Meet the UChicago Class of 2027

8 first-year undergraduates share their backstories, passions and paths

As the Class of 2027 joins the University of Chicago community, eight first-year students in the College discuss their academic interests, personal goals and what brought them to Hyde Park. 

Tobi Akenroye

Tobi Akenroye runs his own custom shoe painting business, and now that he’s at UChicago, he plans to dive deeper into the business world by studying business and economics.  

“I often wondered what influenced how people attribute value to different things as well as the inner workings of capitalism itself,” he said. “Career-wise, I desire to break into finance, a field in which UChicago is very well-represented.” 

Akenroye, from the Dallas suburb of Southlake, Tex., is also looking forward to taking classes outside of his major, saying that he was drawn to UChicago due to the university’s innovative approach to teaching and learning.  

In particular, he hopes to take Greek courses to develop his long-standing interest in Greek mythology.  

“Intellectual curiosity is an attribute I consider to be very instrumental in building one’s character and I believe that it is fostered here,” he said. 

Outside of the classroom, Akenroye is grateful to continue his main sport, wrestling, at the varsity level, and wants to participate in UChicago traditions including Scav and Kuvia. He also involves himself in Judo, BJJ, as well as bouldering, and was co-founder of a Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston nonprofit that promotes artistic self-expression in underserved communities.

When he’s not busy with sports or organizing, he also devotes himself to music – he plays both the piano and the guitar.  

Trinity Bledsoe

Trinity Bledsoe credits much of her early commitment to education to the influence of her mother.

“I was raised by a strong-willed single mother who sacrificed her entire life in order to see me succeed, so in my early education I focused a lot on just making the grades I needed to get to the next step,” Bledsoe said. “When I stopped thinking about grades, however, I truly fell in love with the idea of education and always yearned to know more.”

At UChicago, Bledsoe hopes to major in Law, Letters, and Society or political science. She is interested in studying the Constitution, in particular how it affects the criminal justice system and minority groups in the United States.

Bledsoe, a member of UChicago’s track team and a former Miss America competitor, also hopes to pursue her passion for the arts. She grew up in Columbus, Ga., and says her fondest memory growing up was seeing shows at the Springer and RiverCenter, their local performing arts spaces.

“I’m borderline obsessed with anything Broadway, so don’t be surprised if I break out randomly in song and dance,” Bledsoe said.

In Chicago, Bledsoe is excited to continue drawing and writing poetry, as well as checking out all of the live entertainment the city has to offer. 

Sydney Dorvil 

Sydney Dorvil discovered her love for computer science when her parents signed her up for a Girls Code program at age 12.

Just a year later, she received an award for an app idea she devised that geotags Native American landmarks to “help bring awareness to the spaces that we all use, and the lands that have been taken.”

“I always thought it was important to acknowledge our history as Americans, and how that affects different races and ethnicities, especially coming from a mixed-race family,” Dorvil said. 

Dorvil is excited to pursue this interest at UChicago through courses covering machine learning. She said she is looking forward to learning more about the ways in which human-computer interactions can lead to world-altering advancements in ethical production.

“I wanted to go to UChicago for many reasons, but I found their approach to interdisciplinary learning to be inspiring and exquisite,” she said. “I want to know the effects of the technology that I create, and what that means in a broader context for how we see the world.”

Dorvil is also excited for opportunities outside of the classroom, in particular throwing discus for the track and field team. She is a seasoned athlete, having spent 15 years of her life as a figure skater and competing for Team USA’s synchronized skating team during the 2022 season. 

Laura Elnairab 

Raised in El Paso, Texas, Laura Elnairab fell in love with computer programming after taking a high school course on the subject.

“You can really create almost anything you put your heart to with technology,” she said. She sees no limits when it comes to programming and intends to explore everything from computational neuroscience to quantum computing as a student in the College 

Elnairab is a QuestBridge Scholar and said she plans to take advantage of all UChicago offers. She is interested in the Weston Game Lab and the 4+1 Master’s Program in computer science.  

Her vision for the future is clear: 

“I want games I create to not only be entertaining but also educating,” she said. “I hope to one day create a tech company that strives to bring diversity and representation in the computer science field.” 

Beyond programming, Elnairab launched an in-person tutoring program at her high school in an effort to help students who fell behind during COVID-19’s remote learning period, and wants to continue tutoring at UChicago. She loves going outside when she’s not behind the screen and is an avid card game player.  

“I like showing my friends games they likely didn’t learn before and seeing their expressions while the game intensifies,” she said. “If you ever want to chill and play some card games, I can always show you the ones I know!” 

Alex Fuentes

Alex Fuentes grew up in Silver Spring, Md., just 30 minutes outside of Washington, D.C. 

