McKenna Ulbrick is a dance student at the San Francisco Ballet School, where she lives in a dorm, and also a senior at Dwight Global, where she lives the life of the mind.
She’s a top student who knows that this year – her last at Dwight – will define her future. If a top-tier ballet company accepts her, she’ll dance professionally. But if not, she’ll attend college. In that regard, she’s preparing applications now for leading colleges in the U.S. She’ll be content with either path – ballet or university – but is grateful to Dwight Global for giving her the flexibility to pursue both passions. After all, how many teenagers have the chance to attend a major ballet school, she says, while getting a first-rate education at a top-ranked high school?
“I never had to choose between ballet and school,” adds McKenna, “because my teachers at Dwight Global were always so supportive and encouraging. They inspire me to pursue my passions and are committed to my learning. Last year I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to take a class.”
Her Favorite Class
That class, AP U.S. Government and Politics, sparked a new interest in her. Whereas before McKenna preferred the sciences and was on the pre-med track, she’s now considering studying government in college. She’s especially interested in constitutional case work and the Supreme Court. Her friends were amazed that she woke at 5:30 a.m. for class. But her teacher – James Dewitz – was so inspiring that it made rising early a joy.
“I loved Mr. Dewitz’s teaching style,” says McKenna. “He made studying the branches of government and especially Supreme Court decisions so interesting because he showed how many people's lives were affected by those decisions, and gave examples of how governmental actions impact so many people.”
Returning the praise, Mr. Dewitz says McKenna was a pleasure to have in class. The AP class was filled with bright students who gelled and McKenna often led discussions “as if the materials were entertainment for her.”
“She has an aptitude and an interest in political issues,” Mr. Dewitz adds, “and has a keen sense of empathy and a desire to help make the lives of others better.”
Empathy in Action
McKenna believes that young people, her generation, have a responsibility to improve society and help the less fortunate. She recently launched a Go Fund Me campaign to help homeless women. With the donations she receives, she’s assembling care packages for homeless women in San Francisco, where she lives now, and Northern Virginia, where she grew up. The packages are filled with soap, toothpaste, deodorant, and other hygiene products. Her goal is to raise $10,000. So far she’s raised about a third of that.
McKenna’s also using her considerable powers of empathy to help students in Guatemala. She founded the ESL (English as a Second Language) Club at Dwight Global, where members are helping Guatemalan students learn English by tutoring them in weekly Zoom sessions.
Beaming When Helping Others
It gives McKenna pleasure to serve others, a quality that was apparent in her from an early age, says Deborah Ulbrick, McKenna’s mother. Ms. Ulbrick recalls one of McKenna’s preschool teachers telling her that if ever a child sat alone in the classroom, McKenna would go to that child. And now, years later, whenever McKenna tutors the Guatemalan students, she beams with delight, says Ms. Ulbrick.
“I’ve never seen McKenna happier than when she’s helping those students learn English,” she adds. “She really has a good heart.”
Ms. Ulbrick, like her daughter, is a big fan of Dwight Global. Over the last four years, she has seen McKenna develop intellectually and is grateful to Dwight for that. In Ms. Ulbrick’s estimation, Dwight Global has mastered the art of online teaching, with inspiring teachers, a great curriculum, deft use of technology and an administration that takes a deep interest in each student.
“The school’s teachers and staff have a wonderful ability to connect with and challenge students,” says Ms. Ulbrick, who works as Vice President of Sales for Core Engineered Solutions. “Last year, so many schools faltered when switching to online learning, but Dwight Global didn’t miss a beat. It continued on seamlessly. I’ve recommended Dwight Global to so many people and just can’t say enough good things about it.”