The Pursuit of Passion: A Student Spotlight with Zanna Stutz ’18

If you’ve never had a conversation with Zanna Stutz ‘18, you’re missing out.

Growing up in Portland, Oregon, Zanna attended a small K-8 school called Arbor, which she jokingly described as “a very hippie school — we didn’t have grades, we called all of our teachers by their first names.” The youngest to three older brothers — Reed, Derek, and Trevor — during her childhood Zanna could always be found “following them around, doing whatever they were doing.” From playing soccer to skiing, tagging along with her brothers, as Zanna expressed, “[has] definitely made me more adventurous, and continues to do so because they’re willing to take me on their trips, whether it’s for rock climbing, or backcountry skiing.”

When not following her older brothers, as a child, Zanna was always up to something: “I always had a lot of activities going on after school. So, between dance and soccer and singing and Kumon and piano lessons…I had a lot going on.” But, regardless of her heavy schedule, Zanna remarked reminiscently:“I really enjoyed it because I was loving everything that I did.” Starting at age five, Zanna developed a passion for dance and soccer and she cultivated those passions equally until around fifth and sixth grade, when she started to focus more on soccer. “I never really got the flexibility thing down for dance because I was playing soccer at the same time,” she laughed. Zanna continues to bolster her passion for soccer to this day, participating in AYSO VIP games on Saturdays, pick-up soccer on Sundays, and even captaining Thacher’s women’s soccer team.

While Zanna’s brothers Reed and Derek both attended Thacher, she described that “it definitely wasn’t expected that I go to Thacher, at least from my perspective — my parents were very open to looking at other schools, or even having me stay at home, but in retrospect,” she laughed, “I was going to Thacher.” Captivated by Thacher’s sense of community, Zanna fell in love with the fact that “you weren’t limited to being the ‘this’ kind of person or the ‘that’ kind of person.” Bringing with her her love of dance, soccer, and academics, she felt confident that she could continue her broad range of interests and even become engaged in more. Today, Zanna approaches nearly every aspect of life with a huge grin on her face, and she continues to epitomize the best student, athlete, and prefect all in one.

Bringing to Thacher what she characterized as “loudness, competitiveness, and dedication,” Zanna has approached her past four years with open arms. When asked about how she has changed since arriving at Thacher, Zanna answered easily: “I’m definitely more self-confident… I’m more willing to stick to my opinion and challenge others.” In considering her highlight of her Thacher career, though, Zanna sat back and pondered for several minutes, and eventually just shrugged. Perhaps it has been her freshman horse, Jazz, who she affectionately went on to describe as her love and baby; or perhaps it has been getting to pursue her love for the outdoors with her B-Camper certification, EDT camping, and rock climbing; or maybe just being able to continue her childhood passions while also engaging in meaningful discussions as a scholar. Whatever the case, Zanna has approached life and her time at Thacher with a sense of kindness and openness to opportunities around her. At the core of her persona, Zanna carries a solid moral compass that she heeds in every aspect of life. “Be kind to people,” she expressed simply, stretching back into her seat. “The small acts of kindness can go a long way — it’s easy to get caught up in petty drama or ‘this person’s so annoying blah blah blah,’ but at the end of the day, if you’re nice to people, they’ll probably be nice to you. And life is just easier that way.”

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