When I Was 17: Mr. Sawyer

Set the Scene:

At seventeen years old I was at the end of my junior year and the beginning of my senior year in high school. I was at Claremont High School, which is in the city that includes the Claremont Colleges. My high school had about 2,000 students, and I played tennis in the spring and soccer in the winter of my junior year, and I ran cross country in the fall of my senior year. I was also in my high school’s ski club, and it was an active ski club (they would have a trip every other weekend and I went on about ⅔ of those trips beginning in my junior year). In the fall of my senior year, I was also taking the SAT and applying to colleges. I had already made up my mind and had earned enough credits, so I graduated in the fall trimester of my senior year.

What were you imagining you would be doing for a living?

At that point, my career goal was to become a veterinarian. I was very interested in science, and I had an early interest in biology. I also had a lot of animals growing up, and had a lot of backcountry experiences (a lot of fishing).


I wish I had been bigger and taller. I was the smallest person in my high school class until probably the middle of my sophomore year. I graduated high school at 5’6 and 120 pounds. So I actually got to experience what bullying was like; I was picked on for being small (he chuckles).

First kiss/love?

I had girlfriends, but at that age, they never lasted more than a month or six weeks.

Advice for current students (academic or social):

The biggest advice I could give to any student would be to enter every single class you’re in with the intention of learning as much about the material that’s being presented to you as you can and worry a whole lot less about the grades of specific assignments. Almost everyone finds at one point in their educational career that if they quit worrying about grades and start worrying about mastering the material, that’s the point when grades become easy. Trying to get good grades is a very, very difficult thing to do.

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