Following an exceptional four years at TASIS, Joy Mack ’21 (USA) will pursue a Literature/Writing degree at University of California San Diego (UCSD). The California native, who ultimately hopes to manage a publishing company, also received offers from UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, Pepperdine University, University of San Francisco, and Chapman University.
A very well-rounded student who speaks English, Chinese, and Italian and maintained Highest Honors status for her entire senior year, Joy took nine Advanced Placement (AP) courses at TASIS—English Literature & Composition, English Language & Composition, European History, Art History, Drawing, Microeconomics, Statistics, Physics, and Environmental Science—and earned AP Scholar awards in both grades 11 and 12.
Joy’s many selfless contributions to the TASIS community and beyond made her an easy choice for the distinguished Jan Opsahl Service Award at the 2021 Commencement Ceremony and for the Cathy Clark Memorial Scholarship, which recognizes and rewards a student who demonstrates exceptional dedication to community service, her junior year. She spent three years in the Ecovisio Moldova Global Service Program group, occupying a leadership role her senior year; served as a dorm proctor for two years; served on the High School Student Council for two years; was the manager of the Girls Varsity Basketball team for three years; played Varsity Tennis for four years, earning the Most Improved Player award as a sophomore; and through her role as a student writer for the Communications Office penned more than a dozen articles about life at TASIS, including recaps of Academic Travel trips to Florence and Geneva, a journal-style account of Ski Adventure in Crans-Montana, an examination of the International Food Fair, pieces advising students how to approach AP exams and the college admissions process, and a number of faculty features. In recognition of all she did for the School, her peers selected her to be a student speaker at the 2021 Senior Banquet.
Soon after her graduation in May 2021, Joy answered the following questions about her time at TASIS The American School in Switzerland
Do you feel that your time at TASIS has prepared you well for college?
Though I will be sad to leave TASIS after spending my entire high school career attending this school, I am excited to see what university and my future have in store for me. Thanks to the courses and workload I took on during my time at TASIS, I feel incredibly prepared to brave this new chapter of my life. I know that because of the independence I have now due to the boarding school experience, I can feel less nervous about venturing out on my own in a similar college dorm setting. I would also say that, having gained that independence, I have learned how to socialize and put myself out there more than before, leaving me completely prepared to continue to expand my social circles in college.
In what ways did the College Counseling Office help you achieve your post-secondary goals?
The mentorship I gained from my college counselor, Mr. Birk, has been one of the highlights of my time at TASIS. I would say I had a clear vision of what I wanted in my college experience and, with Mr. Birk's expertise, we were able to help that vision come to life. I am beyond excited to continue my education at UC San Diego, and I could not have done it without the school's guidance, advice, and support.
What experiences have you found most inspiring at TASIS?
I would say that the most inspiring experiences I've had at TASIS would be those prompted by my peers and many of my teachers. When I look around at the connections I've made at school, I cannot pinpoint specific experiences that have been inspiring without appreciating the people that made them happen. The friends that are fearless and continue to strive for the best in academics and an external activity such as social justice serve as my ultimate inspiration. I would say that I am so lucky to have made the friends I have in my time at TASIS because they have all individually taught me how to evolve as a person. These are the people that have made my time at TASIS irreplaceable.
On that same note, I feel it is necessary to address that there are many teachers I have to thank for inspiring me to push for what I believe in. Whether that was Mr. Chevalier’s admirable choice to address current world issues in our Global Service Program group, or the choice to look at history from multiple perspectives in Mr. Roccato’s US History class, I have learned that, in order to make an impact, you have to speak up and spread awareness. These are the experiences I have found most inspiring in my time at TASIS.
What courses or teachers will you remember most fondly?
There are many courses that I could point out at TASIS that have helped me evolve in various ways. Dr. Love’s Honors World Literature class was no easy feat, but it was the driving force for the realization that literature was my passion, the very thing I intend to study in university. I would also say that Mr. Schwartz’s Calculus class sparked a newfound love for math.
Ultimately, the thing I will miss the most is the relationships I've formed with many of the teachers I've come across here. These are not necessarily teachers that I've had in class, but teachers I have come to see as mentors and friends as I've grown at TASIS. As a proctor, teachers put a lot of trust in you as a student body representative. I believe that came with the privilege of getting to know many teachers through mutual respect.
Lastly, Mr. Knee, my advisor, has been my guidepost for everything these last four years. He would always find a way to make sure that we do not put too much stress on ourselves as students. I appreciated that he had a genuine care for his advisees throughout our time here. I will remember Mr. Knee as the first faculty member I felt comfortable enough to confide in about anything.
What do you think you will miss most about your time at TASIS?
It is definitely hard to point out one particular thing that I will miss most about my time here. But I know that this experience will forever change how I look at the world. I will miss the conversations I had with the women who work at SaraLì, the same women who complimented me on my progressing Italian-speaking skills throughout these four years. I will miss seeing the same teachers I admire in the classroom during meals in De Nobili and having profound discussions with them about topics even outside of the curriculum. I will definitely miss the friends I've made here and the people who inspired me the most. But most of all, I will miss the fact that this school and the people in it were my home and safe haven for the last four years. I could not thank TASIS enough for the most unique and priceless high school experience I could have asked for.
Having to contend with a pandemic for your final three semesters clearly 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?
When we were all sent back home from school during the spring of 2020, I would say that the thing I prized most was the ability to spend more time with my family than I had in a while. Going to boarding school is definitely a worthwhile experience, but I didn't quite realize how much I missed my family until I had that chance to stay home with them for more than a winter break. That said, the pandemic also showed me that I am capable of staying in touch with the people that mean the most to me no matter how far away we are. That aspect definitely makes graduating less difficult because of the distance we will all travel to go back home or to university.
I am so thankful we got to have our graduation and that I had the chance to celebrate all that we have done with my friends. If anything, the pandemic has shown us how temporary everything around us is and how to appreciate what we have in the moment. I would definitely say that Covid-19 has taught many of us to not take our high school experiences for granted, and that is what I urge those who are not graduating to continue to do. Before you know it, you’re the graduates walking across the stage.