3 WHHS seniors selected for prestigious UNH program
3 WHHS seniors selected for prestigious UNH program
Posted on 01/21/2016
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WEST HAVEN, Jan. 15, 2016 — The last day of high school has come early for three Westie seniors, who said goodbye to grade 12 Friday and started classes Tuesday at the University of New Haven for free as full-time undergraduates.

West Haven High School seniors Sarah Grillo, Ashley Dalton and Alexandra Marron became UNH students for the spring semester after being accepted into the university’s highly competitive Outstanding High School Senior Program, which gives a small group of top West Haven and New Haven students (three from West Haven and 11 from New Haven this year) a head start on earning their college degrees. The girls will still graduate with the WHHS Class of 2016 in June and may still participate in WHHS sports, clubs and senior activities, but they are finished with WHHS classes.

Though trying for an OHSSP spot meant enduring another application process this fall while they were already busy applying to four-year college programs, the girls all agreed it was worth it.

“When I heard about the opportunity, I felt I should take advantage of it. You get free tuition and the college experience. I wanted to get a feel for college, and I’ve always pushed myself to try new things,” Marron said. “UNH helps you with the transition and can give you study techniques if you’re struggling. If I make mistakes now, I can fix them and be better prepared for college next year.”

Grillo, Dalton and Marron will commute to UNH for classes like English composition and communications, may use campus academic resources, and are already looking into clubs and volunteer activities they are interested in joining. At the end of the spring semester, they will have earned free college credit that can be transferred to the university they start attending in the fall, or put toward a degree at UNH.

All three have already been accepted to several colleges and are waiting to hear from more before making a final decision on where they will head next year. But they are confident in the majors and career paths they want to explore.

Grillo, whose sister is an OHSSP alum, plans to pursue nursing, with the goal of eventually working as a pediatric nurse practitioner. She’s been accepted to Fairfield University and Salve Regina and is looking forward to getting an early glimpse at college life at UNH.

“At first, I was a little apprehensive to apply for OHSSP because I thought I might miss high school, but I realized I’d be getting a full college experience for free, and I saw how successful my sister was in the program,” said Grillo, the WHHS Class of 2016 salutatorian.

At UNH, Grillo will also be taking calculus and physics, having taken advanced placement (college-level) classes in both subjects at WHHS this year. She also previously took AP chemistry and psychology at WHHS.

Marron will be majoring in pharmacy and has been accepted to Temple University, Western New England University, UNH, the University of Bridgeport, the University of Maine, Husson University and University of the Sciences. She was accepted to the University of Bridgeport and UNH during the November WHHS School Counseling College Decision Day at the Savin Rock Conference Center, where multiple colleges gave on-the-spot decisions to WHHS students who had applied early.

At UNH, she will also take calculus and chemistry classes. She previously took AP psychology, government and politics, chemistry, physics, calculus and human geography at WHHS.

“I applied to all of the colleges as a pre-pharmacy major. I’ve always loved medicine, but have never had the stomach to be a nurse. So I looked at different fields on Naviance,” she said referring to the online program WHHS students use to evaluate college and career options. “I found pharmacy and it seemed to fit me.”

Dalton has interests in both special education and forensics, and hopes that taking a criminal justice class this semester at UNH will help finalize a decision on which major to declare. So far, she’s been accepted to Eastern Connecticut State University, Lasell College, University of Bridgeport and Southern Connecticut State University, with UB and SCSU acceptances coming at the WHHS College Decision Day.

She will also be taking a computer science course at UNH.

All three students have the added challenge of trying to continue with their high school sport and fitting in practices and games when they’re not in class. Grillo is finishing up her last season on the hockey team, Dalton plays lacrosse, and Marron is a softball player.

In addition to sports, the girls have been heavily involved in WHHS clubs during their high school years, including the Peer Advocates community service club, yearbook, Class Council, the National Honor Society and its MDA fundraiser, and Unified Sports.

That involvement is part of what helped make their high school years a success, they said.

“I’ll miss my schedule here and the daily routine. At UNH, it’s going to be more about time management because I’ll have a different schedule every day,” Dalton said. “And I’ll miss my teachers here because I knew I could always go talk to them if I was having a problem or needed advice.”

School Counselor Heather Kannengeiser, who attended a recent UNH welcome celebration with the Westies, said they deserve the honor of being accepted into OHSSP and are seeing the results of being hard-working, diligent students.

​"The Outstanding High School Senior Program is such an amazing opportunity to recognize and reward students for their efforts and achievement in high school. We are so proud of these three young ladies for all they have accomplished and feel very fortunate that the University of New Haven offers this program to our students,” Kannengeiser said. “We wish them all the luck and look forward to seeing them on graduation day in June." 



Contact: Communications Director Susan Misur, 203-937-4300 X7114; susan.misur@whschools.org