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Athenian Alumni Stay Connected Through Summer Affinity Camps
March 6, 2024

“The Affinity Camps give BIPOC and Queer youth tools to be successful in a complicated world... Hopefully, campers will come away from their experience inspired to use those tools to lead and make an impact in the world..to take space in places where they’ve been underrepresented [less visible].”

Anthony Guan ’21, 2024 Queer Counselor in Training Camp co-director and former BIPOC Camp counselor 

In the summer of 2021, Athenian launched its first overnight Affinity Camp. With a few corporate sponsors and a deep commitment to access, the BIPOC Affinity Camp (serving rising 7th and 8th graders) was pay what you can from its inception. The following summer, Athenian launched its LGBTQIA+ & Allies Affinity Camp (now called Queer Counselor in Training or QCIT). Following the same overnight, pay what you can model, QCIT served–and continues to serve–slightly older youth–rising 8th, 9th and 10th graders. From the start, Athenian alumni and students have played a role in  both camps–working as counselors and even directors. Last summer 10 alumni and current students worked as counselors and directors. Meanwhile, the campers are intentionally a mix of Athenian and non-Athenian students.

Athenian alumni who work in the Affinity Camps share a commitment to the vision and purpose of the camps as well as a connection to camp participants. Victoria Akinsanya ’18, who has worked in the BIPOC camp as a co-director since 2023, says, "This is the camp I would have wanted to go to, my work and extended preparation is in hopes of providing the experiences, development, and resources that I didn’t know I needed when I was in middle school.” Anthony Guan ’21, now in his fourth year and returning for his second year as the QCIT Camp co-director. While the campers are only here for eight days, the work to prepare for their arrival is well underway months in advance. Anthony has been working from afar to help plan for the upcoming summer. As someone with an intersectional identity, Anthony has been involved in both Affinity Camps. He enjoys the leadership opportunity, but more importantly, he is inspired by the camp's impact on participants and how it resonates with his own personal experience and journey as a young, Queer, person of color. He says, “Having an affinity space where you can feel transported into a micro community with those with shared identity was critical to my own path and Athenian experience and I feel passionate about the school using its resources to help make this type of formative opportunity available to others.”

While sometimes a hurdle for parents, the boarding component of both Affinity Camps is critical to the overall experience. Founded as a boarding school, the value and impact of a 24-hour education is at the core of Athenian’s mission. The learning and connection that happens in the informal interactions while living together is priceless–and there is simply nothing else quite like it in the Bay Area. In her role as co-dorm head both during the regular school year and for camp, Victoria notes, “community is built in simple day to day interactions, over meals, casual conversations and evening campfires.” Anthony, who was a boarding student for part of his time at Athenian, says, “The boarding component is quite important in the development of our camp…it really creates a space where you are not living in two worlds. You don’t have to switch from a camp to home mindset.”

Do you know someone who would be interested in attending this summer’s camps? Get in touch! Detailed camp information and registration here. Interested in supporting camp access or getting involved? Reach out to Odalis De La O Cortes

“Something I’ll take away from BIPOC Camp is that I have a whole community of people like me behind me to support my ambitions. I valued the experiences with other BIPOC students and sharing things without being shamed.” - BIPOC camper 

QueerCIT Camp dates: June 16-23, 2024
Pay what you can (actual cost per camper: $2,000)

BIPOC Camp dates: July 8-20, 2024
Cost: Pay what you can (actual cost per camper: $3,200)
Will Carey '19
University of Denver
February 21, 2024

Many high school juniors and seniors navigate the college search process without knowing what they want to study. This was the case for Will Carey ’19. Not sure what he wanted to major in, he cast a wide net and chose a school without a particular program in mind. Ultimately, University of Denver–the first school he visited–felt like the best fit.

How did you discover your major?
COVID hit midway through Will’s first year which serendipitously gave him more time (and less pressure) to figure out what he wanted to study. During his months of remote school, Will focused on fulfilling his general education requirements. Knowing that University of Denver had a strong business school, he decided to take various business courses in hopes of finding something that interested him. He was surprised to find that accounting clicked with him, despite not having any prior experience in the subject. He noted, “Accounting wasn’t immediately exciting like some other majors might have been, but I saw something in it. I decided to take a leap and give it a try.” A few courses in, Will saw a path forward– one that would allow him to get both a bachelor’s and master’s in accounting in less than five years through DU’s 4+1 MAcc program. 

Will’s chosen major has provided  great opportunities for professional experience including several internships. He will begin a full-time job at a large accounting firm this summer. He is also pursuing his CPA license. In reflecting on his college experience, Will said, “While this wasn’t the career path that I expected when I applied to college, I couldn’t be happier with how things turned out.” Will is also minoring in philosophy, an interest discovered at Athenian. Having a minor in something totally different has created balance for Will. He said, “I enjoy my philosophy classes…they help you think more analytically and creatively, skills can be applied to every aspect of life. While my major and my minor are very different, they compliment each other in unexpected ways.” 

How did Athenian most prepare you?
While Will mentioned time-management and personal responsibility as important skills instilled at Athenian, he said, “The single most valuable skill from my time at Athenian was my ability to write. It was not the easiest thing for me in high school, but my classes pushed me to improve. I have seen a lot of people really struggle with writing in college. Regardless of your major, you need to know how to write..it is important to know how to analyze information and also how to convey it to others. I think Athenian really set me up for success in that regard.”

What advice would you give your younger self?
“When picking something you want to do with your life, be open minded, the thing you might be most qualified for or enjoy most might be something you don’t even know about yet,” Will said. He added, “You aren’t always going to be immediately passionate about something…sometimes interests develop over time and you need to put in some work before you are able to enjoy them.” And to those thinking about a possible major, Will said, “It took me a while to recognize that I wasn’t going to find a major that fully defined who I was. While it is important to choose something that truly interests you, developing other interests and hobbies that don’t directly correspond with your major or career are really important in life.”
Emily von Zedtwitz '22 
University of California Santa Barbara 
February 5, 2024