He chose UChicago for three distinct reasons. In his own words:

“1.) The proximity to the city offers great access to civic engagement. 2.) The school offers robust support systems for first-generation students to succeed. 3.) Every UChicago student is distinctly from UChicago. Whether they have a quirky passion or a unique upbringing, they belong,” he said. 

Fuentes, whose parents immigrated from El Salvador, said he plans to spend his years in the College working to understand the United States’ political and economic systems. 

He aspires to work within University Student Government to improve the quality of life for all UChicago students and continue his work within Hispanic advocacy organizations, as well. 

Outside of his academic and policy interests, Fuentes loves to listen to music, and last year listened to one album every day. He is especially looking forward to the Summer Breeze music festival in the spring, and has made it a goal to explore as much music as he can over the academic year. 

Truly, he said, he enjoys any activity where he can learn and engage with people.

“There are 1,800 of us in the class of 2027, and I hope to meet as many of you as possible,” he said. “I’m always searching for new experiences and understanding new perspectives, so I hope my endless energy isn’t too terrifying.”

Kublai Kolb

Kublai Kolb, from Washington, D.C., began beekeeping after he helped put honey bee hives on his school roof with his high school’s Green Club. Having now taken an after-school university course and received certification, beekeeping is one of his main hobbies.

However, that isn’t the only way that Kolb connects with nature. He also kayaks on the Potomac River and started whitewater kayaking during the pandemic because of the freedom and power of the water. Kolb knows firsthand how powerful the river can be – once, he snapped a paddle and survived foot entrapment (when a swimmer is dangerously caught in a fast current). 

“I gained a new appreciation for the opportunities I had been provided and my paddling buddies who pulled me out,” he said. 

Kolb applied to UChicago because of the rigorous academics and Core Curriculum.  

“I hope to major in history or poli sci and, with my fluency in Chinese, ultimately build a career in diplomacy,” he said.  

He enjoys learning about the origins of people around him, a fascination influenced by his own bicultural household. 

Elizabeth Pacheco

Elizabeth Pacheco was first drawn to UChicago after participating in the Pathways in Molecular Engineering summer course as a rising high school senior, supported by the Neubauer Family Adelante program

Originally from the South Side of Chicago, she met students from all around the world and said she realized that the university in her backyard was more than just an assembly of beautiful buildings. 

“Such a culturally diverse place fosters imaginative thinking, which I could envision myself thriving in more and more,” she said. 

She hopes to major in biological sciences in the College, on the pre-med track. Having grown up watching her mother and grandmother endure multiple sclerosis and dialysis, respectively, she is curious to learn more about illnesses and discover helpful solutions for those who suffer from them. 

In high school, Pacheco played the saxophone in the marching band, and once traveled to Ireland to perform in St. Patrick’s Day parades in Galway, Dublin and Kilkenny. She plans to continue to play music in one of the many ensembles UChicago has to offer. 

She also taught saxophone lessons to elementary students and volunteered in organizations like Help Build Hope, and looks forward to finding more community service opportunities near campus, such as the Neighborhood Schools Program

As for the rest of the school year, she said she is looking forward to working towards becoming the best version of herself. 

“I am excited to watch the green ivy vines on campus transform throughout the seasons, going to concerts and exploring jazz events in Chicago with newfound friends,” she said. “I am always willing to grab boba if anyone is ever interested in taking a trip to Chinatown!”

Brady Santoro

Brady Santoro, like many UChicago students, came to the College for critical inquiry and an intellectual challenge. 

He developed this passion through his personal study of religious law and theology, which he describes as “less a set of dictums and more a collection of granular philosophical arguments.”

“This crash course in critical thinking and introspection certainly pointed me towards philosophy and a school that never seems to stop thinking,” Santoro said.

Though Santoro hopes to major in philosophy, his other interests and hobbies are wide-ranging. In his hometown of Philadelphia, Santoro was very entrenched in his community. Among other ventures, he ran a book club, his school’s literary magazine and a bi-weekly scrabble/philosophy club. He was also the clerk of his local election board, a neighborhood community secretary, and during the pandemic, he picked up another volunteer side-gig:

“I ran a crossword service where I would create crosswords and hand-deliver them all over the city just to get outside,” he said.

In addition to his community involvement, Santoro also loves playing music on any of the 16 instruments he knows how to play. He has been involved with a Shape Note singing group, an old-world Jewish dance band, and several jazz bands. He also writes music and is currently working on a commission for harp and marimba.

Santoro is excited for the opportunity to play jazz on campus, participate in the Smart Museum’s Art to Live With program, and one day play the pipe organ at Rockefeller. 

This story was adapted from the UChicago College website