Odyssey Scholars Program
As with Homer's Odysseus, our Odyssey Scholars set out on an epic journey of learning and discovery. After choosing an area of study they are passionate about, the Scholars design a two-year research program that combines elements of independent study, academic inquiry, and scholarly analysis. Working with the program director, they challenge themselves academically, intellectually, and creatively as they sharpen their skills in critical thinking, research competency, scholarly writing, and public speaking. The Odyssey Scholars program--engaging, challenging, and fun--culminates in a major public presentation at the end of students' senior year.
Students may apply for the program at the end of their sophomore year.
Here's a brief overview of our current Odyssey Scholars' projects:
A performer and student filmmaker, Lumina is focusing on the Black community in film production for her Odyssey project, studying African American directors while also making her own movies. “I would really like to highlight the identities and experiences of young people of color in New Mexico,” she said. Lumina has been a part of the performing arts community for years, in the areas of dancing, singing, and acting. While she loves performing, she realized she prefers a spot behind the camera. “As I got older, I began to truly appreciate the art of cinema,” she said. “When I was in seventh grade, I had a small part in a short movie, and I instantly fell in love with the whole production.” Last semester, Lumina studied in Switzerland, where she filmed young adults of color who were open to talking about their experiences. Lumina said living in another country gave her an entirely new learning experience. In Zurich, she continued working on her Odyssey project in addition to attending school at FreudenbergGymnasium. Lumina said her “goal is to become a successful woman of color in the film industry,” mainly through directing--though she’s open to other ideas once she gets more experience on set. In her spare time, Lumina also enjoys skateboarding, camping, and shopping at thrift stores.
Click here to visit Lumina's blog.
With the onset of Covid prompting a pivot in Sydney’s research, she narrowed her field of study from developmental psychology to the pandemic’s effect on young people’s mental health. She said she’s focusing on teens because “we are still growing, so what’s being taken away from us is having a great effect on our development.” Her research has included surveys of Prep students as well as interviews with experts in the field. “I have seen a lot of people I care about struggle when it comes to mental health,” Sydney said. “I think being more aware will help me take care of myself and help others around me.” Noting that her interests involve helping others and “just living in the moment,” Sydney holds down a part-time job and is a member of Sandia Prep’s Senior Senate, the Outdoor Leadership Program, and the Golf Team.
Click here to visit Sydney's blog.
A budding entrepreneur, HiiLani plans to further develop her jewelry and embroidery business while researching marketing and entrepreneurship. In the summer of 2020, throughout quarantine, she began creating and selling her hand-made jewelry and embroidered clothing, first to friends and family and then, through her website, domestically and even internationally. “I believe my passion is to inspire people and also everything that comes with being an entrepreneur,” she said. “I also really enjoy learning about business--not only the good things that come with it, but the bad, too.” HiiLani, who has been dancing and competing for 15 years, is a captain of the school’s Dance Team and worked as a dance instructor at a club studio. She’s also held several jobs, including working as a receptionist at a tax firm; creating websites and marketing posts for a team of real estate agents; and teaching at Sandia Prep’s summer program. In college, HiiLani would like to major in business and minor in finance, perhaps eventually creating her own company or even opening several businesses. “One thing I’ve learned is not to wait to make sure your work is perfect, but to go through the process of making it perfect rather than getting nervous that it isn’t,” she said.
Click here to visit HiiLani's blog.
Mariam plans to tap into her passion for helping people of all races, religions, and income levels as she researches immigrants’ access to healthcare in the United States. “One thing that surprised me was the number of people who have passed away just because they couldn't afford the right treatment for their sicknesses,” Mariam said. “This project is important to me because I have always believed that no one should have to die just because they can't afford the right treatment.” Specifically, Mariam plans to look into how differing policies at the state level impact healthcare access for undocumented immigrants. At Prep, Mariam is a member of the Student Government Association, co-president of Empower Prep, and a four-year member of the Mock Trial team. At this point, she’s leaning toward a profession in medicine or law.
Click here to visit Mariam's blog.
With her passion for filmmaking, Mya is pointing the lens toward teenagers for her Odyssey project, which involves expanding her filmmaking knowledge and creating a film that pertains and appeals to young people. In fact, Mya has created short films over the past couple of years, capturing moments and then sharing them with her friends and family. “Film is important to me because it allows me to tell stories in hopes of reaching out to people,” Mya said. “There’s so much creative freedom in making a film, and I think that’s the most beautiful part.” Outside of school, Mya engages in dance workshops. Mya wants to “create and inspire” as she pursues a career as a film producer and/or director. “I am extremely passionate about my craft, the stories it tells, and its influence on those who view it, whether it be through film or music,” she said.
Click here to visit Mya's blog.
A musician and composer, Rowan plans to examine the impact of film scores and soundtracks in the movie industry and ultimately create his own score for a film. “I have been interested in live sound and video, filmmaking/video editing, and film scoring for quite some time,” said Rowan, who’s been playing piano for as long as he can remember and playing jazz specifically for about five years. A member of the Youth Jazz Collaborative of New Mexico since its inception in 2017, Rowan has created and published three videos for the organization, all of which are available on its YouTube channel. Additionally, he’s worked on various projects for Ovation Solutions, a company that provides video editing services to corporations. “One project was an informative interview video, and another was the task of evaluating several videos for the Sadlier School for its Vocabulary Workshop program,” he said. Rowan plans to continue studying music and film scores in college and possibly pursue them as a career.
Click here to visit Rowan's blog.
Sofia plans to study social media’s influence on teenage girls with eating disorders, a topic she’s found surprisingly universal. “Many of my friends agreed that social media has inspired them in a negative manner to be skinny and athletic even if it compromises their own health,” Sofia said. “The sheer number of people I know with eating disorders was shocking to me.” Specifically, Sofia plans to study the extent that social media influences insecure body images that lead to eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and orthorexia. Among her passions, Sofia lists baking, fitness, hiking--her longest hike was 23 miles!--and classical singing. She’s involved in the Young Voices of the Santa Fe Opera and has been singing since she was 7 years old, holding onto her dream of becoming a professional opera singer. “My passions in life are singing and helping other people,” said Sofia, who added that her Greek and Hispanic heritage means she's surrounded by beautiful cultures. As for a career goal, Sofia is leaning toward becoming a nutritionist. “I want people to value their health above their looks and above social media's expectations,” she said.
Click here to visit Sofia's blog.
Pointing out that “my life has been research for this topic,” Tatiana plans to examine the term “resilience” as it relates to Black women and explore how Black female artists translate their experiences through their creative work. “I am a Black woman who has been labeled ‘resilient,’ and it can have many different meanings,” she said. “I wanted to see how other women of different ages respond to those terms.” Tatiana, who’s been presenting her own artwork since sixth grade, said she’s interested in the concept of art interpretation, adding that comments on her work have made her a better artist. “I don’t see very many Black female artists represented in the media, so I thought it would be interesting to dive into their art and examine what made them choose to do a specific piece,” she said. “And what does it mean for the Black community?” Tatiana is co-president of Empower Prep and a member of the Black Student Union and Black Lives Matter (BLM) New Mexico. She helped plan the Youth Celebrates Diversity Conference and participated in the national Student Diversity Leadership Conference. Stating that her “goal in life is to change the world,” Tatiana credits art and civil rights movements with enhancing her own worldview. “So,” she said, “my question is, how can I do that for everyone else?” As for career goals, Tatiana would like to study art in France and eventually work as a civil rights attorney in New York.
Click here to visit Tatiana's blog.