KG Buckham-White

Year of Graduation: 

"I have found my voice here."

A year before Kathryn Gabriella “KG” Buckham-White applied to Exeter, she and her family traveled from their home in Atlanta to visit campus. “We sat in on Mr. Weatherspoon’s existentialism class,” the upper recalls. “I just felt so engaged. I loved the way Harkness encouraged conversation-based learning. From that moment on I said, ‘I’m coming here!’”

Buckham-White’s parents were supportive of their daughter’s ambition but were concerned they could not afford boarding school tuition. Undeterred, Buckham-White applied. Her efforts were rewarded with a Robert Saltonstall Memorial Scholarship, one of 517 endowed financial aid funds providing critical support for qualified students. “When we opened the acceptance letter, my parents were shocked to see our grant,” she remembers. “Exeter’s financial aid program has been a blessing.”

Over the past three years, Buckham-White has explored her myriad interests at Exeter “almost boundlessly,” she says. She is an active member of the Exeter Student Service Organization, a vocalist in the a cappella group Sans Hommes and a varsity athlete. “KG makes everything look easy, but I know that’s because she is quietly working very hard behind the scenes,” says Science Instructor and dorm adviser Jeanette Saraidaridis Lovett. “She is a model Exonian: hardworking, caring and inclusive.”

Girls volleyball coach and Physical Education Instructor Bruce Shang agrees. “KG was just named a captain of the team as an upper, which is very rare,” he says. “It is because she has demonstrated great leadership on and off the court.”

In Lamont Hall, where Buckham-White is a proctor, she is known for her ever-present smile more than her spikes. “Her dormmates uniformly praise her kindness and unanimously supported her proctor application,” Lovett says. Buckham-White finds the proctor role one of the most rewarding on campus: “It’s important for me to connect with the younger students, make sure they’re doing okay, offer homework help and personal help.”

Academically, she has challenged herself as well. A French student since first grade, Buckham-White is now conversationally fluent. “The fact that Exeter's French classes are conversation-based has helped with my fluency,” she says. “I also have a lot of friends who speak French, so I have the opportunity to engage in that way. That’s not something that I had the opportunity to do before coming to Exeter.”

In math, she has learned to be a more independent thinker. “The way Exeter teaches math has pushed me to push myself and truly understand the material,” she says. “I’m not memorizing a formula from the textbook; I have to find the formula instead. That has allowed me to have a deeper understanding and a better ability to problem solve. That kind of independent thought has served me well outside of Exeter. I never thought that a math class could do that for me, but it’s been really valuable.”

Buckham-White names Faith and Doubt as one of her most transformative courses. “I came from a Christian school, so everything we learned was very one-perspective,” she says. “It’s been eye-opening to take a religion class in which every kind of perspective is appreciated and discussed. … In Faith and Doubt there were kids who came from all different types of faith and some who didn’t identify with a specific religion at all. That conversation of what faith means to each individual person — what faith means to me — has been really cool.”

In the end, she says: “All of the values that have been instilled in me as an Exeter student — non sibi, independent and critical thinking, collaboration — have served me well and I’ve done so much maturing since coming here. I’ve changed in how I operate as a student, as a person, as an athlete. …The real thing that I’ll take away from Exeter is confidence with myself and who I am as a person. I have found my voice here.”

— Jennifer Wagner