New College STARS

Meet our Student Admissions Representatives.

Meet Our Student Admissions Representatives

jeedaJeeda AbuKhader

Second-Year Student
Hometown: Amman, Jordan
High School: Amman National School
Area of Interest: International Business/Accounting and Finance

I was born and raised in Jordan. I have a passion for traveling and learning about new cultures. During my sophomore year, I did an exchange year in Santa Fe, New Mexico. After that year, I knew I wanted to study in the U.S. New College is making that dream come true! I graduated from the International Baccalaureate program. I love languages: I’m fluent in Arabic, English and Spanish. I enjoy dancing, running and listening to music. I’m very excited to be able to share my love of New College.

Why I chose New College: I chose New College because it is academically challenging and affordable. The professors and students are wonderful.

Favorite things about New College: The small size of New College enhances my experience — it allows you to meet and know everyone. I also have one on one time with my professors. New College also Offers academic independence and helps me learn new things about myself every day.

Donni Aldrich

Third-Year Student
Hometown: Vero Beach, FL
High School: Vero Beach Senior High School
Area of Interest: Anthropology

Hi! I’m Venezuelan American, but have lived all over the United States and Latin America. I love learning new languages, traveling, and playing the violin, and my best trait is that I can salsa dance to any genre of music. Studying Anthropology is a dream and I have a focus in development and resource distribution.

Why did you choose New College? I wanted a place I didn’t have to sit with three hundred other students in a lecture hall, and could have a good relationship with my professors.

Favorite things about New College and/or Sarasota? How involved our professors and programs on campus are with the community. You constantly are exposed to amazing collaborations and opportunities that are not available elsewhere.

Plans after graduation: Teach English abroad for a bit and then eventually graduate school.

Matthew Bocanumenth

Second-Year Student
Hometown: Bogotá, Colombia
High School: Colegio Gran Bretaña
Area of Interest: International Studies

I was born in New York City to Colombian immigrant parents and have lived in Bogotá for the past six years. My father’s job allowed my family to live abroad for most of my life, which is why I have a tremendous passion for traveling and learning about new cultures. I am also the resident advisor for the International Village LLC dorm! I am fluent in English and Spanish, and am hoping to graduate New College fluent in French. I love to dance and currently hold the admin position for the Dance Collective club on campus. I hope you love New College as much as I do and cannot wait to see you involved in the community!

Why did you choose New College? I am an International Baccalaureate graduate and wanted to continue with a rigorous and affordable academic program.

Favorite things about New College and/or Sarasota? New College’s small community offers amazing opportunities to get involved in whatever you love. When I have free time you will find me exploring downtown Sarasota, St. Armand’s, and the several beaches throughout the city.

Plans after graduation: I hope to one day work for an entity that advocates for LGBTQIA+ rights, such as the State Department or USAID!

Cayli Caruso

Fourth-Year Student
Hometown: Palm Harbor, Florida
High School: Palm Harbor University High School
Previous College: University of Central Florida
Area of Interest: Spanish/Theater

I am a transfer student who joined New College my first year and I haven’t looked back since. I love people, entertainment of all sorts and learning as much as I can in any given opportunity. My interests include video games and anime, cooking and baking, going out to explore (Sarasota has so many nooks and crannies!), participating in/going to theatrical events, and long walks by the bay.

Why I chose New College: I have made so many amazing friends here whom I love as people and respect as academic peers. I love the small class sizes. The fact that professors know not only my name, but also my goals, strengths and weaknesses allows for engagement that you don’t get anywhere else.

Favorite things about New College: New College has such a vibrant campus life, there’s always something going on, and the people here are so unique. I don’t have to float around with a bunch of strangers; I see every student here as a friend-to-be.

