Every month, we’ll be catching up with a recent alum still in college to learn more about their college experience, how they have dealt with disruptions during COVID-19, and how their time at Berkeley Carroll prepared them for their life Beyond BC!
Graham Stodolski ‘19, Yale University, Studying Computer Science and Film
What year are you in college?
I’m currently a sophomore.
When you were in the Upper School, how did your actual college process compare to what you had assumed it would be?
At first, I entered the college process only wanting to apply to engineering schools—I was dead set on studying mechanical engineering and nothing else. However, reflecting on my time at BC helped me realize the importance of two things: 1. not restricting myself to a single path or course of study, and 2. the value of a close-knit, vibrant community. I ultimately prioritized these learnings and chose a college where I could see myself feeling more at home—one where I wouldn't be restricted by a rigid curriculum or get lost in a crowd of thousands. From the moment I first set foot on the Yale campus, I instantly felt comfortable and could envision myself aimlessly roaming campus or, more likely, rushing to my next class or club meeting. That's how I knew it was the right fit—not because of the rankings, acceptance rate, student-faculty ratio, or whatever—but because it felt like a place I'd be happy.
How do you think BC prepared you for your college experience?
Of course BC prepared me for college—the rigorous academics, independence, overwhelming number of options in the dining halls (thanks, BC dining staff!), etc. But most importantly, BC left me with a lifelong love of learning. From trips to Wyoming, Italy, and India, to Spring Intensives and elective courses, my curiosity was always piqued. School never felt tedious but instead encouraged me to explore what I was passionate about. In college, that's translated to excitement in classes, clubs, and learning from those around me. It's something that I'll have with me for the rest of my life, with BC to thank.
Are you still pursuing passions you discovered at BC, and have you discovered any new ones?
I honestly think I spent more time at school than I did at home. I came early in the morning for the Wind Ensemble, then left late at night after play rehearsals. I've already continued the arts in college—I was in a play with the Yale Dramatic Association, play saxophone in the Yale Jazz Ensemble, and serve on the board of the Yale Undergraduate Jazz Collective. I was also a Peer Leader and Peer Tutor at BC, which I've continued in college by leading a class on the physics of music for Splash at Yale and teaching New Haven kids how to code with Code Haven. I even discovered a new interest in film after randomly taking an intro-level course! It's now my second major. So, I'm always pretty busy at school—I guess some things never change.
This has been a particularly challenging year, and probably a lot different than you expected. Have there been moments that you look back on that have made you more resilient?
After having to leave campus for remote learning just over halfway through my first year for an uncertain summer, I was lucky enough to accept an internship for my semester off last fall, 2020. I joined the Product team of a small, exciting fintech startup focused on making employee ownership the future of small business. For the past few months, I've been building meaningful software and working with an incredible team, all while gaining real-world experience that I couldn't be more grateful for. So, I definitely feel resilient and hopeful for the future; despite facing a major disruption of my college experience and plans for the year ahead, I was able to find a way to work with and help others during these incredibly tumultuous times.
What advice would you give a current BC student as they are thinking about college?
My biggest piece of advice is to start the college process early. It's the worst, and that's inevitable. But, the earlier you take your tests and write your essays, the more time you get to celebrate your successes and consider where you'll be happiest. And forget all the rankings—pick a place you can genuinely see yourself thriving academically and socially.
Did anyone or anything at BC have a particularly profound impact on you?
Dr. Holsberg. I would've never picked up an instrument let alone play jazz without his influence. His mentorship, whether in jazz band rehearsal or nowadays via text, helped me gain a deeper understanding of music and the world surrounding it. Plus, he's a funny guy.