Our Scholars

Extraordinary Minds

Story: Michael Ardeljan ’13

New York City—Stuyvesant High School

As a first-generation American born to Romanian immigrants in New York City, I attended public school from kindergarten through to Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan before matriculating at Harvard in the fall of 2009. My years at Stuyvesant were great preparation for college by pitting me in a gruelingly competitive but rewarding academic environment; in a class of eight hundred bright minds, I acclimated to the demanding workloads of my teachers while enjoying the company of like-minded and greatly capable students. By coming to Harvard, I was extremely fortunate to enter the next phase of my education on a campus filled with thousands of gifted young people and a new set of surroundings to immerse myself in. During freshman year I lived on the first floor of Canaday Hall Entryway B. The “Batcave,” as my room soon came to be known—a name due to the stalactite-like ceiling and odd room location leading directly outdoors—became a central hubbub and ideal location close to the dining hall for the new friends and old ones I spent most of my time with.

This year I am a sophomore in Quincy House pursuing a concentration in History and a secondary concentration in German. During the spring semester I will be taking a mandatory history tutorial that is notorious for eating up all of a student’s free time, a history course on China from 1900 to present, a German language course on German politics and current events, and a philosophy course on existentialism and religion. Together, they will provide me with a wide-ranging but very stimulating set of topics to increase my historical knowledge and prepare me for my study abroad in the fall of this year. I will be traveling to Berlin for the first semester of junior year to take courses at Humboldt Universität, where I can learn history and economics in German!

In my free time I am an avid musician, playing alto and tenor saxophone in the Harvard University Wind Ensemble and alto saxophone in the Harvard University Band. Both have given me the opportunity to keep playing saxophone, while increasing variety with football games and other exciting events where the ensembles perform. I have also been teaching myself guitar for four years, and just this year joined the Club Lacrosse Team as a long pole defensive player. It has been two years since I played in high school, but I am looking very forward to hitting the field again this spring.

The Harvard Club of New York Foundation has been a very helpful and invaluable resource to me during my time at school. I was humbled and very appreciative of my selection to be a Foundation Scholar, which has assisted me in attending the college and has broadened my horizons by meeting my fellow New York scholars, as well as some individuals from the Foundation. This January break I had the chance to work as an intern at the Harvard Club under Chief Financial Officer Scott Grodnick. It was a fantastic way to gain work experience, meet wonderful new people in the Club, and even maintain a structured schedule while away from Cambridge. In my two-and-a-half weeks at work, I became well versed in Microsoft Excel, which proved integral to the projects I worked on for Mr. Grodnick. Chief among those I completed was a unified database of the entire active Club membership to use in the construction of the website and towards other organizational uses. I am extremely grateful that I was able to work there this winter, and I would not have rather spent my time any other way.

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