Get to know the Class of 2015

Every new student has a story. Among the 900 new campus arrivals from the Class of 2015 are novelists, mountain climbers, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, artists, musicians and athletes.

Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the outstanding stories of our new first-year students. After accomplishing so much before college even begins, who knows what they will do while at Case Western Reserve—and beyond?

For example: Could Emily Bentley from Centerville, Ohio, be a future Pulitzer Prize winner? She is one of two students who recently completed a 50,000-word novel in one month as part of the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) competition and plans to continue penning her stories—if her course work allows.

But she’s by no means our only writer: one first-year female wrote and illustrated a satirical novella about zombies, while another won a fairy tale writing competition, among others.

Equally creative is Stephen Rodriguez, who, with his sister, created a short film called Not So Super Heroes, following four high school students with “generally useless powers,” he said. Those powers included the ability to conjure up unexplained background music—which all was composed by Rodriguez.

Some of our more adventurous students have plenty of travel tales to write home about. Allison Vogler from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., nearly climbed to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2010 before a virus and high fever kept her a few hours from the top.

“It was a once in a lifetime experience, and nothing really compares to being thousands of miles up in the sky, above the clouds,” Vogler said.

She is not alone in taking adventuresome trips, with others having climbed to the summit of Mt. Whitney—the highest peak in the lower 48 states—and rappelling down a 100-foot medieval tower in Assisi, Italy.

Or there’s M. Rafael Cabrera: He and his family survived a blizzard while on the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii.

“The blizzard came hard and fast. Snow piled up inch by inch and in some places 3 feet,” he recalled. Luckily, his weary family made it safely back to the base of the volcano and to their car.

And then there are philanthropists like Elizabeth Kolar. When her history teacher in Morgantown, W.Va., was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer, Kolar rallied her school and community into action. About 400 people turned out to walk around the school’s track to raise more than $14,000, $10,000 of which went to their teacher and $4,000 of which went to the American Cancer Society. (The teacher gave back some of the money to start a fund for teachers and faculty with serious medical needs.)

To go on about the Class of 2015’s outside-the-classroom accomplishments could take hours to read. Instead, here are some quick highlights of a few students’ quirky achievements:

  • Holds a national record for flight duration in the construction of a penny-class aircraft
  • Won the U.S. Bowling Congress award for bowling 11 consecutive strikes
  • Was part of a state-championship-winning cheerleading squad, which placed sixth in nationals
  • Built a rollercoaster outside his bedroom window
  • Raised more than $8,000 for support efforts in Sri Lanka through a photo exhibit
  • Serves as the founder and CEO of the nonprofit Cycles for Soldiers, which sends bikes to servicemen and women in Iraq
  • Was a member of a Grammy Award-winning band
  • Played in the Little League World Series
  • Sang the national anthem at a Cleveland Cavaliers game
  • Created a game that has been named “best travel game” and is sold in hundreds of toy stores
  • Started up an online T-shirt business
  • Developed iPhone and iPad apps

This list is obviously brief and incomplete—first-year students, what makes you stand out? Tell us in the comments. And, of course, welcome to Case Western Reserve.