Student Ambassadors

Meet our Student Ambassadors

Meet Our Student Ambassadors

Alyssa Borgschulte

Hometown: Acworth, Georgia

High School: Etowah High School

Year at New College: Third year

Area of Concentration: Biopsychology

I am a huge animal person who grew up around a lot of animals. I used to compete in hunter-jumper English horseback riding, and I love dolphins! I want to study the animal behavior of dolphins or maybe do rescue and rehabilitation of marine mammals. I am constantly trying to go to the beach as much as possible because I love the water. I recently finished up a marine mammal training internship at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and got to work with dolphins, sharks, otters, and pelicans!

Why I Chose New College: I chose New College not only because the location is absolutely beautiful on the water, but because of the unique classes they offered. My first year first semester I took a class on bottlenose dolphins. Where else are you going to find that?

Favorite Things about New College: The Bayfront is one of my favorite things about New College because the water and the sunsets are gorgeous. I also really like the smaller class size because you are able to connect more with your professors and peers one on one.

Campus Activities: I am one of the presidents for the scuba diving club on campus! We help people get certified and go on awesome dives! I am also one of the administrators for Dance Collective, which is a student led club on campus where anyone can dance or choreograph. We have a big showcase at the end of each semester to show off everyone’s hard work! 

Alex Bottorff

Hometown: Venice, Florida

High School: Venice High School

Year at New College: Third year

Area of Concentration: Chemistry

I am a third-year student at New College. I currently live in Venice, Florida (about 20 miles south of New College) and it is where I have lived for years and where I finished high school. I want to study chemistry and pursue a doctoral degree with a focus in inorganic chemistry.

Why I chose New College: The ISP (Independent Study Project) program was important, and so was the contract system New College employs. But, the way each student is a name, not a number, stands out.

Favorite things about New College: My largest class size has been under 50 students, and the students and professors are wonderful. Not to mention the beautiful sunsets over Sarasota Bay.

Plans after graduation: Graduate school for Chemistry is my current path, but the future is versatile.

Sarah Cooper

Hometown: Oviedo, Florida

High School: Oviedo High School

Year at New College: First Year

Area of Concentration: Religion/Gender Studies

Hi, I’m Sarah Cooper! I’m currently a first year, and I use she/her pronouns. Taking AP and Honors classes definitely helped to prepare me for the rigor of New College, but you’ll never know exactly what this school will be like until you see it for yourself. I grew up in Central Florida, so living right by the water is pretty new and exciting for me! I’m currently in the Success Quest LLC which is a Living Learning Community for first-years, so I can certainly answer any questions about the first-year experience here. I can’t wait to see you on campus!

Why I chose New College: From the moment I stepped onto campus for my first tour, I knew that this was the place for me. The small student population fosters a close-knit community that I am now so proud to be a part of, and the culture here is unlike any other school I’ve seen. After Orientation, I came to see that that culture fosters a friendly, encouraging, and supportive attitude to first years, which is not necessarily something I would have expected going into college. Also, because the campus is so close-knit, I love that there’s almost a guarantee that you’ll run into some friendly faces whenever you walk across campus.

Favorite things about New College: By far my favorite part about New College is the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made. The people here are so creative and unique; you’ll never be bored here! I also love that this campus actively tries to be as LGBTQ+ friendly as possible. On a more academic note, I really appreciate the narrative evaluation system that professors use here. As opposed to simply giving students a letter grade and sending them off on their way, students here receive a narrative evaluation at the end of the semester for each of their classes, giving feedback on everything from class participation to individual development as a writer. If I decide on going to graduate school, I know that this will help me more than a simple GPA would!

 Plans after graduation: I hope to be able to travel the world and apply what I’ve learned at New College to wherever I go!

Lorelei Domke

Hometown: Cape Coral, Florida

High School: Mariner High School (FL) and Washington Academy (ME)

Year at New College: Fourth year

Area of Concentration:  Chinese Language and Culture

Hello, 大家好, I’m Lorelei (she/her)! I’m a 4th year Chinese major. I was born and raised in Southwest Florida but attended an international boarding school in Downeast Maine for most of highschool. I have been fortune enough to study abroad this last Spring semester in Beijing, China and Summer in Tainan, Taiwan with CLS. This year I’ll be thesising, working, and enjoying life back in Florida with my amazing peers and professors, 3 younger brothers (one is a 2nd year at New College), and wonderful mom. Outside of academics I enjoy the beach (of course), reading, slacklining, meditation, running, swimming, and cooking all my vegetarian meals. Can’t wait to meet and get to know you!

