The 2023-2024 senior speaker series continued on October 23. It featured eight members of the Class of 2024: Amelia Burton, Ava D’Angelo, Katie O’Brien, Paymana, Joseph Jung, Alan Kim, Sam Longley, and MN Mayalarp.
Amelia Burton, a four-year senior from New York, New York, shared one of the most important things she will take from Suffield after graduation: her friends. She said, “Suffield has taught me so much, but the friends I have made here are my biggest teachers of all... I’m sure my friends know how much I love them. But I don’t think I tell them enough how grateful I am, how much they have impacted me and helped me through my time here.”
Ava D’Angelo, a three-year senior from Longmeadow, Massachusetts, shared that she came to Suffield ultimately because of the influence of her Greek grandmother. She said, “My Yia Yia had the goal to send her two sons to schools that would ensure an educational experience... She took my dad on a few tours and by the end of touring Suffield, she knew it was the perfect match. Never did they think a decision they made thirty-eight years ago would result in me being up here today, but I am so grateful for it.”
Katie O’Brien, a four-year senior from West Hartford, Connecticut, talked about her relationship with the people she considers sisters: her cousin, her stepsister, and her Suffield friends. She said, “These girls have shaped me into the person I am today, as they stood by my side through the highs and lows of high school... One thing is for sure: we will continue as sisters.”
Paymana, a three-year senior at Suffield, spoke about her passion for art. She said, “I turn to art when I need to relieve stress, when I want to express myself, and when I need an anchor in the world. I am still finding myself—my own voice, my own style—in every piece I draw. I trust the process, knowing that something is moving in me when I draw, and certain the emotion I always sought will flow.”
Joseph Jung, a four-year senior from Seoul, South Korea, talked about coming to Suffield in an effort to pursue both academics and athletics, and how he was presented with a few roadblocks along the way. He said, “We’ve all had our challenges, our doubts, and our personal mountains to climb. It is what makes all our experiences different. But it is important to grasp such opportunities that are present and work toward what you truly want.”
Alan Kim, a four-year senior from Seoul, South Korea, began his speech by referencing a popular topic in today’s world: AI. In a moment of curiosity, Alan decided to ask ChatGPT who Alan Kim from Suffield Academy was. The outcome? “I had two life lessons: first, ChatGPT’s and my friendship is not mutual, and second, ChatGPT can be useful when brainstorming ideas, but we should be the ones doing homework.”
Sam Longley, a four-year senior from Westfield, Massachusetts, shared what he learned from a story his mom told him as a child. He said, “I believe that anybody can be good at anything in some capacity, with the right tools. If you are patient, if you are consistent, if you try and put in effort, there is nothing you can’t be good at. It just takes time.”
MN Mayalarp, a three-year senior from Bangkok, Thailand, shared stories from his unexpected favorite class: Chinese. He said, “Like many other international students, I am already fluent in two languages: Thai at home and English at Suffield. So I wasn’t too happy when I found out that I still had to fill a language requirement to graduate... In all seriousness, now into my third year of taking Chinese, I can confidently say that it is the class I’ve enjoyed most.”
The senior speaker series is a valuable Suffield Academy tradition and capstone part of the Leadership Program. It is a weekly highlight in our community.