After two days of presentations in the school’s auditorium, faculty members selected Olivia Berci (who will be attending Johns Hopkins University in the fall) and Jessica Dusebout (who will matriculate to UC Berkeley) as this year’s recipients of the Top Senior Project Award, as the two travelled together to provide medical assistance to earthquake victims in Haiti.

The aspiring doctors approached Biology teacher Ms. Staci Richard before the school year looking for an advisor to oversee an independent study on public health. They arranged their trip to the poverty-stricken Caribbean nation on their own and embarked nervously in the Spring, finding themselves face-to-face with death and desperation amidst endless tent cities. They helped dole out medications, helped patients try to find medical attention, and provided what comfort they could to children who had no other source of care.

They recorded their meetings with Haitian people in touching fashion on a blog they developed to chronicle their trip.

“We’ve learned to love without limits, even when we’re peed on or have snotty noses snuggled into our necks,”said Berci and Dusebout on their blog. “Our time spent at the clinic has affirmed our shared goal of becoming physicians and of one day returning to places like Haiti to do what, right now, we can’t.”

The other seniors receiving High Honors recognition were Eddie Conk (who will join Dusebout in the fall at UC Berkeley) and Elijah Bittleston (who will begin his plebe summer shortly at the US Naval Academy) for their work creating a website for The Treasure House, a main source of scholarship funds for Music Academy of the West. The two spent countless hours meticulously categorizing inventory, coding a user-friendly site and instructing employees on how to use it moving forward.

Multiple projects have turned into internship and job offers for the coming summer. Other Senior Projects recognized include:

Anastasia Antonova: Internship with Santa Barbara Magazine and C Magazine.

J.T. Aubery: “The Success Principles” internship with world-renowned author Jack Canfield.

Marla Bonser: Personal training and nutrition with Jenny Schatzle.

Chris Burke: Electrical engineering with Porsches at Apex Speed Tech.

Karinna Carrillo: Prenatal and Maternal Health at Cottage Hospital, observing emergency surgeries and lifesaving efforts on premature babies.

Clarissa Coburn: Where’s Waldo project coordination at Granada Books.

Caitlin Connor: International recruitment internship at GSR2R in London.

Helena Davila: Product development and design at Horny Toad Active Wear.

Jeté Dongieux: Instructor at Curtis Studio of Dance.

>Joey Eckert: Event coordination with the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table.

Tess Elder: Internship at Maui and Sons headquarters.

Daria Etezadi: Photojournalism and orphanage service in Tajikistan.

Alex Hawker: Computer programming at Procore Industries.

Chanelle Janssens: Event planning at Crown Weddings in San Diego.

Brian Miguel: Physical therapy at Elite Performance and Rehabilitation.

Brendon Nylen: Housing market analysis at RDN Economic Consulting.

Courtney O’Donnell: Assisting with the Dream Foundation in granting final wishes to the terminally ill.

Justin Palmer: Soft robotics and materials engineering at UCSB.

Bryana Schantz: An internship with Technical Associates Incorporated, studying crime scene investigation and forensic science.

Duke Schnieder: Immunology investigation with Dr. Vincent Tubiolo.

Zoe Serbin: Animation portfolio development at Disney Studios.

Cassidy Shevitz: Superstorm Sandy relief work in New Jersey.

Benji Sorensen: Accounting internship at Koosharem Corporation.

Isabella Taron: Retail internship and store management at Wendy Foster’s Angel.

Kyle Van de Kamer : Photography at Concrete and Clay Productions.

Laguna Blanca NOW—for today’s modern student. Laguna Blanca School is a K-12 co-educational, college preparatory day school. Laguna Blanca School guides students to greater heights by building upon the 80-year tradition of academic excellence with new and innovative teaching methods and programs. With the introduction of the iPad initiative, the global studies program, the new outdoor adventure education program, and the renovation of the library into a state-of-the-art academic research center, the School continues to broaden and enrich our students’ educational experience. For more information, please visit


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