An Interview with Alumna, Merrisa Wright
Currently a junior at Fordham University in New York, Merrisa Wright took a break from studying for finals to share some of her Bay Farm memories and offer some wonderful advice for current Bay Farm students.
When did you attend Bay Farm and how long were you a student here?
I graduated from Bay Farm in 2007 as part of a sixth-grade class of seven students. I was a student from Toddler House until sixth grade.
What was one of your favorite memories when attending Bay Farm?
One of my favorite memories when attending Bay Farm was during Celebrate the Differences when I learned about the Philippines. I made a mock journal about a trip to the Philippines and got to present it to the class. I learned a lot about the culture at such a young age. I loved my costume for the show and got to perform the "Tinikling" dance (a traditional Philippine folk dance). Doing Celebrate the Differences each year allowed me to recognize there was a lot going on outside of the fence of Bay Farm. It sparked my interest in other cultures and the importance of openness and acceptance.
Did you have a favorite teacher? If so, who and what made this teacher special?
My favorite teacher was Pat Thompson. She was one of my teachers in fifth and sixth grade. She continually supported my academics, especially when I struggled in math. She realized my struggles did not stem through my inability to learn the material, but by my approach. Without her one-on-one focus, I may have never continued on to excel in math. I am now a math tutor for elementary and middle school students. When working with my students, I use a Montessori approach to allow them to self-identify their weaknesses and overcome them.
What activities or classes at Bay Farm really impacted you and left an impression?
The classes that had a lasting impact on my life were the theatrical performances we did based on the subject we were learning at the time. I still remember the songs I sang in "Bach to the Future" while learning the reasons behind Bach's Fugue in C Major in college. Learning about Spanish imperialism in the new world, I remember singing about money as Queen Isabella. The arts component of my primary education allowed me to explore creativity and learning through theater, music, and art.
What schools did you attend after Bay Farm?
After Bay Farm, I attended Ursuline Academy in Dedham MA, an all-girls independent college preparatory academy for seventh to twelfth grade. I am currently a junior at Fordham University in the Bronx, NY.
What profession do you plan on doing after college?
Currently, I am a working towards a B.A. in music therapy on a pre-health track. I recently was approved for my own individualized major. I am the first and only music therapy major. It is pretty exciting! I worked this past summer as a music-in-therapy instructor for adults and children with disabilities. I currently work with children recovering from trauma and at-risk situations. Music therapy is a rising medical field which incorporates music as a practice to bring about emotional, physical, mental, social, and aesthetic therapy. I am also in the process of undergoing my own undergraduate research project, studying the possibility of a new sports therapy tactic using music to correct stride patterns in lower leg injury-prone runners. After college, I plan to continue on to medical school to become a pediatrician or pediatric psychiatrist. My main ambition is to become a doctor for the people and travel with Doctors Without Borders. I aspire to introduce alternative practices for medicine.
What advice do you have for current Bay Farm students?
My advice to current Bay Farm students is to cherish the opportunities given by a Montessori education. Cherish the fact that you refer to your teachers on a first-name basis. Cherish the times you spend singing about explorers on stage and making pottery at a spinning wheel. Cherish the lesson circles and multi-grade friendships that do not exist in many education systems. The world outside of Bay Farm is structured a bit differently. You will think differently than your peers. You will approach problems within an unorthodox fashion. People may try to put your way of thinking down, but do not let them limit you! Never doubt your Bay Farm education because it gives you an edge many people lack. Good luck, work hard, and enjoy the excitement of learning!
Is there anything else about Bay Farm that you would like to share?
I would like to thank Bay Farm for shaping me into the confident and driven young woman I am today. I am part of a rigorous pre-medical program at my university and am taught that my self-worth is to be determined by class rank, grades, and test scores. However, my Bay Farm education has allowed me to realize I am much more than a test score. I have been able to find my voice in the pre-medical program through the development of my own major and research project. Bay Farm made me confident in my abilities as an independent and that I can do anything I set my mind to. Thank you, Bay Farm!