Student Ambassadors

Our student ambassadors are here to answer questions about student life and the academic experience.

Meet Our Student Ambassadors

Alex Conte

Hometown: Orlando

High School: Lake Nona High School

Year at New College: Third year

Area of Concentration: English with a minor in Rhetoric and Writing

Hi, my name is Alex! I currently serve as the student representative for the Counseling and Wellness Center and work in the Writing Resource Center (WRC) as a Student Writing Assistant (SWA). In my spare time, I enjoy reading and exploring Sarasota. My favorite part of the day is sunset because members of the community (students, faculty, and townies with dogs) come to relax and watch the sunset together.

Why I choose New College: I first heard about New College as a freshman in high school. After touring the college it remained my top choice because of the small class sizes, rigor, and individualized approach to education. For the most part, I toured other small (mostly private) liberal arts colleges but I picked NCF because I felt the most at home on this campus. The lack of grades was odd to me at first, but I find evaluations to be much more helpful than letter grades. Narrative evaluations are great for tracking academic progress and obtaining personalized feedback for my work. I highly recommend that if you are interested in New College to visit and take a tour of the campus and sit in on a few classes. 

Favorite things about New College: I love that I am able to connect with professors and staff on-campus to form meaningful relationships. I know my professors and advisor see me as a person and not as a number which is something that I find beneficial as I know they care about me and want to see me succeed. I enjoy watching students present and defend their thesis during baccalaureate week. You really see how proud the professors are of their graduating students and also how emotional the room becomes due to the bonds formed over several years. My favorite resource on-campus is the Writing Resource Center. It’s a great place to be productive and to obtain help on papers and midterms —or to grab a coffee and chat with SWA’s. My top study/writing spot is on one of the plush couches on the upstairs floor of College Hall. It is a calming place to do work because of the view which overlooks the bay!

Plans after graduation: I want to attend law school and specialize in maritime or health law. 

Sarah Cooper

Hometown: Oviedo, Florida

High School: Oviedo High School

Year at New College: Third year

Area of Concentration: Religion

Hi, I’m Sarah Cooper! I’m currently a third year, and I use she/her pronouns. I grew up in Central Florida, so living on the coast right by the water is still new and exciting for me! I’ve been working for Admissions since my first year, and I’ve also been an RA for 3rd Court, our first-year residence hall, which includes the Success Quest LLC, a Living Learning Community focused on cultivating student leadership. I love exploring new places, creating, and making memories with my New College friends. 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. And 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.

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! 

Dan Duprez

Hometown: Jakarta, Indonesia.

High School: Jakarta International School

Year at New College: Fourth year

Area of Concentration: Environmental Studies/ Neuroscience

Hi, my name is Dan (he/him). Some of my favorite hobbies are Scuba Diving, Sailing, and Photography. My favorite marine organism is the rainbow mantis shrimp. Because of my parents’ occupation in the US State Department I have lived abroad my whole life in West Africa, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and Southeast Asia. I love the Florida wildlife and most of all the sunsets. You can catch me many nights at the bayfront taking pictures of the beautifully colored sunsets.

Why I choose New College: Honestly, I did not know what exactly I wanted to do with my life after college and the unique Narrative Evaluation System that New College possesses allowed me more freedom in stepping out of my comfort zone by choosing to take classes in a variety of disciplines that I am interested in. Also, I greatly value travel and New College’s Study Abroad Program stood out among other colleges for its affordability as well as being the only allowing students to travel for a maximum of 3 semesters abroad.

Favorite things about New College: My favorite things about New College are the amazing faculty, intimate classes, the close knit community, and most of all the way New College looks at academics in terms of encouraging holistic growth in their students.

Plans after graduation: I am trying to figure out my passion and if graduate school is for me. Mostly, I am excited for whatever comes next.

Sierra Lamb

Hometown: Savannah, GA

High School: Savannah Arts Academy

Year at New College: Third year

Area of Concentration: International Area Studies

Hi! My name is Sierra, and I am a second year who uses she/her pronouns. I am originally from Savannah, GA and moved to Vero Beach last summer. I am the proud new VP for Queery, and last semester I was a member of the Success Quest LLC for first years and choreographed my first dance for Dance Collective. As someone who grew up dancing and performing, I really enjoyed getting to perform with my fellow dancers and to see different plays and improv events on campus. I am currently pursuing a degree in International Area Studies with a slash in Psychology, as I love learning about new places, cultures, and people. I can’t wait to meet you!

Why I choose New College: When I first visited New College, I was instantly drawn in by the use of written evaluations to judge my performance in a classroom. As someone who disliked the competitive academic environment, I found the evaluations to be more helpful in discussing how I was in the classroom and nurturing the desire to be a better student. The other thing about NCF that drew me in was the people; everyone was so passionate about what they were learning and so welcoming that they really made this place feel like a second home.

Favorite things about New College: The academics, while rigorous, are the perfect amount of challenge for me to explore new topics while also challenging what I already now. The people here are so supportive and encouraging, and I enjoy the deep discussions I have with others. I said it before and I’ll say it again: there is something about New College that brings me peace. I cannot quite put my finger on it, but something special exists at NCF. When you visit, you can see it for yourself!