Mackenna Jensen

Second-Year Student
Hometown: Norwalk, OH
High School: Norwalk High School
Academic Area(s) of Interest: Marine Biology

I am Mackenna Louise Jensen. I am a second-year at New College and use she/her pronouns. I currently am interested in a Marine Biology AOC with specialization in working with sea turtles and manatees, but am also looking into a more ecology and environmental studies course to get a greater view of how the environment and the animals interact to assist both. I am an out of state student from Norwalk, Ohio, but have recently moved to Port Richey, Florida, and began becoming a Florida resident. I had been planning on living in Florida for most of my life, so I was thrilled to finally get to make the change. I adore most outdoor activities including doing yoga outside. I have danced ballet since the age of 6 and hope to get involved with the dance collective this coming semester.As I live on this planet, taking care of the Earth is very important as well as taking care of myself, so I am very big on recycling and reducing waste (I am apart of ROW) as well as making and using natural products for me to care for myself while not added toxins to the environment around me.

Why I chose New College: I choose New College after reading through what the structure of the school was. I really loved the idea of having evaluations instead of letter grades since I went to a Montessori school till fourth grade and ran on a similar system. I also had just written a paper the previous year before I found New College on the break down of how letter grade do not truly allow for growth, so to find a college that agreed with that made my heart sing. I was also looking for a Marine Biology program that sparked my interest. I literally cried when I read about the Marine Biology program for New College and continued to love many of the other natural science courses, so I could see myself growing at New College and New College still offering me exactly what I needed/wanted.

Favorite things about New College: I love the community of New College. The campus feels like home to me. The professors actually work with you and know who you are. There are always people that care and are interested in who you are and what you do. People push and encourage you at New College, so that you can reach out of your own personal bubble and get what you wanted to do but were too afraid to. I love the environment. Even classes that do not need to deal with things that are outside occasionally go outside for class or for an activity. The school knows its campus is beautiful and actually used it, which is wonderful. As someone that loves nature and animals, getting to use the campus’ environment as a resource for hands on classes and research is so useful. The strong sense of community among students as well as the resources.

Plans after graduation: My dream (who knows if it will happen, but that’s why it’s a dream) is to be able to work on a team that aids in clean up and protection for animals and their environment. I would love to just drop everything and go where needed whether that be to clean up an oil spill or rescue a sea turtle and work with it in a sea turtle hospital. I would love to this all while blogging regularly, but that’s the dream for now.

Eugenia Quintanilla

Third-Year Student
Hometown: Oviedo, Florida
High School: Seminole High School
Area of Interest: Psychology/Russian Language and Literature

Originally from Venezuela, I moved to the United States when I was 8 years old. Before I got to New College, I was very involved in dance team as well as the International Baccalaureate program. Through my time in high school I realized that dance was a wonderful way for me to bond with my peers and express myself. I noticed changes that participation in dance had resulted in for my body and mind and realized that I wanted to investigate these further. I’m really interested in seeing how psychology and dance interact and how participating in dance throughout one’s life can affect a person in all sorts of dynamic ways. I love choreographing and performing and am the administrator for New College’s resident dance showcase; Dance Collective. I really enjoy all kinds of food and traveling and I adore listening to music.

Why I chose New College: I chose New College after realizing that everything I was looking for in an university and in an academic college experience wasn’t being offered by my top choices. Furthermore, the financial aid that New College offered me was a great incentive; especially comparing how much an education would have cost at the other schools I applied to. Being close to home and yet far away to really feel independent was also important in my decision. The sunsets and the beautiful campus were the cherries on top of an awesome sundae.

Favorite things about New College: The unique community by far is my favorite things. There are a lot of quirky spaces on campus and the people that study here are so interesting to talk to!

Logan Schulman

Fourth-Year Student
Hometown: Winter Springs, FL
High School: Seminole High School
Areas of Interest: Theater/Religion

I was born in Philadelphia, but grew up in Central Florida for the great majority of my childhood. Due to my nearness to the world of theme parks, I grew up loving the idea of entertainment for entertainment’s sake, and through that love I found my passion in the dramatic arts. Since high school I have been lucky enough to travel to New York, Vermont, Boston, Miami, and London all in the pursuit of a career in theater. Here at New College I focus primarily on experimental and socially conscious theatre, with specialization in ritual theory shared between dramatic art and faith. I am heavily involved in our theater company on campus, and in the technical aspects of live performance art on campus. Also, my heart belongs to Star Wars; long live Star Wars.

