Drive the Common Thread for Class of 2012

  • From left to right, first-years Garland Bartlett, Margot Conte, Jess House and Jarell Diggs.  

Failure is not an option. In fact, it never even enters their minds.

Community service is the norm.

They are determined scholars, athletes and community activists. This is Franklin & Marshall’s Class of 2012.

Director of Admission Services Aaron Basko described the class as “highly driven and achievement-oriented.” If they have a fault as a group, Basko said, “it’s that sometimes you have to encourage them that [college] is not only about achievement, but about growth, too.

“Our professors want students who are willing to stretch and grow, do research and ask questions. They’ll get it with this class. We’re hunting for students within that group of high achievers who are willing to take a risk that they might fail,” Basko said.

Rather than valuing individualism, these first-years tend to see themselves as a unit, Basko observed. “This is a group who did community service, not to get into college, but because their friends did community service. They look at life and say ‘we’re going to advance as a group. If we work together we all get ahead,’” he said.

On a Friday evening, just after dinner, four first-year students from Schnader House were hanging out at Pandini’s in the Steinman College Center. When asked what got them into Franklin & Marshall, they agreed it was their determination.

“Ballet,” said Margo Conte, an 18-year-old from Westchester, N.Y. “I was a preprofessional ballet dancer,” Conte said to the wide-eyed interest of the others at the table. Conte said she and her Admission counselor talked a lot about the concentration it takes to be a dancer and how important focus is in academics.

She plans to study film and media in hopes of becoming a filmmaker.

Jess House, 18, of Newtown, Pa., doesn’t know what she’ll do after college.

“I’m telling you now, though, that I’m going to be successful,” she tells her friends with a laugh and a smile. But she is only half joking. For House, like the others, success is a foregone conclusion.

During high school, she played soccer and spent two summers working at Camp Discovery, a camp for underprivileged kids. Although undecided on what she’ll study, she is not worried. “You can call me an amazing student if you want to,” she said.

Garland Bartlett captained her swim team in high school. The 18-year-old from West Hartford, Conn., excelled in art and drawing, but is not quite sure what she’ll study here.

“I tried to be a well-rounded student. I did community service in church. Tried to keep my grades up and swam a lot,” Bartlett said. She said her Admission counselor understood that she simply doesn’t give up, ever.

Jarrell Diggs from Baltimore already knows his path. The 19-year-old will study economics with an eye toward becoming an investment banker.

A strong student and athlete in high school, he dedicated a lot of time to community service. He tutored kids in inner-city Baltimore, and took part in neighborhood cleanup projects there.

This past summer he interned at Brown Advisory, a top capital-investment firm Baltimore.

“I’m going back there when I’m done here,” he said.

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