Class of 2024 finds inspiration under unique circumstances

First-year students share their passions and what led them to UChicago

As the Class of 2024 experiences the University of Chicago in a year unlike any other, five incoming students share their diverse personal stories and what drew them to UChicago.

Finding inspiration in family roots

Sheila Tume first discovered UChicago in Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming, which detailed, in part, the years she spent in Hyde Park before becoming First Lady.

“All of the puzzle pieces seemed to fit together magnificently,” Tume said. “Being in a diverse city with amazing people and food, compounded with the exposure to several academic research opportunities, was the dream.”

Before coming to UChicago, the Dallas native also planned theological conferences as a member of several leadership councils and youth groups within the Presbyterian and Cumberland Presbyterian denominations.

The daughter of Cameroonian immigrants, Tume has always felt close to her family’s roots, and hopes to spend the next four years learning more about the role Christianity has played in Africa.

She also plans to pursue a major in public policy or environmental and urban studies, and get involved the Institute of Politics and other programs that make an impact on neighboring communities.

“I want to graduate from UChicago with an understanding of the space that I’ve occupied for four years and what my presence means for Chicagoans outside of Hyde Park,” said Tume, a UChicago Odyssey Scholar. “I’m hoping to establish this understanding through different community engagement opportunities, go to in-person cultural shows and events, and possibly study abroad in an African country.”

Developing prose through research

Even before she arrived at UChicago, Lauren Kingsly was already a published author.

In 2019, Kingsly released Tickled Imagination: A teenager’s reality living with undiagnosed Lyme Disease, a book focusing on her struggles navigating the health care system after falling ill during her sophomore year of high school. Inspired by her own experience with chronic illness, Kingsly hopes to join a psychology lab at UChicago and pursue research in understanding the cognitive and emotional components of hallucinations and long-term trauma.

Kingsly said the distinguished psychology faculty is what drew her to UChicago, as well as the school’s emphasis on the Core curriculum and diverse student body.

“I’ve already started reaching out to several labs within the Department of Psychology,” Kingsly said. “Above all, I’m excited to explore various disciplines through the Core, and through this, have my thought process challenged.”

In addition to writing a second book for publication with a faculty author, Kingsly plans to join a variety of on-campus organizations—including the Peer Health Exchange, MODA Magazine, UROCK Climbing Club and University Theater.

Embracing the unexpected

An accomplished musician, avid trivia consumer and news writer, Michael McClure searched for a college that would allow him to pursue his varied interests.  

“UChicago was the only school that offered everything I was looking for: the right combination of majors and minors, a high-level yet relaxed music program, the opportunity to be in a city and supplemental essays that made me smile,” McClure said.

At a young age, McClure grew up in an entirely bilingual environment, enrolling in two schools—one in the U.S., his dad’s home country, and one in his mother’s hometown in Hungary. During the school year, he alternated between the each of the schools while completing coursework for the other from a distance, making him no stranger to remote learning.

This quarter, McClure is attending classes remotely from his home in Buffalo, New York.

Outside of classes, McClure enjoys perusing Google Maps, learning trivia facts and reading and editing Wikipedia articles. He has also contributed to the Chicago Maroon student newspaper. As a classically trained pianist, McClure is passionate about sight reading new music and finding ways to collaborate with other musicians in an online setting.

“I’m lucky to be part of UChicago’s incredible educational environment,” said McClure. “I’m most excited to meet and learn from my fellow students, especially when I get to campus, and to immerse myself in RSOs and programs that I hope can provide me with priceless experiences and opportunities for the future.”

A wealth of disciplines

Although Josette Huang grew up in Honolulu, she also calls Barcelona home, having spent her summers in the city developing a passion for tennis at a young age.

“I competed at all levels—local, state, national, international—in both piano and tennis, and I hope to continue fostering these passions of mine at UChicago,” Huang said.

Huang is currently a representative of Distinguished Young Women of Hawaii, formerly known as America’s Junior Miss Hawaii. The program awards national scholarships to promote education, leadership and talent in young women.

“Becoming a state-recognized role model for young women all around the nation has made me realize and begin to actualize my purpose,” said Huang.

At UChicago, Huang hopes to pursue her interests in language learning and to engage the UChicago and Hyde Park community through volunteer work.

“I decided to come to UChicago not only because of the academic challenge, but also to meet and befriend people like myself, to explore the rich culture and art scene in Chicago, as well as to play for the University’s varsity tennis team,” said Huang. “I hope my undergraduate studies prepare me well for a future career as a victim advocate.”

Spreading positivity during the pandemic

Emilio Rosas Linhard was drawn to UChicago when he visited as a member of the Neubauer Family Adelante summer program, a program that brings talented rising high school seniors to campus to get an early taste of the college experience.

But although he soon realized that UChicago was “the perfect fit,” Rosas Linhard wasn’t sure what he wanted to study—until he listened to Prof. David Awschalom discuss the future of the quantum internet on the Big Brains podcast.

“The episode opened my eyes to a technology with colossal potential in the coming years that may be especially relevant in Chicago,” Rosas Linhard said.

He now hopes to join RSOs that will foster his appreciation for STEM fields and interest in playing music, and attend talks and events hosted by influential experts, writers and researchers.

While attending high school in the St. Louis area, Rosas Linhard was an active member of the cross country and track teams and the speech and debate programs. Living at home during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he also nurtured a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit.

“I spent last summer making and selling pizzas out of my kitchen,” he said. “Pizza is my favorite food of all time, and I would like to cook pizzas as soon as I live somewhere with a kitchen again.”

—This story also appears on the UChicago College website.