Why I chose New College: I decided on New College in the eighth grade when my older sister toured the school. I fell in love with the brilliant and beautiful atmosphere that has been cultivated here. When it came time for me to start looking at colleges in my junior year of high school, the only question that remained for me was: Can I pursue my theater and my academic goals at New College? And as it turned out, I am more than able to! Very few (if any) BFA programs allow for the kind of academic freedom that the liberal arts curriculum at New College allows; here I can learn for the sheer sake of pursuit of knowledge whilst studying rigorous theater theory!

Favorite things about New College: What I love at New is the freedom given to students in both the academic and social capacities. We live and we learn here as independent adults, with primarily our integrity and notion of responsibility as our greatest guides. Here we learn to exist as productive, thoughtful people who can go out into the world and shake it up for the better. Every person here is totally committed to their own learning and the expansion of their own mind — and every person wants to share their knowledge with everyone else. We love thought-provoking dialogue here, and that is just the greatest darn thing.

Maria Simmerling

Third-Year Student
Hometown: Port Jefferson, New York
High School: Earl L. Vandermeulen High School
Area of Interest: Bio-Chemistry (Pre-Med)

Since I was little, I have always loved dancing. I love all styles of dance and went to many ballet intensives at The Joffrey Ballet School, at New College I get to explore other styles of dance and perform at the end of each semester with my peers. I love cooking (and eating), and like trying new cuisines. I study biochemistry, and can always be found with a cup of coffee in hand. I am passionate about Harry Potter (Hermione Granger is my role model) and I always have at least two knitting projects that I’m working on.

Why I chose New College: New College was my top choice. I wanted a school where I could take the classes I want with people who think in a similar way to me. New College allows me to constantly challenge myself and be challenged by those around me. I’m always learning new things whether I’m in class or not. By the end of my first year, I could tell that even the way I thought had changed so much and that coming here was the best decision I’ve made.

Favorite things about New College: I love being around the students who are all so unique and getting to be part of such a close-knit community.

Plans after graduation: I plan on becoming an EMT while I apply to medical school and then going to med school somewhere up north.

Eleni Spanolios

Second-Year Student
Hometown: Tarpon Springs, Florida
High School: Palm Harbor University High School
Area of Study: Chemistry/ Political Science

I was born in Chicago, but grew up with my crazy Greek family in Tarpon Springs. I have always been active and continue to be so at New. I love sailing, hanging out by the bay and doing yoga with friends. When I am not taking care of residents as a Resident Advisor I love to cook big meals for me and my roommates to share.

Why did you choose New College? I was an I.B. student in high school and wanted the same academic rigor in college without going broke. New College satisfied both of those needs. After visiting the campus a few times, I realized I really enjoyed the culture and the people. After my first year, I couldn’t be more satisfied with my choice. My professors know me and are always there to guide me through difficult times. Not to mention the amazing friends I have made along the way.

Favorite things about New College? I love the small size of the school. It makes everything personal and more manageable. The community at NCF is so welcoming and accepting. I also love to explore Cook Hall and Old Caples. They are my favorite buildings!

Plans after graduation: I want to go to graduate school most likely for chemistry.

James Wells

Fourth-Year Student
Hometown: Fort Myers, FL
High School: Riverdale High School
Area of Interest: International and Area Studies

I was born in Naples, then my family moved to Tallahassee, then back down to Fort Myers. In high school I went through the International Baccalaureate Program and played Quidditch and some football. Now I am at New College of Florida and study Spanish, Chinese, and international politics. I participate in the NCSA (New College Student Alliance) as a Justice in the Student court. I am involved with Chinese club, and play football on the best college football team in Florida. New College has given me the opportunity to intern at the Institute for Multitrack Diplomacy in Washington D.C.

Why I chose New College: When I was looking for a college to attend, I wanted an honors college, preferably small, inexpensive, and fairly close to home. New college offered everything on my list and more.

Favorite things about New College: The small atmosphere of the college allows me to not only know all of my peers, but all of my professors as well. The welcoming atmosphere also makes it extremely easy to be outgoing and get involved with extracurricular activities on campus.

New College Student Panel

Students at New College of Florida explain why they selected New College, and how school has changed their lives. New …