here, as they look completely different from back home in Virginia.”