Pedro Coelho

Year of Graduation: 
Pedro Coelho

“That's one of the most noble goals ... embracing this one-of-a-kind education and using it to help others.”

Midway through his prep year, Pedro Coelho already appreciates what it means to be an Exonian, on campus and beyond—well beyond.

“What’s really special about Exeter is that it has this culture of always moving forward,” says Pedro, a native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who first sat at a Harkness table during the 2017 Exeter Summer session. “Exeter teaches you that when you miss your parents, you call them, address that, and then move on. But more than that, Exeter gives you a sense of who you are as a global citizen: both here on campus and in the world.”

Learning to learn

Pedro says that at his school in Rio, students didn’t get to choose their own classes, so when he came to Exeter, he “didn’t know the tips and tricks of course selection.” Yet his choices have proven successful and include Chinese, computer science, religion and pop culture, English, math, and physics. Though most preps don’t enroll in the latter, for Pedro, it has stood out—both in the topics covered and because the course materials were created by Exeter physics faculty. The same is true of his math and Chinese coursework.

The teachers are a huge part of what makes Exeter unique."

“You won't find this level of dedication anywhere else. The teachers, their life is teaching. They’re a huge part of what makes Exeter unique,” says Pedro. At the same time, he says they recognize that Exonians are more than just students, offering personal as well as academic support. For instance, his physics teacher, Tanya Waterman, is known to regularly interrupt her own lessons to survey students to be sure they’ve all eaten breakfast.

Pedro has become a fast fan of Harkness learning. It’s what truly sets Exeter apart, he says.

“Harkness is wonderful in the sense that it’s a skill you learn gradually and you get better at with practice,” he says. “At the beginning you might not be that good at Harkness, but you find out your strengths. Maybe you make really good points, but have trouble knowing the best time to speak; maybe you talk too little, but you’re talented at asking good questions that move the discussion forward. As you go along, you get better at it, which, I think, is the beauty of Harkness. It’s a skill that’s going to be much more useful in your life than being able to write notes really quickly.”

Beyond the classroom

Pedro has plenty keeping him busy after class hours. He lives in Wentworth Hall, the largest boys dorm, where he’s made friends with students in all grade levels. Wentworth’s proximity to the gym is convenient for Pedro, a member of the JV swim team who competes in freestyle and butterfly.

He also takes private clarinet lessons on campus and offers lessons to a local eight-year-old. “It’s wonderful to see his progress, and it’s really cool that I've been able to give him personalized advice in terms of what he can improve on,” says Pedro, who volunteers his clarinet teaching skills through the Exeter Student Service Organization, a student-led group that provides Exonians with a broad range of service opportunities.

Pedro may currently be focused on helping locally, but he’s already got bigger things in mind.

“Now that I'm here, I’m almost in a different world than Rio. But I still get to place myself in the context of coming from Brazil, and one day returning there so I can give back to the community that I’m from,” he says. “I think that's one of the most noble goals an Exeter student can work towards—embracing this one-of-a-kind education and using it to help others. That’s the best thing Exeter gives you: the sense of being here, while also being part of your original community and being able to give back.”

— Sarah Zobel