Eyeing Greatness

Eyeing Greatness

A glimpse into the Class of 2017

Hailing from 38 states and 11 countries, the 705 members of Class of 2017 bring to Gettysburg an impressive mix of academic and civic achievements, fascinating life experiences, and a desire for greatness.

Only 41 percent of students were admitted among the 5,453 that applied.

Many students in the Class coupled their in-school academics and pioneered clubs, held internships or were published authors, like Elise Coursey ’17 of Derwood, Md., who published an article in TeenInk, a literary magazine targeted to the youth. The article, Land of the Free, questioned why the President of the United States has to be native born. She asks:  “America is the Land of Liberty? I propose a correction: America is the Land of Liberty to all born in our country. The United States? What’s united about separating ourselves into native-born citizens and those born elsewhere?”

William Floyd '17 of Newton, Mass., along with six classmates, received a $10,000 Lemelson-MIT-InvenTeam grant to invent a technological solution to a real-world problem. William and his classmates used the grant to create an automated robot that carries up to 50 pounds of secured cargo for persons in a wheelchair or who need hands-free help in transporting cargo. William hopes that Just an Automated Robotic Vehicular Independence System, or JARVIS, will provide independence and accessibility to all. 

Another student, Alexandria Hopkins ’17 of Baltimore, Md., spent her summer as an intern at Johns Hopkins University, served as a TV anchor, editor, and cameraman for youth TV channel, and was a finalist in Miss Teen Baltimore competition -- an experience that she says helped her to feel comfortable in her own skin.

Outside of the classroom, many of the students were engaged citizens in their communities and volunteered their time for organizations like the Special Olympics, Big Brothers program, and the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

One student, Jake Hill ’17 of Mazomanie, Wis., served his country as a Marine Squad Leader in Afghanistan. Six and one-half months in to his seven-month deployment, he was severely injured and awarded a Purple Heart. He also helped to save the life of a fellow Marine who was shot in the neck during combat.

The Class also welcomes Regina Lopez-Merrill ’17 of Ojai, Calif., whose family set sail New Year’s Day 2003 only to complete their voyage around the globe earlier this summer -- 10 years, five months, and 14 days later. “Gina” grew up at sea; she and her family navigated the world, dove at the site of a 5th Century shipwreck near Haifa, Israel, survived pirates, and weathered rough waters.  She hopes to one day publish a journal of her travels.

Other highlights from the Class of 2017:


  • Students who are multi-lingual. Languages spoken include Spanish, Japanese, and French.
  • Participated in mission trips to Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala, Ghana, Haiti, Ecuador, Tanzania, Peru, and Thailand.
  • Kayaked 50 miles through Prince William Sound, hiked 40 miles through the Talkeenta Mountains and rafted 40 miles while participating in a three-week survival program.
  • Trained with the world-famous Radio City Rockettes.
  • Ran 91 miles in one week.
  • Created a Big Brothers program.
  • Volunteered for Special Olympics.
  • Participated in a three-month voyage from Massachusetts to the Dominican Republic on a 125 ft. schooner.
  • Studied sharks in Fiji.
  • Rode a horse to school every day for two months.
  • Wrote and directed a one act play. 
  • Started a business.
  • Helped with the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.
  • Traveled all over the world with People to People.
  • Garnered more than 500 hours of community service.
  • Hiked more than 70 miles in 11 days carrying a 50 Ibs bag filled with gear.
  • Created and installed a 25 mile post around a park’s walking trail.
  • Drummer in a band that has opened for more than 100 national touring acts.
  • Competitive figure skater for 10 years.
  • Trained and wrestled with Navy SEALS.
  • All-state student-athlete.
  • Writes and records original music.
  • Raised $15,000 for breast cancer research.
  • Performed in the “Capitol One Bowl” halftime show on New Year’s Day with the All-American cheerleading team.
  • Backpacked across the Grand Canyon.

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Contact: Jamie Yates, director of communications & media relations, 717.337.6801

Posted: Mon, 19 Aug 2013

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