One of 360: Tessa S.'21

Kaitlin Resler
Our “One of 360” series kicks off the 2020-2021 year with Tessa S. ’21. Tessa is a day student who spent some of her childhood in Brooklyn but now lives in Ghent, NY with her parents and brother. An avid singer, she participates in many of the music-centered activities at Emma Willard School. In Tessa’s own words:


On home...


Home for me is Ghent, NY, but if anyone asks, I would say that I grew up in Brooklyn and moved up here a few years ago, just because it sounds cooler! My mom is a somatic psychotherapist, my father runs a small marketing and branding firm, and my brother is a 14-year old Loomis Chaffee student! We have a family dynamic that I feel really thankful for, because there is a lot of trust and communication between us all. I think my parents have taught me and my brother that there is a lot of power in being honest and vulnerable, which is why I am really close and open with my family and friends!


On Emma Willard School…


I was instantly in love with Emma both because of the beautiful campus, and also because of how cool the students were. I loved seeing everyone’s unique style and how confident they were in themselves. 


I think the only thing that made me nervous was the fact that it was an all-girls school. However, I think that is what makes Emma such a life-changing experience. Here I have learned how to reframe my mind to see that I don’t need to compete with other girls to take up space or to get someone’s attention. Instead, I can just focus on myself, and grow my confidence while in the presence of other girls. Dropping competition and just being myself has been empowering for me!


On music…


Music is definitely the subject I am most passionate about. From a young age, music had a way of changing my mood and perspective. I could be crying, and all of a sudden a song would come on, and I would feel instantly calm and at ease. I think my love for singing came from the Disney soundtracks and Hannah Montana albums I would listen to when I still lived in New York City. 


There was a Starbucks on the same block as our apartment where I would go almost every day with my Mom. There, I would hop up onto the high steps and perform a 20-minute concert for the baristas and other customers while sipping my hot chocolate. 


I definitely think that as I grew up though, I became more convinced that I had a basic and common voice. I didn’t feel like I had anything new to bring to the world of music. Through Emma and Dr. Spiro-Allen’s teachings, I have learned that my voice doesn’t need to sound different to simply be different. I would still like to learn how to expand my range, become more comfortable with performing, and learn how to mix my own vocals! 


On Emma traditions…


I love Revels as much as the next student, but my favorite tradition would definitely be Eventide. I love how beautiful and serene it is when we are all outside with candles. We prepare for Eventide for months, so to have everything be so beautiful and well-rehearsed is a great feeling! 


On growth...
If you were to ask me this [how to define the “Emma Girl”] during my freshman year, I would have answered, “perfect.” I thought that being an “Emma Girl” meant never handing in assignments late, participating in every school activity, staying positive during any negative situation, and being super extroverted. But as I have grown as a person, my perspective has changed quite a bit. I realize now that I am not always positive during negative situations, I do not participate in every school activity, and I am definitely not extroverted [...] Today, as a senior, I feel like an Emma Girl is someone who finds the courage to speak out when someone has said something harmful, someone who can be confident in who they are and trusting their own perspective, and someone who goes out into the world with good intentions. 


On senior year...


I am so grateful for the support I received at Emma Willard. My life has been richer by getting to know so many students and faculty that provide such a strong support to all of us here. As I am reflecting on my time at Emma, I am realizing how influential it has been. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t had the experiences I did at Emma, and I am really excited for senior year!
Tessa S. '21

Tessa S. '21

Tess and her dad

Tess and her dad



Tess with her family.

Tess with her family.