Montverde Academy’s Alumni and Development Office has been reaching out to recent alumni over the summer to learn more about their current lives and life aspirations since graduating from Montverde Academy.  2014 MVA Class Salutatorian Julia Grace Buddendorff, of Mount Dora, Florida, who is attending the University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida) in UF’s pre-med honors program, is featured in today’s Alumni Spotlight.  Grace spent four years at MVA, and excelled academically (she was the South Lake Chamber’s Chamber February 2014 Student of the Month), and was enthusiastically involved in student athletics and with several clubs and organizations.  The following set of questions are from an interview conducted with Julia in June:

What do you wish you would have known “your first day” of college/university?

On my first day of college, I wish I would have known where my classes were!  Actually, I wish I would have known to dive right into organizations and clubs that interest me.  They are a great way to meet new people that share similar hobbies or aspirations, especially if you do not know may people attending the university.  Surround yourself with those with the same priorities and dreams as you, and it is easy to stay on the right path.

How did the Academy’s curriculum prepare you for college/university life?

Montverde’s teachers were extremely helpful by teaching AP classes as if they are college classes.  They taught me how to learn and how to teach myself, both of which are required to succeed in a college course.  Montverde also offered many opportunities in involvement in clubs and sports.  Being well-rounded is one of the most crucial qualities one can possess.

What else do you feel you need to learn as you continue your academic life and prepare for your work career?

I must continue to learn how to balance typical daily responsibilities with my coursework, sports, organizations, and volunteering.  I must also learn to maximize activities that aid in the success of my career and minimize the rest by keeping my priorities straight.  Currently, I am involved in volunteering at the ER in Shands Hospital and at the Westside Samaritans Clinic to provide health care for the underserved.  It has been exposing me to many aspects of being a doctor, including how to interact with patients.

What are some of the toughest problems you have had to deal with as a college student?

In my first year, I have only had to deal with the typical freshman problems: a troublesome roommate, taking on entirely new responsibilities, and not being able to be there for my little sister for her freshman year of high school.  However, one of the most difficult decisions I had to make was my decision to quit club swimming and joined the UF Water Polo team and began running.  This gave me more time to study, volunteer at a clinic, and take on a leadership position in a club.

What influenced your decision to attend your college/university school of choice?

I decided to attend UF because it is one of the best colleges (considering its price) in the nation.  I figured that I should attend the less expensive public college over a pricey private or out-of-state college due to my plans to further my education and attend medical school.

How much interaction do you still have with other students you graduated with from MVA?

I keep up with my closest MVA friends daily even though we all attend different colleges.  I commonly see a lot of Montverde people around Gainesville, since UF is home to a lot of us.

In your own experiences, what are some attributes of individuals/students who are most successful?

The students who are typically most successful are those who have their priorities straight, stick to a healthy and productive schedule, and know when to buckle down and focus on what is important to them.  I only just finished my first year of college, but already I have seen and experienced the difference these attributes can make on students’ success.

Most colleges/universities possess strong leadership, diversity, and outstanding curriculums. What makes your school unique?

The University of Florida is unique in that we have a strong sense of Gator pride in our sports teams.  From football to basketball to gymnastics and baseball, we have top tier athletics across the board, so we are very competitive.  The Swamp really brings us all together.  Many students also choose to participate in club sports to stay healthy, have fun, and meet new people.  We have a very active and healthy student body.

If you had to do all over again, what would you do differently as a student at MVA?

If I could relive my time at MVA, the only thing I would do differently is to take more AP classes.  I should have challenged myself more and taken more classes for college credit because those college credits are incredibly useful to getting Gen Ed requirements out of the way.