Plans after graduation: I plan to continue using the tools I gained at NCF to continue my exploration of the world around us, whether it be a city halfway across the globe or in the person next to me!

Sarah Mattea Lane

Hometown: Orlando, FL

High School: Timber Creek High School

Year at New College: Fourth year

Area of Concentration: History / Gender Studies

Hey, my name is Sarah Mattea (she/they). I am a fourth year student studying history and gender studies. My focus is on the representations of women in WWII propaganda, so if you are interested in gender history, gender norms, WWII, or propaganda I am a great person to reach out to! Outside of academics I have been a Resident Advisor (RA) for two years and have grown pretty intimate with New College Housing. I will also be a Peer Leader for our SET SAIL first year seminar about Holocaust history and memory. I am an active member of Queery, our campus’ premier LGBTQ+ club and our German club! I am generally a very bubbly and compassionate person and am always willing to lend a helping hand. I love movies (I adore Wes Anderson), art (Monet is my fav!), flowers (Gerber Daisies are precious), and ice cream (it’s my favorite food). I’m a Taurus with Sag moon and Leo rising.

Why I choose New College: The liberal arts education for a public school price is really what drew me in. When looking at colleges I knew that I wanted something small, I really wanted small classes and an individualized education. I applied to New College on a whim with minimal knowledge, but after I toured, I appreciated the campus itself too.

Favorite things about New College: I love the close community. I came from a high school that is four times the size of New. So, actually getting to know most of my classmates is really rewarding. I love that I can step outside and be able to hang out with my friends very easily.

Plans after graduation: I want to move to a city with good public transit and find a job at a non-profit that supports marginalized youth.

Caroline Link

Hometown: Newburyport, Massachusetts

High School: Newburyport High School

Year at New College: Third year

Area of Concentration: Marine Biology

Hi there! My name is Caroline. I’m in my third year at New College and am studying Marine Biology with a particular focus on public policy. I’m an out of state student from a small town in Massachusetts, so I’m absolutely loving living in this beautiful Florida weather! I love scuba diving and just generally being outdoors, and this year I’m also working in the Office of the Registrar and as a TA for Foundations of Biology.

Why I chose New College: Coming from a high school where one’s GPA and class ranking seemed to define them, I was so refreshed to see a campus culture that strives to break free of that competition. Students at New College are instead able to put that energy and focus into their growth and the academic work they’re passionate about.

Additionally, the availability of undergraduate research opportunities was one of my main considerations when applying to colleges. During my first year, I was selected as one of three students to participate in the Isermann Program. Through this program, I was partnered with a professor and worked on their research as well as my own independent projects during my first ISP and for a month-long summer internship. Presently, I’m helping to write a research paper on corals that will be published this October.

Favorite things about New College: By far, my favorite aspect of New College is how tight-knit our community is. Everyone here is so incredibly kind and I was surprised by how quickly campus began to feel like home to me. No matter what challenge I’m facing, I always know that I have a support network of friends, faculty and staff who genuinely know me and are invested in helping me succeed.

Plans after Graduation: After graduating New College, I’m planning on attending graduate school for Marine Biology and possibly Public Policy. My current dream job is to work for an organization like the Environmental Defense Fund to help advocate for sustainable policies world wide.

Marena Long

Hometown: Telford, Tennessee

High School: David Crockett High School

Year at New College: Fourth year

Area of Concentration: Marine Biology

My name is Marena Long. I’m from Tennessee, but I have a passion for the ocean. Especially sharks and marine mammals. I love hiking, paddle boarding, traveling, 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

Rosemary Mejia

Hometown: Crystal Lake, IL

High School: Crystal Lake Central High School

Year at New College: Fourth year

Area of Concentration: International and Area Studies

Hi! I’m Rosemary. I was born and raised the suburbs of Chicago for the majority of my life. I survived many cold winters up north and decided to take an early retirement and continue my academic career at New College. I am currently pursuing an International and Area Studies AOC. Ever since I was eight years old, I have had intentions of building my future career around completing genetic research, specifically human genetics. My ideal career is Bioethical Research. I love traveling, but I spend my “free time,” sailing and kayaking on Sarasota Bay, reading in College Hall and enjoying the beautiful local museums, parks and beaches.

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.

Fehmi Neffati

Hometown: Menzel Bourguiba, Tunisia

High School: Mount Zion Christian Academy

Year at New College: First year

Area of Concentration: Computer Science

Aaslema! My name is Fehmi Neffati (He/Him)! I am a first year student here at New College with an Area of Concentration of Computer Science. I was born and raised in Tunisia, North Africa. My favourite hobbies are photography, cooking, gardening, and sports. I am new to Florida and loving it so far! I can’t wait to have you on our beautiful campus.

