Samantha Gray12th Grade
Serendipity means “pleasant surprise,” but it’s also the name of the sailboat where Samantha Gray lives. In many ways, Samantha’s life is one of pleasant surprises, as she has built a life of almost constant discovery.
With a few land-based breaks each year to visit family, Samantha has spent her entire life living on a sailboat with her parents, spending most of the time exploring the Caribbean. “There is so much to learn,” Samantha said, “This lifestyle is an amazing cultural and environmental experience. It has opened me up to many possibilities and opportunities. I tie them all together into my life.”
Samantha “boat-schooled” initially with a K-8 distance learning curriculum, and in 9th grade her family discovered Laurel Springs. “I welcomed that I could keep my flexibility, pursue a college prep program, and continue my extra-curricular interests.” She is involved in National Honor Society and the Creative Writing and Poetry club at Laurel Springs, and likes “having friends who share common interests or classes.”
Samantha’s extra-curricular interests fit perfectly with a life immersed in the natural world; she loves to scuba dive and explore coral reefs. “I like to keep my hobbies close and translate them into jobs and internships.” She has worked cleaning boat bottoms, dived at a resort that provides dolphin encounters, and volunteered for organizations that perform coral reef monitoring. “I was involved in data collection, so I took surveys of what I saw during my dives in various places. It’s critical for conservation purposes that we track biodiversity.” Samantha was recently awarded the Master Scuba Diver rating by the Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI), which is the highest level of achievement for amateur divers. She also holds specialty certifications in drift, wreck and enriched air (NITROX) diving, fish identification, underwater naturalist (from National Geographic), and last summer attended University of North Carolina’s MarineQuestprogram in digital underwater photography.
Samantha’s teachers find that her work is “always thoughtful, thorough, and incredibly enlightening. She always finds a way to look at universal ideas and themes in a unique way. She has a broad perspective and understanding of the world.” As a senior, Samantha is preparing her college applications, and hopes to study linguistics and cognitive science. When asked if she would find it difficult to adjust to a life on land when she leaves Serendipity for a college dorm room, she said, “it will be a change…but I’m used to change…and a dorm room will seem huge compared to where I live now!”