"I'm a learner, naturally." That's how Sofia Garza '21 described herself. "There's never been a subject I've disliked, really."
The senior said she's always asking questions in class, and that her interests are so diverse, she's just as intrigued by how cells respond to different pathogens as she is about why an author chooses to explore a particular topic.
"I just have this desire to know things," she said.
That desire has been nurtured during her time at IWA. When she came to visit the school, and attended an open house, she recalls that she was shy and found herself drifting to the edges of whatever activity might be happening.
"But a Falcon Ambassador came over and talked to me," she said.
The experience made her feel welcome, and that, she said, made all the difference.
"I knew I could really call this place my home," she said.
Sofia loves IWA's nurturing spirit, and the sisterhood she shares with her fellow students, and she also loves the variety of classes offered here. An avid reader, she said that one of her summer reading assignments was an eye-opening experience.
"I read 'How to Read Literature Like a Professor' by Thomas Foster, and it was so interesting. I really saw reading in a new light," she explained. "The literary analysis he talked about helped me get a deeper satisfaction with books I read. I'm really excited to read more new books after reading his!"
Sofia plans to keep reading as a part of her post-high school life. She's looking at pursuing MD/Ph.D. programs in college, but wants to minor or double major in creative writing or English. That combination, she feels, will fuel her twin passions of reading and research.
"I took part in a summer research program at Berkeley a couple of years ago, and had the chance to learn the basics of lab work," she said. "I'm really interested in neurodegenerative diseases, like ALS. So, I'll often go into my own research spiral, exploring things on my own."
In addition to her academic involvement, Sofia is also president of the IWA Choir. In the role, she is able to bring her own spin on leadership to the ensemble. Because in-person interaction is so important to her, and because of her experience as a once-shy freshman, Sofia places a priority on helping new choir members adjust to the group and feel welcome.
"I love mentoring younger students," she said. "And the choir is really an embodiment of community, where we meld all our voices to make one sound. Community is so important."
She, like many IWA students, is looking forward to the day everyone is back on campus together. Until then, though, she'll be reading and researching, and singing virtually with her fellow Falcons, finding ways to keep everyone together, even while apart.