A Google search will tell you that Sirius is the brightest star in Earth's night sky. Hunter Holland is also pretty bright and serious - a serious student, musician and thespian, and he is also a seriously amazing guy people can always count on - which earned him the title of Outstanding Senior of the Class of 2018. This lover of outer space says he is “passionate about mathematics and the physical sciences.” He is excited to major in astrophysics at Columbia University in New York City next year.
“I guess the first time I thought space was cool was fourth or fifth grade. I did a camp at The Science Center of Pinellas, and everyone made fun of me for liking the stuff they were talking to us about. I figured, ‘If that’s what you’re going to make fun of me for, I’m totally fine with that.’”
Hunter came to Shorecrest in Middle School when his old school closed. He looks back on Ms. Kelly’s sixth grade math class as the beginning of his interest in math. “That was really the first time I became intellectually curious. Then in ninth grade I took Mr. Nap’s Honors Physics, and that was when I began to think that science was pretty awesome too. Physics is learning about science and space in a more technical way and I enjoyed that a lot.”
Hunter planned to apply to 10 colleges and universities but was accepted early decision to Columbia University before he had submitted most of his applications. “The embodiment of my senior year was ‘theatre' and 'getting into college.' Second semester has been entirely theatre, every single day, but first semester was all about getting into college. The application process dominated all of my time. Ms. Klement was my college counselor, and she was absolutely fantastic. She gave the best advice; I think she sort of got the sense that I knew what I wanted.”
That may sound confident, but leaving Florida behind for a prestigious university in the middle of Manhattan can seem daunting. When asked if he had any butterflies, Hunter said, “I toured Columbia in July before my senior year. That was the first time I had ever been to New York. Columbia is in the Morningside Heights area, which is very quiet compared to Downtown. Our hotel was near Downtown with the hustle and bustle of the city, and we took the subway up to campus. We got off the subway, walked through the gates of the University, and it was just silence and birds. It was just the most magical experience. My dad and I looked at each other and we just said, ‘Wow. This is beautiful.’”