Lila Balistrieri, Class of 2018

Lila Balistrieri, Class of 2018, joined the Ellis Upper School community in tenth grade and can still remember the outpouring of love that greeted her on her first day. Excited to discover her own passions outside the classroom, Lila soon found herself to be an active member of her class as she performed in dramatic and comedic plays, acted as a Student Council representative, and founded the Ellis Self Defense Club. Next year, Lila will study microbiology and epidemiology at the University of Rochester where she has been named a Handler Scholar.
What is special about your experience at an all-girls school like Ellis?
My experience at an all-girls high school has been extremely beneficial for me. Coming from a coed public high school, I was a very shy ninth grader. But a few weeks into tenth grade at Ellis, I found myself getting in trouble for talking too much in class! I began to love participating and presenting in front of other students. I fully believe it is because Ellis establishes an environment of comfort and respect. My voice was heard and valued, and I made friends who quickly became family.

How has your Ellis education has prepared you for your next chapter?
My Ellis education has prepared me tremendously for the next chapter of my life by pushing my limits of learning and offering me educational opportunities of a lifetime. Ellis has constructed my sense of self, built my character, and inspired me to become not A woman leader but THE woman leader. The teachers are more than willing to help students, yet always propose a challenge to make sure we are one step ahead. There is a huge support system at Ellis, and someone always there to push forward and embrace any of your unique ideas.

With such freedom and curiosity on campus, Ellis girls are also able to pursue any talents that they have, while getting a wide range of curriculum. In addition to all of these resources, my Ellis education has also prepared me for real-life experiences beyond the classroom..

What is your favorite Ellis tradition?
My favorite Ellis tradition is probably senior brunch. It made me realize how much Ellis appreciates its students and their growth in our community. The celebration was a very emotional time for seniors with friends, family, and our little sisters. It made me “happy” sad—and excited for the next step of graduation.

What will you miss most about Ellis when you graduate?
I will miss the homelike feeling I get walking down the hallways, and the same big smiles I am greeted with every morning. There is no way to describe it. Ellis really does feel like my second home, and somewhere I am completely comfortable.

What do you think are the stereotypes that you encounter or avoid by attending Ellis?
By attending Ellis, I believe I avoid the stereotype of looking like a “teacher’s pet” or “a girl trying too hard.” Ellis’s education system is designed to give girls every learning opportunity possible, whereas in other schools, girls who are eager to learn are sometimes frowned upon.

Fill in the blank: “I will always remember…”
Everyone hugging me and wanting to take pictures with me on my first day at Ellis. I wasn’t expecting so much love.

What is your best Ellis memory?
My favorite Ellis memory was playing in a kickball tournament against other advisee groups and teachers last year. The whole school was cheering, music was playing loudly, and I had a smile on my face from ear-to-ear! Even though I’m almost an adult now, it was nice to have an event at Ellis that let me feel like a kid again. It was so much FUN. Definitely one of those moments where you feel like this is the place you were meant to be at.

What are you involved with outside of Ellis?
Outside of Ellis, I’ve been a dedicated cashier at Labriola’s Italian Store for four years now. I’m also a part time intern for Deer Lakes Medical Associates, and have been receiving great insight into the medical profession by participating in experiential learning and research. I have also enjoyed other academic programs outside of Ellis, such as The Perry Outreach Program, where I was able to study biomechanics and perform mock-orthopedic surgery led by women professionals in the field.

If you had to write a graduation speech about what has been meaningful about your Ellis experience, what would you choose to write about?
I would choose to write about the sincere relationships I’ve made with others through my Ellis experience. I have been introduced to a diverse group of people, who are all here for one reason: they love Ellis. I cherish the memories I’ve made with everyone, and I would want to share them in my graduation speech. Even after graduation, I know the connections I’ve made within the Ellis community will not be lost.

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Amiable. Persistent. Cheerful.
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