If you attended the EXPLO 2022 Pre-College Summer Program, chances are you caught glimpse of Andrea Alave sketching quietly in her notebook. Andrea, a native of Buffalo, NY, went out on a limb to attend EXPLO. The program marked her first time away from home alone and required her first solo plane ride to get there. While presenting her plane ticket via Apple wallet made her feel very grown up, locking herself out of her dorm on the first day did not (although she can laugh about it now).
An avid artist and computer programmer, Andrea has always sketchedimportant memories and moments in her life, and EXPLO was no different. A flip through her summer sketchbook illustrates moments in time, from that first plane ride to her beloved roommate, various EXPLO classes and activities, and of course, her EXPLO friends. Some friends she hadn’t met yet even stopped by to find out what she was drawing and if they might make an appearance in her book.
“EXPLO allows you to find yourself, parts of yourself you haven’t explored. It’s an environment for self-discovery, growth, and conquering something new.”
That first day, sketching helped Andrea, who felt a bit homesick, acclimate to the EXPLO experience. But, thanks to a peptalk from her Godfather, support from her Student Advisors, and a bit of courage, Andrea put herself out there and found herself drawn into all kinds of new experiences she’ll never forget. From ultimate frisbee and volleyball to karaoke, Andrea amazed herself with the things she tried – and loved.
“EXPLO allows you to find yourself, parts of yourself you haven’t explored. It’s an environment for self-discovery, growth, and conquering something new,” says Andrea. She also credits the program with giving her insight into and confidence about her upcoming college experience, proving to herself that she will find her people at her chosen school and thrive, just as she did at EXPLO.
Andrea recommends EXPLO as a great opportunity for high school students to dive deeper into specific areas of study they might consider in college. Even as she heads off to school next year, she’ll continue to relive her EXPLO memories through her sketches, including those inspired by the sweet doe she encountered on a serene walk around the Wellesley campus – one of her very favorite EXPLO moments.