Weekend Wisdom

Bela Parekh ’14

20
“Raise your hand.”
“There was more than one instance in college when a professor, a classmate, and even a teaching assistant asked, ‘Where did you go to school?’ Maybe because I was the only girl or person to raise my hand, I attended office hours even if I didn’t have a question, or spoke comfortably, able to laugh, during discussion groups with high-ranking professors. At first I thought it was conversational curiosity that led to the question, but it was often followed by others relating to my secondary school experience. Although they weren’t astonished to hear I went to a private secular school, most were surprised that Kent Place is an all-girls school.
 
“KPS taught me to raise my hand without looking to see who else had one up. KPS allowed me to take charge of my education. KPS encouraged me to become confident in who I am.
 
“I went to Kent Place for high school, in retrospect quite a formative period. I recall classrooms in which teachers didn’t ask us to raise a hand — names were called out for responses, and the less attentive we were, the more likely we were to be called on. As intimidating as that may seem, there was no wrong answer, as long as an attempt was made, and there was no judgment.
 
“Kent Place provided many ways for us to express ourselves. The multitude of clubs and activities meant we interacted with one another, with other schools (yes, co-ed ones, too), and in larger forums. There were sports, leadership conferences, ethics symposiums, a visit to the New York Stock Exchange. I left Kent Place confident and ready to seek out and embrace opportunities without fear of being wrong or failing. Sometimes that happened; I certainly didn’t win or succeed in everything I tried. I was present, though, learning from the experience, meeting new people, and coming away unscathed.
 
“Raising my hand at Kent Place for four years prepared me to raise my voice and be heard.”

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Kent Place School is an all-girls K through 12 independent college preparatory day school with a coeducational Preschool, located in Summit, NJ.