Why I chose New College: My mom applied to New College back in the day. New College was her dream college but she was denied. I have heard about New College since I was young, in my mind it was always that “dream college”. When I was looking into colleges I saw that New College had a Chinese language program (1 of 2 in Florida at the time). I applied and got in! My (and my mom’s) dream college with an amazing Chinese major program to match!

Favorite things about New College: having a close and meaningful relationship with my professors and campus community! Sarasota: The beaches are very special and hold a special place in my heart. Roads lined with palm trees just make me feel at home/happy.

Plans after graduation: My first step is to go back to China or Taiwan to study, find work in China, or work for the Peace Corps while starting the application process to be a Foreign Service Officer.

Jonathan Goodman

Hometown: Tampa, Florida

High School and/or Previous College: Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Year at New College: Fourth year

Area of Concentration: International Studies and Political Science

My name is Jonathan Goodman, and I am fourth-year student currently writing my thesis. I am pursuing a double AOC in International Studies and Political Science. I grew up in Tampa and Virginia, and I graduated high school in Lima, Peru. Lima fostered my passion for South American and political science. Last year I participated in the NSE Leon program, which had me study abroad in Leon, Spain for one semester. Eventually, I want to complete a postgraduate degree in international migration or international political economy. I was the International Studies Rep for the Council on Academic Affairs my second year, so if you have any questions on the International Studies AOC or studying abroad options, feel free to ask me any questions!

Why I Chose New College: What really drew me to New College were the small class sizes and the thought-provoking class discussions that come out of our great professor-to-student ratio. Along with the knowledgeable professors and the captivating material, New College was the perfect fit for me.

Favorite things about New College: The waterfront is an obvious choice. Also, close to the waterfront is the Ringling Museum. Once a month the Ringling students will host a concert, an open gallery of paintings, and other miscellaneous exhibits, all in one event.

Plans after graduation: I prefer to get my Master’s Degree directly after graduating from New College. If not that, then I am looking to work in a political risk consultancy firm for a little while.

Kara Grissom

Hometown: Tampa, Florida

High School: Blake High School

Year at New College: Fourth year

Area of Concentration: Biochemistry

Hi my name is Kara, I’m a fourth-year biology/chemistry AOC and Pre-Med student here at New College. I grew up in Tampa, Florida, with my mom and two older sisters. I’ve been involved with dance and musical theatre since I was six years old, and I attended a magnet high school for musical theatre performance. In my free time I love to spend time on the beach and outdoors, workout, dance with the dance collective club here on campus, as well as explore new restaurants in the Sarasota area.

Why I chose New College:  The small classes and individualized attention from professors, as well as the close, small campus community are two main reasons I chose New College.

Favorite things about New College: The close professor/student relationships, the community of students who all want each other to succeed, the friends I’ve made here, and all the academic resources available to students.

Plans after graduation: My plans after graduation are to take a gap year to gain work experience, and then attend medical school.

Rozana Jaber

Hometown: Jerusalem, Palestine

High School: Jerusalem School

Year at New College: Fourth year

Area of Concentration: International Relations

Hello, my name is Rozana. I grew up in Jerusalem and came to Sarasota to pursue my undergraduate degree. I was able to attend through a scholarship program that funds study for Middle Easterners. I am a big fan of all sports but especially soccer and enjoyed playing it here. All my family lives in Jerusalem. I have 3 younger siblings.

Why I chose New College: It was a perfect fit since I am not a fan of grades. I feel I am able to express myself better through this sort of curriculum.

Favorite things about New College: My favorite thing about New College is the campus. We have a beautiful sunset on the bay front. My other favorite things are the community of students and the various resources available on campus.

Plans after graduation: My plans are to apply to study in either the U.S., Europe, or Canada. (We’ll see!)

Mackenna Jensen

Hometown: Norwalk, Ohio

High School: Norwalk High School

Year at New College: Fourth year

Area of Concentration: Marine Biology

I am Mackenna Louise Jensen. I am a fourth 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 Hudson, Florida. 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 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 4th grade that 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.

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 do this all while blogging regularly, but that’s the dream for now.

