The Gulliver Difference: An Academic Summer Fueled by Passion

Lauren Bartel ‘22, a Gulliver lifer and sophomore at Gulliver Prep, had an impactful and impressive summer. 

“There are three great academic passions in my life – creative writing and literature, the natural sciences, and visual art – and I had the chance to continue pursuing all three this summer in exciting ways.” 

In the creative arts, Lauren began working on her first full novel, to be set in New York City, and had one of her works of fiction published in a nationwide literary magazine. She also submitted a treatment for adaptation as a pilot for a television show series. “I sought to mix elements of compelling imagery, drama and a bit of science fiction and wove something that tries to grab the viewer with a twist at the end. That would be the intent for each episode as character and plot development unfolds.”

Lauren’s summer didn’t stop there. She worked part-time at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine Biology as the only high school student who was part of a graduate and post-graduate research team, performing molecular genetic, biochemical and physiological assays and conducting experiments involving isolating mitochondrial DNA. “It was so wonderful to be challenged on my chemistry skills while working in the labs alongside academicians and graduate students from whom I learned a great deal.”  

In addition, Lauren continued work she began in her freshman year at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. She has served as a volunteer guide at the Garden and worked in the state-of-the-art laboratories alongside scientists on laboratory and field research pertaining to botanical genetics and elsewhere in orchid reproduction. 

In the life sciences, Lauren created and founded a young birders group at Tropical Audubon Society this summer, and co-wrote a winning grant that will help fund the organization, focused on engaging Middle and High School students across the South Florida region in ornithology and habitats. Lauren does quite a bit of painting, sketching, and photography, and some of her artwork, including her works of birds, are now included in Tropical Audubon Society materials and available to the public for sale.

What motivates Lauren most is her desire to make a difference; to “help move the needle and affect positive change.” 

A natural self-starter, she was selected to serve on the Academic Honor Council and was tapped by the Gulliver Prep faculty to take over leading the Peer Tutoring Program. The program was started during the 2018-19 school year and Lauren is “working to develop it into a robust and sustainable program.” Her efforts are intended to design a program that gives students who need help in particular academic subjects the tutelage from peers who have performed well in those subjects. To prepare, she spent part of the summer researching peer tutoring programs that have worked well in high schools across the U.S., identifying best practices. She then wrote a full business plan for Gulliver’s implementation this Fall at the Prep.

“We hope the Peer Tutoring Program will be a wonderful opportunity for students who wish for additional assistance to bolster their knowledge and performance in a particular class to be paired with high-performing students. It also gives the opportunity for student tutors to get to know their subjects better, and helps build a stronger student community through more social interaction between students who might otherwise not have known one another.”

With a really productive summer, Lauren enjoyed traveling to Portugal, Spain and the Caribbean with her family, and spent a lot of time locally hanging out, swimming, enjoying the outdoors and spending time and staying connected with friends.