Imagine you’re a high school senior offered $1 million in college scholarships. You might hope it includes allowances for transportation and housing, say, a Porsche and a penthouse.
It doesn’t quite work that way, though Juliana Pironti and Chloe Wang, graduating seniors at Carrollwood Day School, did each receive more than $1 million in scholarship offers.
“I’ve never seen it happen before,’' said Joseph Runge, director of college counseling at the school. “You’ll hear anecdotally of one or two kids a year (nationwide)… but I could literally live three lifetimes as a college counselor and never see one kid get close to $1 million as opposed to two in one year.’'
The students, both 18, talked with the Tampa Bay Times about the scholarships, their goals and what made them successful students.
How much in scholarship money do you get to keep?
Juliana: We can only take the amount of scholarship for the school that we end up going to. All the rest of the scholarship money we don’t get to ever have or keep for ourselves, which is unfortunate. (She laughs.)
For example, I’m going to American University, so I can only get the scholarship that they gave me ($32,000 over four years)… It’s in Washington D.C., and I’m going to double-major in musical theater and dance.
Chloe, where are you going?
I have actually not decided yet, because I have a top four schools… and my mother said if I do not decide by a certain date … she’ll draw one out of a hat.
Chloe: Mount Holyoke College, Bryn Mawr College, Syracuse University and St. Lawrence University.
What do you want to study?
Chloe: I’m all over the place always because I have so many different interests, so political science, chemistry and film.
How many schools offered you scholarships?
Juliana: I believe around 14 or 15 schools.
What are your goals?
Juliana: Eventually I’d love to... either stay in D.C. or New York or Chicago, one of those heavy theater towns, and either book national tours or Broadway shows, off-Broadway regional theater. But I also love behind the scenes with choreography and directing, so I just want to be able to really expand my horizons at college. ...
I’m thinking of minoring in psychology, just because, honestly, taking psyche here... I was so surprised at how much I actually enjoyed taking the class and it really gave me the confidence in myself to know that I was able to do more than just theater, because I’ve been doing theater my whole life. It really just opened my eyes that I can do so much with my education that I got here.
Chloe: I have two really big dreams and that’s what I’m sort of torn between, my left and right brain torn between my creative side and my logical side . So my logical side is saying, hey, let’s be a doctor and we’ll go this route. … It’s my dream ever since I was in first grade. ... I also volunteered at hospitals to make sure, is this the field that I really want to go into… and I loved it.
I did take a film class here… and I really enjoyed that as well. I liked working behind the scenes. I loved working with actors, like on-screen actors. I loved script-writing, I loved all the camera-shooting and piecing it all together to see this wonderful short film or short video that I made. So I’m kind of torn between the two and I’m trying to find a school that will support both of my interests. … I did apply to Syracuse’s communications school. … and I was so fortunate enough to get in, I’m also exploring that because I may want to do something (that’s) more of the news outlet.
You both have obviously done well in school all your life. What motivated you?
Juliana: I’ve been going to CDS (Carrollwood Day School) since I was in third grade, and I only have ever gone to IB (International Baccalaureate) schools in my life, and I honestly think that when you’re little, the IB program is so amazing for your development as a person as well as getting you the work ethic you need to achieve your goals in life. ...
I really think it teaches you empathy and really how to communicate well with others from a very young age, which has in turn helped me become confident in myself and my abilities, to help me when I got to the DP program (International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme). They’re such hard-level courses, I was able to have that confidence in myself to be able to succeed in my courses and have the work ethic to not procrastinate, even though sometimes you fall into it, but just get everything done while still balancing my dance after school and productions after school and still have those close friendships. ... It really does a great job of teaching you that at a very young age.
Chloe: I’ve been in CDS since actually first grade. I’m originally from Canada and when we moved down here, my mom’s priority was always finding an IB school. She told me that from the very beginning because she herself had seen what the IB program had done for other kids.
So, for me, the school has also been very influential. They also, like Juliana said, they’ve developed my skills in writing, reading, and the reason why I have such diverse interests is because of CDS. CDS and IB forces you to take different classes in every single subject so you are a more well-rounded student. It’s rigorous and hard at times, where I’m, like, why did I take this program? (She laughs.) But at the end when I’m looking back at it ... this was so worth it. … I’ve always had an interest in learning. School was like, whenever Mom would say, “If you don’t go brush your teeth you’re not going to school,’' I would sob on the car as an elementary kid. I was like, “No, I want to go to school, Mom. Please let me go!’'