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Kimberton Waldorf School alumni enrich the world around them. We are proud to shine a spotlight on some of our alumni to showcase their stories, career development, interests, accomplishments, and milestones.
This month's featured alumni spotlight is Maya Cosentino '04. Read her personal story below.
Dear Friends of Kimberton Waldorf School,
I am writing you from Witten/Herdecke University where I am currently attending medical school. I selected the program here because of the intense, integrative learning process it offers through a small academic community, interdisciplinary course requirements and integrated curriculum for Anthroposophic Medicine.
In this letter, I want to share a vision deeply connected to my experiences and development in Kimberton of a non-profit, rural, life-sharing, intentional community that supports the education and growth of at-risk youth.
During my youth as a staff-child in Camphill Special School Beaver Run, I remember becoming conscious of a strong sense of gratitude for how my home and school were enlivening me and helping me grow. As I gradually got to know the world outside the community, I began to experience how our society’s “everyone for themselves” mindset often isn't sustainable---socially or otherwise. These experiences inspired me to want to create a community for youth facing educational and social challenges that cultivates a sense of belonging and social interdependence as well as environmental consciousness and responsibility.
While studying psychology and neuroscience at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, I had the opportunity to complete an undergraduate thesis project on therapeutic communities for drug dependent adolescents, a project that strengthened my conviction to found a community. Although college opened my eyes to the world of the mind, the brain, and science, it did little to help me understand the interconnectedness of the mind and body. Because I could not imagine effectively supporting the health of individuals without understanding more for example, about existing connections between mental illness and the immune system, I decided to study medicine. Through my studies, I believe I am developing a more comprehensive understanding of the human being that will enable me to be a responsible health practitioner and community member.
The mission of the community I envision is to create a holistic, life-sharing environment in which at-risk youth can grow emotionally and intellectually, and thereby become capable of living in and contributing to society in a sustainable, creative, and constructive way. I want to work with others to create a place where youth can find a home instead of a facility, personal responsibility instead of rigid authority, healing through healthy relationships rather than through psychotropic drugs, and critical, creative thought as opposed to test-centered curricula.
A holistic community lifestyle would be supported by academic and practical knowledge gained through working the land, caring for animals, learning trades, developing artistic abilities, and formal schooling. Small, extended-family house communities and a structured, therapeutic group would provide a framework in which the youth could learn self and group awareness as well as how to constructively communicate their thoughts and feelings.
I imagine an educational setting that aims to teach intellectual, social, and emotional intelligence by incorporating creative and practical learning similar to the Waldorf pedagogy, which I believe greatly supported my own development. Most importantly, I imagine a place that will help youth develop a healthy, constructive form of community “dependence” that enables them to grow into independent world citizens.
A community is always created by a group of people, and I hope that group will form over the coming years. Teachers, health professionals, farmers, carpenters, and most importantly, individuals who are willing to share their lives with others in extended-family houses and the larger community will all be needed.
As I finish medical school and enter residency, I hope to connect with people who wish to help or join in creating a community where youth can sew seeds of good health on a farm, in themselves, and ultimately in the world. If you have ideas you would be willing to share, are interested in contributing to the community’s formation, or could imagine being part of the community, I am excited to hear from you.