Alumna Spotlight: Summer Page, Future Neuroscientist
When it comes to choosing a field of study, many students pursue one area of academia. Usually, they’re either a student with a creative drive for the arts, or they have a more scientific mind, but some people truly break that mold. Summer Page, a Laurel Springs alumna, has a passion and talent for both.
A long-time devotee of ballet, Summer trained for years with hopes of becoming a professional dancer. While attending the Upper School at Laurel Springs, she also developed a passion for the sciences, and she especially became intrigued by neuroscience.
Taking the Leap from Ballet to Science
Beginning at an early age, Summer loved to dance. Throughout elementary and middle school, she trained as a dancer, while also pursuing other activities. At the start of tenth grade, her family relocated to San Francisco, and she knew she wanted to continue pursuing online school at Laurel Springs. The independence and flexibility offered by the flexible, asynchronous format meshed perfectly with her dance training schedule.
While living in San Francisco, Summer became interested in the homeless population she saw around the city. Concerned and curious, she couldn’t let go of the idea that she wanted to help in some way. Short-term fixes were always an option, but she wanted to delve a little deeper. She wondered how the science of the brain contributed to this social condition.
Summer continued to dance and complete her studies, but her interest in the science behind mental health lingered. As she got closer to graduation, a new dilemma revealed itself. Although she still wanted to be a professional dancer, she also dreamed of attending university and studying neuroscience. In a perfect world, Summer would have loved to pursue two career paths, but it became apparent that she was going to have to choose.
“I planned to study neuroscience at some point but always wanted to dance professionally,” Summer recalled. “With ballet, as with many other sports, the ideal time to audition for companies is immediately after finishing training, which usually coincides with high school graduation.” Summer wanted to fully immerse herself in university, as opposed to studying part-time while also dancing. She also knew that if she wanted to give ballet a serious effort, she could not take four years off for university and then audition.
Bridging the Gap
Summer took a gap year after graduating from Laurel Springs. She went on auditions for the dance companies she was most interested in, but while she waited for the results of her auditions, she decided to begin studies at The University of Sydney in Australia. She enthusiastically committed to the study of neuroscience. While this path seems very different from ballet, she credits her experience in dance with giving her the tools to take on this challenging field. “I put the dedication and discipline I learned from ballet towards a new goal, which ended up being medicine.”
She also credits the special skills she learned at Laurel Springs—the independence, the self-advocacy, and the forward thinking—with her collegiate success. “That’s something I realize again and again,” said Summer. “Laurel Springs does a great job with the calendar system and helping the students stay on track, but when you’re at home, it’s ultimately up to you.”
Getting it Down to a Science
After a month at university, Summer learned that she’d received offers from Atlanta Ballet II and Cincinnati Ballet II. Although she still loved to dance, she was also very engaged in her neuroscience studies. After much consideration, she made the decision to stay and continue earning her college degree. Summer said, “I was very much enjoying it and felt fulfilled with what I had experienced and achieved in ballet.”
Now beginning her third year of study, Summer is thriving. She said, “I’ve done dissections and studied parts of the body, and I find it really fascinating how it all fits together. The structure creates a function.”
Summer has many years of fascinating study and work in her future. Plus, the world will have another female surgeon in the neurosurgery profession. According to the organization, Women in Neurosurgery, women represent only 12% of neurosurgery residents. We’re thrilled to see that with Summer Page, that percentage will soon include one more.
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