Meet Our Students

Five-Minute Interviews

Vanessa Okoroanyanwu ’20

In your role as a Sixth Form Council Member, what do you hope to accomplish this year? I hope to push new ideas onto campus that will help ease the transition of new and returning students of all backgrounds and lifestyles to our campus. Our community as it stands is extraordinarily welcoming, caring, and accepting, and I hope to expand that and continue working, as my predecessors have, towards the ideal where every person, with their unique identities, is able to thrive in every aspect of campus life.

How did you decide upon attending Canterbury? My first time on campus, the people at Canterbury, staff especially, left me feeling assured. I'm not sure if it's because I was fortunate enough to meet EJ that day, or if its because I had Mr. Cramphin as my interviewer, but stepping off of campus after my visit, I felt very upbeat! That feeling is what caused me to remember this campus in the midst of the many others that I had toured and is what led me to choose this school over others when decision day came.

What do you hope to do after Canterbury? After Canterbury, I aim to attend college, enroll in medical school, and work towards becoming a pediatrician! Eventually, after I've become comfortable enough in the field, I hope to open up my own clinic and work specifically with schools and communities in Newark, NJ, the city in which I currently live. I want to give back to this city because I know for certain that I would not be where I am without the things that I have learned here. Living here, I've met so many soulful people, and I've grown to have so much pride and see so much beauty in this place. I want to contribute to the betterment of the city that pushed me up. I believe in the power of representation, and I want to be that proof to folks here and to other minorities from marginalized neighborhoods that there should be no other direction to go but up. I want to create opportunities for kids pursuing higher learning right smack in the middle of their own community and be a stepping stool for their advancement, as others were and currently are for me.

Who is a faculty member you have a close relationship with as teacher, coach, or dorm parent? A faculty member that I wholeheartedly admire on campus is (and this may come to no surprise!) Mrs.Garcia-LaVigne. Moving into Duffy my Third Form year, she, as the Dorm Head, is one of the first people I met and was immediately a person whose presence eased my mind. That first year on campus was challenging, and her unwavering kind and peaceful personality is one of the things that truly kept me positive at times when I considered returning home. She made Duffy a home for me, and the comfort that I found in that dorm my freshman year is something that has driven me back to Duffy every year following. My sophomore and junior years, she became someone that I gradually felt more and more comfortable going to and talking to about my experiences. If something weighed on my mind or if I had an idea or a request, she is one of the adults on campus that I could turn to without hesitation. Mrs.Garcia-LaVigne is a pure spirit that has positively impacted my life on campus in many ineffable ways.

Gabe Diamond ’20

In your role as Lead Ambassador, what do you hope to accomplish this year? I am hoping to create a tour environment in which prospective students really understand what it's like to be a student at Canterbury. Students visiting the school should feel like they belong here and be able to envision themselves on our hilltop—that's how I felt when I came for my tour!

How did you decide upon attending Canterbury? For me, deciding to attend Canterbury was mainly focused on two areas: academics and athletics. I knew that the school provided a challenging yet manageable academic course load. I also heard from other students how well Canterbury prepared them for their endeavors after leaving, particularly when it came to college essay writing. Regarding athletics, I knew the athletic program at Canterbury is very strong and the level of play, particularly for basketball, is very high. I also loved the atmosphere surrounding athletics that I felt when I attended games before I enrolled. I've also been able to play sports that I hadn't before. Before Canterbury, I had never been on a crew team or played water polo, yet now I may be going to college for rowing. This culture of athletics and new opportunities that Canterbury presented made the choiceto attend  easy.

What do you hope to do after Canterbury? I am interested in business, mathematics, and philosophy, but I do not know what path I want to follow or career I want to pursue. In deciding on a college or career, right now I am keeping my options open, and I know that Canterbury has prepared me well for whatever I decide to choose.

Who is a faculty member you have a close relationship with as teacher, coach, or dorm parent? My advisor and junior year English teacher, Mr. Danenbarger, is a faculty member with whom I value my relationship. He cares for his students and his advisees, checking in on our academic progress and overall wellbeing. In weekly advisor meetings, Mr. Danenbarger asks how everything is going in athletics, in the classroom, and in our personal lives. After having him as a teacher, I realized that not only is he a great advisor, but a great English teacher, too!

Erin Sudbey ’20

In your role as Sacristan, what do you hope to accomplish this year? One of the things I am most excited for is integrating the Canterbury Chicken Keepers Club with community service. I hope to reinvigorate the purpose of the club and associate its business and financial aspects of selling eggs with donations to Heifer International as well as encourage and facilitate stewardship among its members. 

How did you decide upon attending Canterbury? I decided to attend Canterbury because I knew it would give me a sense of independence while providing many opportunities to take advantage of as I grew over my four yers here. I knew I would be able to discipline myself, travel abroad, and explore my faith all in the comfort of the community that I felt when I visited. 

What do you hope to do after Canterbury? After Canterbury, I hope to continue helping people and challenging myself. There was a time when I wish I knew exactly what the future held for me, but now my hope is that I will continue being intellectually curious and use my education to help me grow and connect with people. Through my service learning class in theology and advanced Spanish courses I do know that I want to help people. Perhaps I’ll find myself in immigration law or the Peace Corps.

Who is a faculty member you have a close relationship with as teacher, coach, or dorm parent? My advisor has become one of the most important people in my life during my time here at Canterbury. She has provided me with endless support and advice for three years, and I could not be more excited to finish out my time at Canterbury with Mrs. Ritter by my side! She has worked to make Canterbury my safe haven and always pushes me to do the best I can and be the best possible version of myself every day. 

Maeve O'Donnell ’20

If a crystal ball could tell you anything about your future, what would you want to discover? Right now, I would want to know if I find a major and a college that is perfect for me. So, that in the future after college, I know I have a life that I love, that I’m making an impact on the world, and that I’m growing as a person while helping others grow...and ultimately am just happy!

You’ve been one of the vocal student leaders of the Sustainability Club and have been very involved this year in initiating programming for the community. At what point did you realize that environmental justice was important to you? One year, for Christmas, my dad gave my siblings and I really special gifts. They came in FedEx boxes but weren’t actual things...for me, he wrote a note saying that my gift was a trip to any National Park in the U.S. I chose Acadia in Maine, and so we went camping there together for a few days. That was one of the main pieces  in my childhood that I can point back to and say that it made an impact on my desire to protect our planet. 

What is your biggest fear? My biggest fear is related to the fear of the unknown, but unlike the typical fear of dying or death, it’s blindness. The unknown or uncertain factor that terrifies me is not being able to see. 

Do you think that ties into your love of being outside and surrounded by nature at all? Beauty can be interpreted in many different ways. Musically-inclined people can find a lot of beauty in music—listening and performing—but I like watching things. I like watching sunsets and going on hikes and seeing the views. So, yes, I think it is! For me, some of the most beautiful things are defined through sight. 

Alright, another sense question—what’s your favorite sound? When it’s snowing! Or when I’m walking through the snow. That quietness that you can almost hold. It seems to be still, but it’s not because it’s snowing and there are those small flakes peppering the sky everywhere. Winter is my favorite season so it makes sense that that is my favorite sound! 

Ok, last one, it’s quick! Sunrise or sunset? I’d like to say both, but I’ll stick to sunset. It’s hard to wake up early enough for the sunrise, you know!