Jennifer Lin

Hometown: Pembroke Pines, FL

High School: Cypress Bay High School

Year at New College: Third Year

Area of Concentration: Psychology and Political Science

Hi everyone! I am Jennifer. I study Psychology and Political Science at New College. In my research, I am interested in understanding the mechanisms that drive political behavior from a psychological perspective. I currently conduct research in the NCF Political Behavior Lab with Professor Jack Reilly and also do empirical research with Professor Catherine Cottrell in Psychology. The skills that these professors taught me allowed me to secure research opportunities in other universities. Outside of New College, I conduct research with faculty members at the Florida International University, Boston University, University of Missouri—Kansas City and the University of Colorado—Boulder as a co-author. Beyond academics, I chartered the NCF Toastmasters club to help students build their skills in public speaking, professionalism, resume development and networking. I also serve as a Career Mentor at the Center for Career Engagement and Opportunity, which helps students develop these career-ready skills as well. I look forward to meeting you to talk about your interests, achievements, and how New College can help you grow based on your uniqueness!

Why I chose New College: I chose New College for its academic rigor. No, this is not the typical competitive rigor that is ubiquitous among the finest high schools in the country. It is the rigor that drives you to think beyond the textbook, explore new possibilities and methods of understanding, and putting these tools into practice. Once you are immersed in an area of study, this is fun learning. It is not about doing better than the person next to you, or better than the whole class, even. It is about learning the information that can be applied for a career to come. At NCF, I never study for an exam and forget the material. I never turn in a paper and let the whole thing be over. The material on the exam or the topic of the paper are instrumental to my overall understanding of the topics in my AOC and will help me shape future projects and goals. Of course, small class sizes and opportunities to develop close relationships with the professors are always a plus.

Favorite things about New College: Freedom to create and innovate. There are many opportunities for one to be creative on campus. In the classroom, students are frequently asked to design study proposals and find clever ways to test them. They are encouraged to ask questions, no matter how crazy they seem at face value (There is no such thing as a stupid question here). For the Independent Study Project or Thesis, the power of innovation leads the way for students to design meaningful experiences and learning outcomes. Outside of class, students can chart their course in campus involvement through the wealth of established organizations. If there is not one, students are able to start their own. Even campus parties are filled with imagination and innovation, and these are great opportunities to draw the campus together and bond. Such an opportunity is not available at any other college or university.

Plans after graduation: I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in either Psychology or Political Science. Whichever way I go, I plan to focus my research in understanding the development and crystallization of political attitudes and behaviors, and how external social forces influence these mechanisms. After this, I plan to pursue a research career at a university where I hope to one day mentor students who are passionate about academia and allow them to have the same opportunities that I was able to get thanks to the resources here at New College.

Marena Long

Hometown: Telford, Tennessee

High School: David Crockett High School

Year at New College: Second year

Area of Concentration: Marine Biology

My name is Marena Long. I’m from Tennessee, a landlocked state, but I have a passion for the ocean. I love being outdoors and reading. I would be the perfect partner for the Amazing Race, not that we would win but it would be a good time. I have two dogs and two cats who are perfect.

Why I chose New College: The chance to do ISPs and a Thesis as an undergraduate was an amazing opportunity, plus I wanted to be near the ocean and New College is in the perfect location.

Favorite things about New College: I love how close New College is to the beach and how many things there are to do around Sarasota.

Plans after graduation: Graduate School/ Shark Week

Rosemary Mejia

Hometown: Crystal Lake, Illinois

High School: Crystal Lake Central High School

Year at New College: Second year

Area of Concentration: Biochemistry

Why I chose New College: I applied to over 30 different Colleges and Universities, internationally and nationally. Outside of the New College’s Financial and Scholarship package I received, I fell in love with the school as a whole. When I visited and experienced a few classes, I enjoyed how students were truly invested in the courses they were taking and the respectfully curious interactions between everyone. I was also attracted to their own “traditional,” grading system, or lack thereof. Students are not in competition with one another or solely focusing on their GPA, but are sincerely learning the material and are constantly focusing on personal growth. New College provides a wonderful environment where driven students flourish.

Favorite things about New College: I have always loved being close to water, so New College was perfect for my dreams of sailing year round while receiving an exceptional education. I adore reading, napping and exploring the weird quirks of New College all over campus. Watching the sunsets from College Hall after class is always a treat. I love how interactive everyone is on campus. The beautiful weather year round allows us to enjoy the campus comfortably. New College students make it extremely easy for their peers to become involved and well-integrated within the campus’ tight-knit community.

