Ginny Little

Year of Graduation: 
2020
Ginny Little

“It came from asking myself, ‘What can I give to my peers?’”

Naturally quiet, or so she thought, Ginny didn’t always like being around large groups of people. That is, until her proctors in Exeter’s McConnell Hall came along. Their openness and encouragement allowed her to explore aspects of her personality she didn’t know existed before.

Living among nearly 50 other girls her age, the once-shy teenager surprised herself by discovering that she loves to make people laugh. “I think it came from asking myself, ‘What can I give to my peers?’” she says. “A large part of what I do is about alleviating stress. I like to show my friends you can still have fun, even when you’re feeling overwhelmed.”

A day student now (Ginny’s parents moved back to Exeter after relocating to Puerto Rico several years ago), she still spends a lot of time with her friends in McConnell Hall. “Boarding is such an interesting experience to have as a high schooler, during a period of self-discovery when others are exploring too,” she says.

“That down time, where you’re hanging out and getting to know one another away from your families, that’s where growth comes from. In the end, that’s one of the most important things you can do.” 

Taking the taurus by the horn

During those early days in McConnell Hall, Ginny learned she’s not only funny but surprisingly philosophical. Her ruminations have led her to espouse some core beliefs. One — “Make the most of what you’re handed” — helped her realize she’s wild about Latin, despite her initial misgivings. 

“A lot of the other kids in my class had taken Latin I in middle school,” Ginny recalls. “And I started off prep year not knowing the first declension.” Struggling to keep up, she began questioning whether Latin was really for her, but in her determination to succeed, Ginny landed on a few more words to live by: “Even if something in the beginning isn’t for you, you can make it so that it’s yours.”

Ginny did that and more. Last summer, she studied independently so that she could accelerate into Latin 511: Vergil Intensive in the fall. “It was really hard,” she says. “But now that I'm in the class, I’m reading his poetry, and oh my goodness, I love Latin! It’s one of my favorite things to do on campus. ... These ancient authors were able to capture human emotion in a way that I would hope to [do] in my writing, but don't think that I ever could.”

Following her heart

As a literary soul, Ginny conquered her worries about science at Exeter the same way she tamed her Latin fears — with perseverance and pep talks. She’s now passionate about the environment and biology, and she recently took part in a learning trip to Yellowstone National Park.

Led by curiosity and a sense of gratitude for the opportunities afforded her, Ginny has found there’s not much she’s not interested in doing or studying at Exeter. Outside of classes, she’s a member of the JV cross country team, The Exonian staff and Exeter Student Service Organization, and she co-founded ESSO’s Paper Airplanes club last year to help PEA students connect with Syrian refugees. She's also co-head of Catholic Exonians. 

The challenge for Ginny, as with so many Exonians, can be figuring out what activities to let go. Her discernment process involves asking whether the activity is something she loves or could grow to love.

“People fall into the trap of, ‘This is what I need to do because it'll make somebody else happy,’ or ‘This is what I need to do because it'll make me the most money in my job later,’ ” she says. “I tell them what a McConnell proctor once told me: ‘Beyond the actual responsibilities you have to other people, you just need to choose things that make you feel good.’”

In it together

Friendships and family are two of the things that make Ginny happy. She considers her sister Alice ’18 one of her closest friends and earliest teachers.

“I remember the first time I read a ‘real’ book. It was Harry Potter, and my sister promised she would pay me 25 cents if I could read it,” Ginny recalls. The memory of her sister’s ploy makes her laugh. “I was in kindergarten, and I thought a quarter was a lot more money than it actually was,” she adds. Small fortune or no, Ginny eventually made it through all 223 pages of Harry’s earliest wizarding adventures — and thus a bookworm was born.  

Years later, Alice handed her sister a book of Mary Oliver poems and ignited an enduring love for poetry. “It’s still on my bookshelf,” Ginny says. “There are poems you just read over and over again. ... When you read that sentence that strikes a chord in you — and you just sit there for a minute and have to think about it — that's one of my favorite things to experience.”

Last spring, Ginny was named one of the Lamont Younger Poets by the English Department; Alice earned the same honor in 2016. Although the sisters share many interests, Ginny has made sure to find her own way at Exeter.

For this thoughtful young woman who developed a funny bone to help cheer her friends, the transformative power of relationships is what life is all about.  

— Genny Beckman Moriarty

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