“The moment I stepped on campus, it felt very familiar … I just knew this was the place I wanted to be,” says Emma Anane ’21. From her very first trip to Lawrence Academy, the boarding student from Hillsborough, N.J., says, “It really just felt like home.”
“It’s like a warm hug. It’s a very comforting place,” she continues — even when a global pandemic made it impossible for the school community to all be physically together on campus.
“I felt very supported and very heard during all of this … I feel like, in a way, it made us very unified,” Emma shares. “Having quick [digital] encounters with [other members of the LA community] is very comforting … [Our teachers really understood] how hard it was for us and took time, whether it was in classes or after classes in office hours, to talk to us and let us know they’re here for us and they understand.”
It’s a go-to Lawrence Academy talking point, those close faculty-student connections, but, Emma says, it really is something unique. “I really haven’t seen that in this capacity anywhere else,” she notes.
“All my public school friends are fascinated [by my personal connections with my teachers and other faculty and staff members],” Emma adds. “It’s really, I think, one of the things I’m going to miss most when I miss LA, because it’s going to be really hard to find those relationships elsewhere.”
Emma won’t be going too far from Groton after graduation, however: She’s been accepted early decision to Boston College, where she’ll be studying neuroscience — a decision she affirmed during a RAIL (research and immersive learning) program she designed for the winter term of her junior year. Emma studied schizophrenia and the cognitive effects of high levels of THC on the adolescent brain, which culminated in a discussion with on-campus medical personnel and a research report, respectively.
“Once I saw that LA offered me to explore [my interests in medicine, neuroscience, psychology, and cognitive sciences] in my own way and take it to specific places I was interested in … it was a really good opportunity … and I turned that interest into something physical, that I could see and work on and loved and was really passionate about,” Emma reflects. “I started off that process not knowing what I was doing … and it was kind of hard for me to grasp the whole idea of independent research, especially that young … [but] I had amazing faculty facilitators and faculty support that guided me through the whole thing.”
Emma learned far more than she expected during that term, she admits: medical vernacular, organization, and professional demeanor. “I love that I got more from it than just basic data, basic information that I was obtaining from the topics I was researching,” she adds.
“When I took this course … I was just really indifferent about the avenue I wanted to take in college. I was feeling very insecure about the topic I wanted to study … I was feeling very doubtful, even though I was passionate about it,” Emma says. “It confirmed my admiration and my passion, and I knew it was something that I wanted to do.”
As a first-generation college attendee, Emma has particularly leaned on her LA college counselor throughout the application process. “She’s been incredible, honestly,” Emma gushes, and she was one of the first people Emma called when she got her acceptance letter from BC.
Emma’s also found a mentor in Pamela Nwaoko ’06, a fellow New Jersian and daughter of Nigerian immigrants who holds degrees from Georgetown University, the University of Oxford, and Harvard Law School, and is now a corporate lawyer. The two first connected through the Lawrence Academy Mentorship Program (LAMP), a resource that brings current LA students of color together with alumni.
“She’s a boss,” Emma says of Pamela. “It was really great to have her guidance … She’s been my voice of reason … She’s just an amazing source to have, especially knowing that she was also a Black woman who went through LA and went to amazing avenues later on.”
Emma Anane ‘21
Boarding or day student? Boarder
Hometown: Hillsborough, N.J.
On-campus activities: LAMP (Lawrence Academy Mentorship Program), Elm Tree Society, Faculty-Student Senate, Student Government, Special Events Committee, Umoja, lacrosse, four years of varsity volleyball (2020-2021 team captain), varsity boys’ basketball team manager