HomeEditors' PicksCarmel seniors follow various passions through successful college application season

Carmel seniors follow various passions through successful college application season

Published May 10, 2024


From Oklahoma to Cambridge to right next door, most college-aspiring Carmel High School seniors have finally committed to their future place of study in hopes of pursuing their passions in different fields.

Chiara Kvitek plans to major in Civil Engineering in order to become an urban planner after being accepted to Cornell early decision. (courtesy of CHIARA KVITEK)

Darren Johnston, who has worked as a college counselor at CHS since 2008 and works closely with many seniors throughout the application process, notes a positive overall trend found this year among many students applying to college.

“This year’s class, the Class of 2024, had a very successful year of college acceptances, particularly amongst highly selective colleges or universities,” says Johnston. “They yielded the kind of success we haven’t seen in years. It’s been quite a while since we had a class like this.”

As the Class of 2024 obtained an array of acceptances to top colleges such as Columbia, Georgetown, Harvard, Pomona, Princeton and Rice, one thing remained the same: CHS students attending college next year selected colleges and majors that aligned with their passions and future career goals. In order to stand out in a stack of thousands of qualified applications, Carmel students found that demonstrating interest and action was what allowed them to succeed.

Continuing her goal of becoming an urban planner post-college graduation, Chiara Kvitek, a future freshman at Cornell University, will be majoring in Civil Engineering, focusing on the creation of smart cities. After graduating from Cornell, Kvitek plans to work to mitigate climate change in urban settings.

“The project teams Cornell offers definitely stood out to me because they allow students from different majors and disciplines to work together on a STEM project or competition,” says Kvitek. “These unique and hands-on groups were a major pull factor for me because research and design experience as an undergraduate is a priority of mine.”

Tim Marnell, a future student at University of California, Berkeley, is also interested in sciences involving environmental matters. 

Tim Marnell will be attending University of California at Berkeley as an Environmental Economics and Policy major. (courtesy of TIM MARNELL)

“Currently, I am in the environmental economics and policy major, which is in the college of natural resources at Cal…which is where my major is considered to be one of the best colleges in its field in the world,” says Marnell. “This will prepare me for going into environmental economics in the future.”

Also interested in the science, technology, engineering and math field, Abigail Kim, a CHS senior now committed to the University of California, Santa Barbara, for chemistry and biochemistry at the College of Creative Studies, decided on attending UCSB due to the array of opportunities offered there.

“I got super lucky and got into the College of Creative Studies, which is described as a ‘graduate school for undergrads,’” explains Kim. “They offer really cool opportunities like offering internships as early as the winter quarter of your freshman year and also priority registration on classes and so many other cool opportunities that no other schools I got into offered.”

Kim is not only eager to take advantage of offered educational internships within the area, but also to continue her passion for music through clubs, pep bands and orchestras offered on UCSB’s campus.

Gia Panetta, who will attend Harvard University while concentrating on Molecular and Cellular Biology, also chose a university based on the available research and internship opportunities, which may assist her in gaining experience as she hopes to pursue a PhD in the field.

“Harvard has a ton of research opportunities,” explains Panetta. “Some are even paid. As an undergraduate, it is a privilege to work in a STEM lab, so I hope to take advantage of the opportunity that Harvard offers.”

Mark Albiol, who was recently admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, notes that the effort put into college applications can dramatically impact the results.

“What helped me throughout the process was seeking out help when I could and tens, maybe hundreds, of hours of work on the applications,” says Albiol.

What helped these students succeed throughout the college application process,

Carmel High senior Brooklyn Chavez plans to continue her education at San Diego State University as a Comparative International Relations major. (courtesy of BROOKLYN CHAVEZ)

Panetta and Kvitek say, was starting their essays in advance to give themselves optimal time to work on building their narrative. Students may be required to write up to five supplemental essays, perhaps the most time-consuming section, for a single college application.

“I started brainstorming my essay topics over the summer, which made the process of writing during the fall that much easier,” says Kvitek. “Keeping track of deadlines and staying organized with a spreadsheet of dates made the process much less daunting.”

While many students at CHS have interests in the STEM field, a significant number of students have passions concerning social sciences and humanities. Brooklyn Chavez, who plans to major in Comparative International Relations at San Diego State University in the fall before attending graduate school in the same field, first realized her passion early in high school.

“I originally became interested in international relations when I joined Model United Nations, but I realized I wanted to take a more personal approach to the issues so I chose Comparative International Studies as it tends to focus on issues with the help of non-governmental organization,” says Chavez. “I likely will go to graduate school as I’ll need a graduate degree to continue in the field, but getting an undergraduate degree at San Diego State University helps to create the foundations for future education.”

Giddalty Obeso plans to major in both business and kinesiology, a mix of social science and health science, at Monterey Peninsula College before finishing his bachelor’s degree at California State University Monterey Bay. Obeso hopes to become a personal trainer and open his own gym in the Monterey area after drawing inspiration from the nearby Gold’s Gym and 24 Hour Fitness.

Abigail Kim plans to major in Chemistry and Biochemistry at the College of Creative Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara, next fall. (courtesy of ABIGAIL KIM)

“Being a personal trainer, owning my own gym and working in business are my personal goals, and MPC will help me reach that,” says Obeso. “I have heard a lot of good things about the kinesiology program at MPC and also at CSUMB–they have a great program there too.” 

Similarly, Lily Marciano, an incoming freshman at Oklahoma State University, demonstrated her passion for working with children throughout her high school career, as she will be pursuing education as her major. Through spending time working with children at the Carmel Youth Center and as cheer captain for CHS, she was able to develop her budding interests.

“From there I learned I enjoy leadership, helping others, and working with children–all of which are characteristics of a teacher,” says Marciano. “I then talked to more and more teachers and gained an understanding of what the job would consist of and realized it was something I would enjoy. Since then I have been interning at Carmel River School in a 2nd grade classroom and will be a student working at Carmelo, both of which confirmed my passion.”

With just four weeks of high school left for Carmel seniors, the class of 2024 is ready to embark on their next adventure whether it be college, university, work or a gap year.



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