Plans after graduation: I have intentions of pursuing graduate school after New College.

Arantxa Prince

Hometown: Orlando, Fl

High School: Olympia High School

Year at New College: Second year

Area of Concentration: Sociology

Hello! My name is Arantxa Prince and I am a second year Sociology AOC. I was born in Kingston, Jamaica and moved to the United States a week before my second birthday. I grew up in Orlando, Fl with my parents, two older brothers, and three dogs. I’m a First Degree Black Belt in the Art of Shotokan. I’ve been involved with karate since I was 4 years old and I currently teach karate to kids grades K-12 with my mom. I’m involved with costume design at the Windmill Theatre Company and have found a genuine passion with the art of expression that costume designing holds. One of my favorite hobby is listening to music, and I’m always up to exploring new artist!

Why I chose New College: I choose New College because it gave me the option to try out so many new possibilities with no restraints. I also appreciate the size of the school because it allows me to have a more personal experience.

Favorite things about New College: My favorite thing about New College is the location! The Bayfront is such a gorgeous sight and we’re only 20 minutes from the beach.

Plans after graduation: My plans after graduation is to attend law school and specialize in family law.

Sara Sheffer

Hometown: Langhorne, Pennsylvania

High School: Villa Victoria Academy

Year at New College: Third year

Area of Concentration: Marine Biology

I am from the Philadelphia suburbs, and from the time I was very young I knew I wanted to live near the ocean and study marine biology. I came from a very small, close-knit high school.  I am a pretty extroverted person. I enjoy scuba diving and being outdoors, especially anywhere by the water. I love traveling, and am always planning where I will go next.

Why I Chose New College: I chose New College because of its excellent marine biology program and lab, its beautiful warm and sunny campus, and its friendly, welcoming atmosphere.

Favorite Things about New College: I love the campus, in particular the gorgeous sunsets on the bayfront, as well as the narrative evaluation system which provides me with deeper insight into my performance in my classes.

Plans after New College: I hope to go on to veterinary school!

Eleni Spanolios

Hometown: Tarpon Springs, Florida

High School:  Palm Harbor University High School

Year at New College: Fourth year

Area of Concentration:  Chemistry

Hi there! I was born in Chicago but have spent most of my life in Tarpon Springs, Fl.  I am studying chemistry and am moving into my thesis year. I have held a variety of positions at New College over the years from being a teaching assistant, a resident advisor, a tutor, and of course a STAR (my favorite job of all). I am also really involved with our student government (NCSA) and will be serving as chief of staff this year! Like most New College students, I am a nerd. For the past two summers I received a Research Opportunity of Undergraduates internship. I spent those summers in Colorado and Utah, working in one of their university’s chemistry labs doing really fun research! However, when I am not working or studying, I enjoy riding my skateboard around the bay, attempting to sail, and hanging out with my friends.

Why I chose New College:  What really sold me on New College was how safe and comfortable I felt on campus. I liked the small class sizes and the idea that I would be familiar with most of the students around me. It made leaving home and going to college less intimidating for me. I also really liked how academically rigorous the classes are. I took a lot of IB and AP classes in high school, and New College seemed like the logical next step if I wanted to maintain that degree of academic rigor in my undergraduate career.

Favorite things about New College: My favorite part of New College is definitely the bay. I love sailing in it and sunbathing by it. The sunsets every night are spectacular. One time, I went to the bay with some friends around 1:00 am, and we saw a moonset, which I didn’t know existed! That is a really beautiful memory from this place that I will always cherish.  My favorite part of Sarasota is definitely the empanada stand at the Sunday farmers market. Yeah I enjoy the student tickets to the opera and orchestra and the beaches, but those empanadas are just so darn good!

Plans after graduation: I am applying to chemistry Ph.D. programs this year. Right now I have about 20 schools on my list from Berkeley and MIT to University of Utah and University of Wisconsin. So hopefully I can narrow down my school search and get into a least one!

