Eisner Scholar Caroline Johnson ’08 is on a lifelong adventure!

My Roycemore story began in 2004, when I entered the Upper School as a freshman after having skipped 8th grade in the Lake Forest public school system. To this day, I remember both my parents and I worrying about whether a school would be comfortable accepting a student who had made the decision to expedite her education. Not only was Roycemore less than concerned with it, they made my entire private high school education possible through the Eisner Distinguished Scholar Program.

I’ve been out of high school for almost 10 years now, and I often find myself thinking about how different my life would be if I had never received that scholarship. My time at Roycemore shaped me in so many ways – from teachers who actually cared about their students’ goals and dreams, to programs specifically designed to maximize learning and development in untraditional ways, I left feeling so confident that I could accomplish anything, and that traditional pathways to success were ultimately more like suggestions than necessities.

After Roycemore, I attended college at Clemson University in South Carolina, where I graduated with two degrees, in Marketing and Political Science. I was a member of the Calhoun Honors College, a leader in the Sigma Kappa sorority, a business advisor on a new product development project, and most of all, a student who continued to be passionate about learning and finding new ways to achieve my goals. I found myself drawn to “out of the box” experiences during my time at Clemson, whether I was being credited as an inventor of a new medical device, volunteering at a shelter for abused and neglected children, or taking road trips to rural areas in the mountains of Appalachia. I knew that education wasn’t simply about sitting in a classroom, and I knew that because I went to Roycemore.

Since college, I have continued to push the boundaries of my comfort zone and expanded my education into areas outside the realm of academic intelligence. I ended up pursuing a career in an area very different from the subjects I studied, and have become a highly successful account manager in the chemical industry; starting my career in The Dow Chemical Company’s prestigious Commercial Development Program and progressing to managing national and global accounts for Eastman Chemical Company, I’ve never doubted my ability to continue learning and growing to reach and exceed goals set for me. I continue to expand my horizons by traveling internationally as often as I can – I’ve traveled to over 20 countries (many of them on my own) and will be going to Antarctica next year to further my progress towards my ultimate goal: reaching 30 countries and all 7 continents by the time I’m 30 years old.

I look back on my life so far, and can say for a fact that none of this would have happened to me without the possibility of a Roycemore education – without the Distinguished Scholar Program. To feel, at 13 years old, that a school sees potential in you, and believes you can be great, is an experience more powerful than words can describe. To be placed in an environment that is safe, and encouraging, and understanding, at a time when schools typically seek to standardize students and their educations, made more of a difference than I can say.

I remember conversations with teachers going well over passing periods and into class time; I remember classes that turned into discussions more often than they turned into lectures; I remember people from all types of backgrounds striving to understand and accept each other; I remember girls playing on the boys’ soccer team, and boys jumping in to help girls during volleyball practice; I remember riding the L for the first time with friends during a free period and thinking how crazy it was that I was doing this without adult supervision. More than anything, I remember a period of my life when I was not only allowed, but unequivocally encouraged to be the most honest version of myself.

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