Meet Dustin Anderson '22! Dustin is an honor roll student, prefect, MADFest winner, dancer, and was one of the leads in this year's musical, "Legally Blonde". He is a day student from Hiawassee, GA and has attended Rabun Gap for the past seven years.
Why did you choose to attend Rabun Gap?
I decided to attend Rabun Gap beginning in my 6th grade year due to its unique interdisciplinary education. I was raised in the outskirts of North Georgia, a community that can easily shelter kids from the beauty of a prejudice-free, global environment. However, at Rabun Gap, I find it astonishing to be able to pursue any and all academic or extracurricular endeavors that I desire alongside people from, quite literally, everywhere.
What makes Rabun Gap special to you?
Since I have essentially grown up through the guidance of Rabun Gap, I hold many aspects of the school close to my heart. Of course, on the surface, one could say that facets such as the cirque program or the sheer amount of countries represented in the student body are qualities special to Rabun Gap. While this is true, what I find special is the unity that’s been built between the students and faculty. I could take any concern I have regarding myself or others to Rabun Gap and there will always be a person there to show support and/or relate. I feel very understood and safe here.
Tell us about a time at Rabun Gap where you’ve had to stretch beyond your comfort zone.
This year, my class and I went on the annual Rabun Gap senior trip into the woods with no cell service or A/C. Prior to departure, this trip both excited and daunted me as living in the wilderness, having randomly assigned dorms, and engaging in (potentially dangerous) outdoor activities came with its set of perks and concerns. However, the experience was vital to the unity that I previously mentioned. It brought me closer to so many people with whom I had yet to interact. This experience gave me new perspectives; one of less concern for judgement and one of more courage to confidently socialize.
What is your favorite memory from Rabun Gap?
Honestly, the senior trip that I just mentioned has got to be one of my favorite memories at Rabun Gap. This goes to show the value that experiences where one stretches their comfort zone can hold in the long run. I truly enjoyed the trip, not only for the connections I made, but also for the days we spent on the lake: going down slides, swimming, and pushing each other off of huge inflatables.
What are your extracurriculars and what do you like most about them?
My extracurriculars consist of a mix of leadership, arts, and athletics. I’m the Co-President of two clubs, a prefect, and the Secretary of the student body. These positions alone motivate me in all aspects of my scholastic and personal life. I also engage in a lot of artistic activities such as cirque, musical theater, and, of course, dance. With dance specifically, I’ve really relied on it during my most stressful times as a source of both physical and mental exercise. I’ve also been a member of varsity track & field and soccer, both of which have put me in the best shape of my life.
How has being a part of the arts helped you find your voice?
Before I came to Rabun Gap, I grew up thinking it was not socially acceptable to be a male dancer. Part of the reason I decided to attend Rabun Gap was because of its acceptance of this passion of mine. I’ve since allowed myself to grow into the person I am today through Rabun Gap’s dance program. I truly thank Rabun Gap for its encouragement and support of my interest in dancing as it has motivated me to become a better person overall.
What is your favorite class and why?
My favorite class I’ve ever taken has got to be Mr. Nowack’s AP Language & Composition class in Junior year. This class taught me the plethora of essential writing and communication skills needed for collegiate study. Mr. Nowack provided not only an academically rigorous space for learning, but also an emotionally supportive environment where I felt comfortable to ask questions and collaborate with my peers. I’ll take what he taught me for years to come.
Which Rabun Gap teachers and/or coaches have had the biggest impact on you during your time here?
Alongside Mr. Nowack, I believe that Mrs. Heidi has had the biggest impact on me. She has been my dance and theater instructor for the entirety of my time at Rabun Gap and I find her creativity and work ethic incredibly inspiring. She really puts her all, similarly to Mr. Nowack, into creating an open space for emotional and educational discussion that I find essential to all scholastic success.
What advice would you give another student who is interested in attending Rabun Gap?
I would say to not be afraid of judgment. Don’t fear being who you truly are because there are so many people here to believe in you and lift you up. Don’t be afraid to try new things. There are so many unique opportunities and people here, so don’t miss out. Have faith in your ability to succeed and I promise that success will come.
Which interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?
In my free time, I research the modern music industry. Have you ever been in the car and heard the same song every three songs? That’s not necessarily because said song is popular, but rather because that artist and their label have pulled some strings behind the scenes, whether it be ethically acceptable or not, in order to ensure that this happens. This, alongside chart manipulation and artist discrimination, have driven me and my artistic interests to desire a career in the music industry and fix ethical dilemmas within this sector of global entertainment.