Why I chose New College: 2 days after applying to New College on common app, I received an email from Tiffany, who is the manager of Graduate and International enrollment. Two minutes into a phone call, we started speaking French to each other. From the ability to delineate your own course work and curriculum to the beauty of the campus and the weather of Sarasota. It felt like a home away from home. In essence, I am primarily interested in attending New College of Florida because of how personable the professional staff has been to me. As an international student who lives thousands of miles away, personality matters in the business of the academy, especially since the academy will also be my home for the next four years. Of course, the rigorous Computer Science program is attractive to prospective Computer Scientist, but having professionals staff being so friendly and supportive of my career goals from such an early point in the admissions process gives my reassurance that my interest is their vested interest, and that New College of Florida will undoubtedly support my academic goals.

Favorite things about New College: How unique every single student is. The bay. The tremendous support system and resources. The weather.

Plans after graduation: Grad school.

Freddie O’Brion

Hometown: St. Petersburg, FL

High School: T.R. Robinson High School

Year at New College: Fourth year

Area of Concentration: Studio Art

Hello, I’m Freddie (they/them), a third-year studio-art AOC! In addition to my position as a Student Ambassador, I work several jobs on campus and run some clubs (including Queery, the LGBTQ+ club). When I’m not working on a painting or hanging out in my dorm (the Pride LLC), you can probably find me reading at the bayfront or cooking a new recipe with my friends.

Why I choose New College: I heard a lot of good things about New College when I was researching schools—from the welcoming community to the excellent academics, it seemed like a great school. The deciding moment for me was touring the beautiful campus. When I saw it all in real life, I knew that it was where I wanted to spend the next four years

Favorite things about New College: I love the close-knit community here—it’s easy to meet interesting people and build a good group of friends. I also really value the narrative evaluation system. I appreciate that my professors can help me improve my shortcomings and let me know what I succeeded at.

Plans after graduation: I hope to attend graduate school to pursue a master’s in fine art. After that, I’m interested in becoming a character designer or concept artist.

Arantxa Prince

Hometown: Orlando, Fl

High School: Olympia High School

Year at New College: Fourth year

Area of Concentration: Sociology/ History

Hello! My name is Arantxa Prince and I am a fourth year Sociology AOC with a slash in History. 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.

Jas Marie

Hometown: Brandon, FL

High School: Brandon High & Hillsborough Community College

Year at New College: Fourth year

Area of Concentration: Biology

Hi everyone! My name is Jas and I’m a 4th year at New College. In the summer after my 2nd year I went to Ithaca, NY for an internship related to plant biology. Needless to say, I was inspired to continue research in this area for my senior thesis. During my time at New College I’ve been involved in Toastmasters International (a public speaking club) and Black Student Union. I’ve always been interested in the overlap between natural and social sciences. In the future, I hope to work toward food security by working as an agrobiologist or become involved in health education and reform.

Why I chose New College: I chose New College for a variety of reasons. For one thing, I knew I wanted to go to a small school so I wouldn’t feel out of place. It’s been so easy to form connections and community here. I also came to New College for the rigorous academics, contract system, and surreal waterfront.

Favorite things about New College: It may sound corny but this school makes me feel like I’m going places. Even if I don’t have an extremely detailed plan for my future, I’ve grown tremendously as an academic and as a person I feel prepared to step into the next chapter of my life.

Plans after graduation: Please see above.

Rhys Shanahan

Hometown: Gibsonton, Florida

High School: East Bay High School

Year at New College: Third year

Area of Concentration: Political Science

Why I chose New College: chose New College of Florida after considering what I was looking for academically. NCF, being an Honor’s College in Florida, had caught my eye after reading about the alums that had the school had produced. After talking about NCF with my College and Career Counselor in High School, she explained to me that NCF puts on emphasis on Personal Learning and allows students to tailor their own educations with the support of Faculty and Staff. Considering my desire to attend Law School, I felt, and still feel, that NCF was my best choice in establishing a strong educational foundation for my hopefully future career.

Favorite things about New College: My favorite thing about New College would have to be the freedom of education. While Professors do design their courses preemptively every semester, I am allowed to customize a course alongside a professor that will benefit my degree and student resume for grad school. Every January, the ISP period is by far the best example of this, where I was required to pursue a month long project of my own design regardless of my AOC. I travelled to Panama my first ISP to study Leaf Cutter Ants and then created NCFs first Law Society and hosted a Law focused ISP my second ISP.

Plans after graduation: I plan to immediately enroll at University of Florida’s School of Law and start my education towards getting a Law Degree. With that, I am between the plans of either fully pursuing a career in Law or using the degree to help me pursue a career in Politics. As of right now, I am still undecided, but I know that it is between these two paths that I will choose.

Ben Valen

Hometown: Marathon, Florida

High School: Island Christian High School

Year at New College: Fourth year

Area of Concentration: Psychology

Hey y’all! My name is Ben and I’m a fourth 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 deal breaker—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 social psychology to continue my research focused on LGBTQ+ individuals and other minority groups (My main research interests in social psychology are close relationships, intergroup processes, and in-group/out-group dynamics)! My goal is to become a professor of social psychology and eventually run my own lab.

New College Student Panel

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