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Hamza Raddad (’24) would astutely tell you self-reflection and assessment are essential. Asked his advice for first-year high school students, Hamza shares, “Assess why you care about what you do—in school and all your other commitments. What’s the real reason you’re doing them? How important are they? Assessing life goals sounds pretty heavy, but I think most people can surprise themselves with how in tune they are with what they really want.”

Self-awareness and personal growth are deeply ingrained traits for Hamza. “I’ve noticed that a lot of unhappiness and discontentment in people’s lives tends to come from a lack of introspection. We can go on autopilot and do things we are used to or think will make us happy. This inevitably leads to doing things we don’t care about or chasing the wrong things. I feel introspection and philosophy have made me live a more focused, direct, and happy life.”

If you talk with Hamza, this philosophical approach is evident in everything he says. For example, he reluctantly came to University for his sophomore year. He recognizes that, at the time, leaving behind the familiarity of his previous, much larger school was uncomfortable. But with the knowledge he now possesses, he would have enthusiastically chosen University. “The opportunity for meaningful connections and fostering real intellectual curiosity are much greater here. This place rekindled my love of learning.”

He emphasizes the importance of connection at University. “Because the school is on the smaller side, you can have a sense of community.” This feeling extends beyond peers. “I don’t think there’s a teacher here who hasn’t had a profound impact on me.” He cites his French classes and a literature class with Dr. Spiegel as examples of teaching that has broadened his perspectives. “Dr. Spiegel definitely opened my mind to many new ways of thinking.”

Hamza’s love of philosophy is also fostered outside of the classroom. “Dr. Brandon Hogan, who minored in philosophy years back, tolerated me when I would incessantly—every day during flex last year—come into his office and pester him about some grandiose idea I was dealing with. I definitely want to thank him. And I am thankful for my mentor, Madame Swann, with whom I’ve also had similar eye-opening conversations.”

Reflecting on why people should care about University High School, Hamza says, “Places like University that foster community and intellectual curiosity need to be empowered.”

Hamza plans to attend Indiana University–Bloomington in the fall to study cognitive science.