“Highlands Taught Me to Think Critically” - Alumni Spotlight with UAB Pre-Med Student, Daniel Elston ‘15
Daniel Elston, Highlands class of 2015, took a few minutes to share an update on his life and the impact Highlands had on his academic career.
Give us an update on your life! Where are you and what are you up to?
Currently, I am at The University of Alabama at Birmingham as part of their Early Medical School Acceptance Program. This program guarantees me acceptance into the UAB School of Medicine provided I meet certain academic prerequisites during my undergraduate years. Because of this guaranteed spot, I am pursuing many of the interests I have outside of medicine like philosophy.
How did Highlands prepare you for your journey after your 8th-grade graduation?
Highlands allowed me to reach the place I am today primarily by fostering a strong work ethic within me even as just a middle schooler. I was encouraged and pushed to do well in the classroom and the low student to teacher ratio meant that my needs as an individual student could be met. If I ever lagged behind in any way, I could be singled out and talked to very quickly.
On top of this, Highlands also taught me how to think critically at a high level for my age. Writing about my own thoughts on different issues in class helped me to start forming my own opinions and ideas about the world around me which is exactly what my teachers wanted to see me do. This is a skill I utilize even now and is something that has without a doubt improved my academic as well as personal life.
Why did you choose to stay at Highlands through middle school?
The main reason I stayed through middle school was the community I had around me. I was with peers that I had known for a majority of my life and who I felt actually knew me as a person. Along with this, the teachers and other staff members were a group of people who I knew would always support me and I did not want to leave them either of these groups behind.
What is the most important thing you learned while at Highlands?
By far the most important lesson I learned was to think about and research issues about the world on my own despite what anyone tells me. I very vividly remember one of my middle school humanities teachers telling me not to passively accept whatever anyone (even him) tells me about the world whether it be about politics, science or some other facet of life.
What words of wisdom do you have for students considering middle school at Highlands?
Highlands has a great community and numerous resources for student success. It is truly a special environment and I would hate for them to miss out on the full experience because it is not something you will find replicated anywhere else.
Describe Highlands in three words:
Peaceful, encouraging, and unique
Share your favorite Highlands memory:
My favorite Highlands memory is having annual leaf fights on the playground with my friends every time fall reached campus.