Katie Thurson

Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida

High School: Stanton College Prep

Year at New College: Fourth year

Area of Concentration: Religion

I was born in Jacksonville and I lived there until I moved to Sarasota to attend New College. I just finished my sixth summer at a summer camp I work at, where I’ve worked almost every position and I’m now the program director. I love summer camp and nature education, and I’m very interested in the intersections between religious education and nature education at summer camp. I was away from New for all of the 2016-2017 school year, as I was studying abroad in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Why I chose New College: I didn’t apply to New College until March of my senior year of high school, and I really didn’t want to go. I went to a very rigorous and grade-focused high school, and I was convinced that any place that didn’t have grades was not the place for me. I ended up choosing New because it was the most financial responsible choice, and I was still unsure during orientation if this was the school for more. I felt so out of place, like everyone was cooler or stranger than I was. After orientation and the first few weeks of classes, I knew I wanted to stay at New. While all my friends from high school were stuck in huge classes and were struggling to maintain a A/B average, I got to know my professors and focus on the material and trying to make progress that was specific to my own abilities. I love New and I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else.

Favorite things about NCF: I love the academic program at New College, because it gives you the freedom to learn in your own way, while also ensuring your advisor and professors are involved in your life, so you never feel like you are completely lost and alone. I wanted to study political science when I applied to New College, and now I’m a religion AOC. I would have never sought out new subjects without the freedom and fluidity of the academic program at New College. I was also able to study abroad for a year during my second year, which was absolutely transformative and I am so thankful to New College’s study abroad coordinator/program for that.

Plans after New College: I will most likely take a gap year and apply to teaching fellowships. My dream job would be lobbyist for the American Camp Association.

Benjamin Valen

Hometown: Marathon, Florida

High School: Island Christian High School

Year at New College: Second year

Area of Concentration: Psychology

Hey y’all! My name is Ben and I’m a second year Psychology AOC and Art History “slash” at New College. I was originally born in Atlanta, GA but moved to the Florida Keys when I was eight-years-old. Before coming to New College, I dabbled in a plethora of AP and honors courses at my past high school. Taking these past courses prepared me well for New College! In my free time, I enjoy doing photography, hiking, and any activity that allows me to interact with nature. If you see me around campus, come say hey!

Why I chose New College: I chose New College because of its small class sizes and discussion-based lectures. My professors know me on a first name basis because of New College’s 10:1 student/faculty ratio. I learned quickly that my name is more important to my professors and peers rather than just my student number. I also fell in love with New’s unique culture after having my first tour. Being challenged academically and finding myself accepted socially at New was the dealbreaker—much more important than Greek life!

Favorite things about New College: One of my favorite aspects about New College is having no grades! Rather than getting a final letter grade, I receive one narrative evaluation from each of my professors at the end of every semester which discusses everything from my attendance/participation to my writing/exams. Narrative evaluations are extremely helpful because they tell me what I am doing well at while simultaneously revealing areas where I can improve for future coursework. Other than New’s education system, I love being able to watch the gorgeous sunset right behind College Hall and go on late night food-runs with friends!

Plans after graduation: After graduating from New College, I plan on going to graduate school for psychology (I don’t know exactly which division will be my focus, but I’ll find out eventually)! My goal is to either become a psychology professor or practicing psychologist.

Jacob Wentz

Hometown: Ocala, Florida

High School: Gulf High School

Year at New College: Third year

Area of Concentration: International and Area Studies, French, and Economics

Hey! My name’s Jacob. I grew up on a small farm in New Port Richey, Florida, where most of my time was occupied by animals, nature, and barn work. I knew that I wanted my life to be different than my parents’, so I focused on my education and challenged myself in both the gifted program and the International Baccalaureate program. Thanks to my British mum, I have dual citizenship in the U.S. and UK and have always been interested in life across the pond. I’m passionate about music; I play alto, tenor, and baritone saxophone and work for the Sarasota Orchestra. I’m also one of the editors for our student-run newspaper, the Catalyst. In my free time, I like to go on casual runs, hang out with friends, and eat breakfast foods.

Why I Chose New College: I chose New College because of its small size and value. I knew that I wanted to be a leader in a small environment as opposed to a number in an overwhelmingly large community, and the quality of education for the price is unbeatable. I was also really drawn to the artistic environment around Sarasota; the orchestra, the opera, the museums, etc.

Favorite Things about New College: I really appreciate the personal connections that professors have with students and the amount of academic freedom that each student is given.

Plans after New College: I plan on going to graduate school for either international business, law, or journalism. I’m also interested in applying for teaching grants in Europe. In all honesty, I’m not quite sure yet.

New College Student Panel

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