High school student chosen for Ivy League leadership program

May 23, 2023

Wareham High School junior Gisella Priestley has been given a full scholarship to attend the Telluride Association Summer Seminar at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York from June 25 to August 5. 

Less than five percent of students who apply are accepted into the international program, which prepares “promising young students” for democratic leadership and community building. 

“These values are important to me,” Priestley said, “as there are countless incidents of injustice happening, specifically against minorities, that are systematically and purposely ignored.”

Priestley is especially interested in issues facing African Americans, Native Americans and undocumented immigrants, being the child of an immigrant herself.

If we continue to lack justice,” she said, “we will only go deaf from all the screaming for it.”

Each day, students in the seminar will take a three-hour-long college-level class in which they will hear lectures, take part in group projects, read books, watch movies and write essays. The classes will focus on the legal and historical roots of societal problems, and explore possible solutions.

Priestley is excited to learn more about the world and global social movements, not just from textbooks but from art and music.

Outside of class, students will work together to plan activities, learning cooperation. They will also participate in a public speaking program. 

“We must find a way to actively listen to each other,” Priestley said. “Even if we cannot agree, if we can acknowledge each other’s viewpoints and continue to dissect and discuss... we will become better humans for it.”

When Priestley was a little girl, she wanted to be president. Now, she isn’t sure what she wants to do, but she would like to work in criminal justice, law, policy and/or social sciences. She hopes the seminar will help her achieve that goal. 

“I plan to use this information as the guiding force for the rest of my life,” she said.