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Senior Spotlight – Rachel “Ray” Mitchell `24

Senior Spotlight – Rachel “Ray” Mitchell `24

What are some of the activities you are involved in this semester?
I am a peer mentor, student tutor, and part of the Writing Support Club, which helps students with papers and other assignments. I love being a part of Theater Club, where I am not only the president, but I am also an actress and choreographer. I am one of the board members of the EDI Council. I also revived the Spectrum Alliance, an LGBT group that had to be shut down due to COVID, at Country Day to give people a safe and supportive place. Outside of school, I have also been a competitive dancer since the age of three.

What has surprised you the most about your senior year so far?
Honestly, senior year has been tough, but I have felt so supported and feel like I can accomplish anything. It’s more work than most people chalk it up to be, but it’s so rewarding. I don’t feel like the work has been for nothing – I know that I will be a better and stronger person because of it. It’s just nice being a senior and having the opportunity to choose classes that I am interested in, like being able to sign up for a criminal justice class next semester since I am interested in becoming a lawyer. Also, the whole college admissions process has been so much easier because of our college counselors. They held my trembling hand the whole time.

What stands out most to you about your time at Country Day?
Whenever I’m asked this question, I go back to when I visited Country Day as an eighth grader and shadowed for the day. I first thing I noticed in every teacher’s office was that there were signs that said this was a safe place for all. And that’s what I took home with me when I told my parents that I wanted to go to CCD. And when I finally got here, everyone was so nice and accepting. And then joining EDI Council my freshman year solidified it for me. I didn’t have to hide myself to fit in; I didn’t have to worry about others’ opinions, and I could just stay unique and true to myself. That’s what Country Day did for me. I’m definitely walking out of here as an empowered, young woman.  

Graduation will be here before you know it. What plans have you made so far?
I have just recently applied to college, and I haven’t been accepted anywhere yet. But wherever I go, I want to pursue a career that involves a lot of writing, specifically a lawyer in criminal justice because I truly do want to help others. And I also want to continue dancing and acting while in college.

What lessons that you learned or experiences that you had at Country Day do you think will help you the most when you get to college?
I’ve learned a lot about authenticity at Country Day and how important it is to stay true to yourself. No matter where you are or what you are doing, you are you and that’s perfectly okay. I feel like staying true to myself and learning how to express that in ways that are important to me and using that to help others has been one of the most important lessons that I’ll take with me to college.

What advice do you have for younger Country Day students?
I will say two things – try anything and don’t give up. Growing up is tough; Country Day is tough. But if you don’t try something new, you won’t find out what makes you tick. You won’t find things that you love. If I hadn’t decided to try out for [the Upper School’s production of] Clue – which is also a movie that I love – my sophomore year, I never would have found my love for the theater. I would have missed out on an amazing opportunity to make all the friendships and connections that I now have.

What has been your proudest moment as an Upper Schooler?
My proudest moment at CCD was the final bow I took at the end of this year’s fall play, She Kills Monsters. As I took that bow, I realized that I would soon be leaving a community that I love, and one that has made me a stronger and happier person. I’ve met my best friends, learned to be confident in uncomfortable situations, and how to work with others. I will always treasure my long conversations during tech workdays, the loud music played in the dressing rooms, and the smiles after we finished our performances. I am truly proud of the theater community, and I am forever thankful for my involvement in it.

What does leadership look like to you?
It means making a positive change. It doesn’t have to be the biggest change in the world, like curing cancer, but I think making enough to change that is significant enough to put a smile on someone’s face, that you made their day just a little bit better. But there isn’t a clear definition of leadership, and there shouldn’t be. Everyone has the potential to be a leader in their own way.

What opportunities for leadership has Country Day given you?
Country Day hands you the tools to be a leader and then allows you to run with it. For example, by joining EDI Council, I learned how to talk to bring more inclusion to Country Day. I learned how to make people feel included and feel wanted. After that, I just wanted to keep helping other people; I wanted to help others be able to have their voices heard.

What are you looking forward to most in the second semester?
I am looking forward to sleeping a lot more because I will be finished applying to college and that stress will be gone! Most of all I am looking forward to finishing my senior year as a happy person. I can't wait to just keep expanding on my happiness here and enjoy my last moments at Country Day.

What do you think has been your biggest accomplishment as a Nighthawk?
It’s probably being able to enjoy what I’m doing. The fact that I get to walk into school every day after all the work that I do and maintain my smile is kind of incredible. And I think that it is because I get to help others and helping others has made me feel more confident and better about myself. I think it is an accomplishment to look forward to new activities and projects because I wasn’t always like that. I’m happy to take on all the challenges that Country Day presents me.

If you could give one piece of advice or words of wisdom to your freshman self, what would they be?
Everything is going to be okay. Keep your head up. It’s hard being thrown into a new environment, especially one that is so drastically different from your previous one. The challenge will be good for you – it’s what will make you a stronger person in the future.

Anything else that you would like to say about your Country Day experience?
There are so many paths to take at Country Day that you just know that no matter where you end up, you are in the right place. Oh, and one last thing is to buy and read my books when they come out! I’ll make sure they get published and brought to the CCD library!