Autumn Bachofen ’21 (USA) has accepted a Presidential Scholarship to attend the Kilachand Honors College at Boston University and will begin her studies in the fall of 2022 following a gap year in Paris. The Class of 2021 Valedictorian turned down offers from Barnard College of Columbia University, Northeastern University, Denver University (with merit scholarship), University of Tampa (honors program with merit scholarship), and University of Colorado Boulder (with merit scholarship).
A bilingual scholar who excelled in the classroom throughout her four years at TASIS, Autumn closed her high school career in spectacular fashion. She amassed 41 points on her IB Diploma assessments and received three prestigious Graduation Awards at the 2021 Commencement Ceremony: the aforementioned Valedictorian Award, the Cynthia Whisenant Award for Excellence in English Literature, and the H. Miller Crist Award—the highest recognition accorded by the TASIS Faculty to one senior each spring.
Autumn was far from just a standout student. Recognized as a natural leader by both her teachers and peers, she left an indelible mark on the TASIS community through her roles as a dorm proctor (she was the first TASIS student to be selected as a proctor in grade 10 and would go on to serve as a Head Proctor), Varsity Soccer captain, dedicated member of the student-directed Service Learning Board, and founding member of the Social Justice Club. “[Autumn] is truly the whole package, and she personifies the values of a TASIS student,” noted Headmaster Christopher Nikoloff moments before he announced her as the H. Miller Crist Award recipient. “She is community-minded, committed to positive change, highly intelligent, and incredibly kind with a true generosity of spirit.
Following her graduation in May 2021, Autumn answered the following questions about her four years at TASIS The American School in Switzerland.
Do you feel that your time at TASIS has prepared you well for college?
I definitely feel well-prepared for college! Especially as a boarding student, I feel that the experience of living away from home and having both the independence and self-discipline to accomplish my goals will give me a leg up when adapting to university life. I took the IB DP, and although saying that it was difficult would be an understatement, it really did help me not only by challenging me to manage a rigorous workload but by teaching me to see and think about the world differently. I'm curious about a lot, and now I know how to properly wield this curiosity and turn it into something more, and I can't wait to see how this translates to university life after my gap year in Paris.
How did the College Counseling Office influence your path and help you achieve your goals?
I actually wrote in my senior survey that if I could change anything about the College Counseling Office, I would just clone Ms. Fishbein. The entire team certainly influenced my journey to university by providing me not only with the resources to find schools and fill out the applications but by giving me the support and guidance I needed to find what kind of school would fit me best. When I went into the college application process, I was really scared and overwhelmed. I had no clue what I wanted, where to look, or how to start figuring this out, but with their guidance, I was able to start asking myself the right questions and identify what to look for in a school that would allow me to thrive.
What experiences have you found most inspiring at TASIS?
It would be pretty hard for me to answer this question without mentioning Academic Travel. The trip that sticks out to me as the most inspiring was an Honors World Literature trip to Florence with Dr. Love. I don't think it even registered until pretty recently how special that trip was. It was a perfect storm of epic poetry, cultural sightseeing, creative writing, and actual torrential rain, and to think that students at TASIS are lucky enough to have experiences like that multiple times a year makes me feel so grateful. As for other inspiring experiences, I would say that the TASIS Speaker Series did a really good job of giving the rest of the senior class and I perspective on the possibilities that exist after graduation.
What courses or teachers will you remember most fondly?
I am beyond grateful to have attended a school with teachers who are such competent educators and passionate people. I remember back in my freshman year on the De Nobili terrace asking Dr. Love how to write a decent thesis, and now I care probably a bit too much about the way writers shape ideas—and use this way of thinking to analyze ideas that matter. Physics class with Mr. Hughes was always a good time too, especially when nobody laughed at my puns. Not even Nadia.
What do you think you will miss the most about your time at TASIS?
I don't think there's a place quite like TASIS. Being able to have so much to do at once is really a rush like none other. I'll miss the struggle of learning every name in my dorm, dragging my friend out to make the 4:39 bus every Friday after school, weekly "family" dinners with some of the best friends I've ever had, dining hall debates, Ski Week, soccer season, and maybe even the sweaty hike up to Ca' Gioia to avoid reciting poetry. I miss it all already.
I don't think there's a place quite like TASIS. Being able to have so much to do at once is really a rush like none other.
Clearly dealing with a pandemic for your final three semesters isn't how you and your classmates wanted to end your time at TASIS. But is there anything positive you've been able to take away from all of this?
I'm not going to pretend like the pandemic made anything easy, but it did certainly place an emphasis on the parts of life we may not have fully appreciated before and forced us to become more adaptable, patient, resourceful, and grateful. When we transitioned over to distance learning after Covid kicked us off of campus, I learned just how important those small interactions between classes are, and it made me really grateful to be back in person for my senior year, even if it wasn't your typical last year of high school. It also made me realize how much of our response to a difficult situation actually is in our control. We all had to cope with our situation, but a shared experience brings people together, regardless of whether or not it was a good time or a total crisis. Everyone could joke about the struggle of plexiglass communication, mask-wearing, and different check-in times, and if you approach these challenges with the right attitude, a 7:00 pm check-in can lead to the start of new community traditions...or just not being able to take a nap because you can hear Enrique and Martin's "singing" in the Palestrina from your dorm in Lanterna. If you know the glass is half-empty, you can choose to focus on the water that's there, I guess. I'm honestly just glad we had a graduation at all (sorry, Class of 2020!).