Get a once-in-a-lifetime college experience: high school edition


Ella Curlin

Ella Curlin spends a month at UT Martin with her new friends at Governor’s School for the Humanities.

Ella Curlin, Staff Editor

In the span of one week at Governor’s School for the Humanities (GSH) at University of Tennessee at Martin, I had made the best friends of my life, and by the end of the month, I would have given anything to stay. 

During my month studying at UT Martin, I learned the value of channeling my love of art, politics, and writing. I also made friendships that last a lifetime, all while getting a deeper understanding of what I wanted out of college and a career.

When I arrived, my counselor placed me in a dorm suite with eight other girls and handed me a schedule for Art History, Assessing American Exceptionalism, and a role in the GSH newspaper. 

Within a day, a group of my classmates and I had explored the campus, from the wide tree-filled greens between buildings to the huge library. Every weekend, counselors drove us by bus to various grocery stores, restaurants, or coffee shops.

Within a few days, I was fully immersed in my classes. From studying the progress of art from the Paleolithic Age through the Renaissance, to debating American politics with the university’s history professor, to working as one of two editorial editors on the newspaper staff, I felt more driven and immersed in my schoolwork and learning environment than I ever had before. 

The classes at GSH weren’t overwhelmingly difficult, but they were interesting and in-depth. With open-note essays and creative final exams, I learned to dig deeply with what I’d learned. My professors were smart, charismatic people who formed valuable connections with their students through discussion-based classes and valuable office hours. 

The other students that I was there with were some of the most intelligent and kind people I’ve ever met, and by the end of the month, I’d made enough memories with them for a lifetime. My memories of that month range from late nights in our suite’s common room, to improvised poetry slams, to running around in the rain or having genuine and real conversations.

I left GSH feeling more excited for college than I’d ever been before. I now know more than ever what I’m capable of and what I want to do with my future. For anyone considering applying, I can’t encourage you enough. It’s genuinely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.