Senior Showcase: Passion for politics inspires WHHS grads
Senior Showcase: Passion for politics inspires WHHS grads
Posted on 07/28/2016
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WEST HAVEN, July 26, 2016 — If you’ve had anything to do with West Haven High School over the past four years, chances are you’ve already been acquainted with Class of 2016 grads Susannah “Susie” Beyl and Delaruelle “Dela” Tarpeh. And before you know it, you’ll probably be saying, “I knew them when…”

From school dances and clubs, to student and local government and political campaigns, and from community service to Greater New Haven programs, these two did it all during their years with WHHS.

Now, Tarpeh, a political science major, is headed for the University of Connecticut aiming for an eventual run for Congress, while Beyl, a prospective global affairs major, will attend Yale University and has her eye on a career with the United Nations.

Before you see Tarpeh on an election ballot, she’ll be working on degrees in political science, American Sign Language and law, with the goal of later becoming a lawyer. The sign language interest stems from a friendship with someone whose cousin was deaf and from meeting a lobbyist for people with disabilities.

But she’s most excited to carve out a path toward politics.

“I love Congress,” she gushed. “I’ve always really liked politics. My dad and I have always gotten into debates. Then I took AP Government and Politics with Mr. (Mark) Consorte, and that class made me love it even more. I’ve worked on some political campaigns and was really into that, and I went to Washington, D.C., last April to lobby for after-school programs.”

So it’s no surprise she was a member of the WHHS Student Government, the School Governance Council, and Girl Up, a club that spreads awareness of problems faced by girls and women across the world.

Tarpeh was also a member of the school newspaper and National Honor Society, volunteered at a local soup kitchen with the VolunTEEN club and also with her church, and assisted with WHHS events through her various WHHS clubs: WHHS’ Trick or Trunk? Check. This year’s “One Book, One School Community” project? You bet. The WHHS senior scavenger hunt? She was likely the mastermind behind a few of those impossible-to-decipher clues.

One of the biggest parts of her high school career involved her work with the EVOLUTIONS afterschool science program at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. She applied freshman year after hearing about it in her WHHS science class, then created museum exhibits and learned about preparing for college in workshops run by Yale University students.

From there, Tarpeh became a part of EVOLUTIONS’ Sci.CORPS (Science Career Orientation and Readiness Program for Students), which gave her the chance to educate museum visitors, assist at the membership desk, and review applications of incoming freshmen. She also served as a teaching assistant for EVOLUTIONS classes.

In the WHHS classroom, she took AP (college-level) Psychology, AP Statistics, AP Biology and AP Government and Politics and was ranked 12th in the senior class. Tarpeh was also accepted into the University of New Haven’s Charging Ahead program, taking Human Communications in her junior year and Intro to Legal Concepts in her senior year at UNH.

And in her “spare time,” she worked in a store in the mall.

“I hate feeling stagnant, so I’m always looking for new things to get involved in,” Tarpeh explained. She’s already planning to be a part of student government, a law society and community service programs at UConn and hopes to get a job at the school bookstore.

“I definitely feel prepared for college, especially because of the AP classes I took and being in the UNH Charging Ahead program,” she added.

Another politics enthusiast, Beyl volunteered with a gubernatorial campaign during high school and worked as an official voter checker and greeter for West Haven elections. She even interned for the Democratic Party in Connecticut as a neighborhood team leader, organizing data, running phone banks, canvassing neighborhoods, and recruiting and organizing volunteers. 

That’s all on top of being selected as a student representative for the West Haven Board of Education for two years and being one of two high-schoolers in the entire state chosen to be a student representative for the state Board of Education for this past year. So, she’ll be running for office one day, right?

“I’ve been asked this a lot, since I was, like, 7,” she said, chuckling. “No, I don’t think I want to run for a public office, but maybe be appointed to a position within the United Nations.”

Still, she’s proud of the work she did with both boards of Education. Beyl was first interested in applying for the seats because she simply wanted to get informed and help peers become more aware of how the educational system worked. On the local level, she helped WHHS students understand the school’s attendance policy, and at the state level, she helped form subcommittees with other students from around the state to research extracurricular programs and policies, health and wellness among students, and capstone or independent projects for high school seniors.

Beyl, who ranked fourth in the senior class, also knows her way around the courtroom, thanks to four years on WHHS’ Mock Trial team. She played the roles of witness, attorney and lead attorney on various fictitious cases, was named the team’s Person of the Year for 2016, and interned last summer in a law office with a WHHS alumnus.

She’s no stranger to the stage, either. Beyl was a member of the WHHS Theatre Workshop and Children’s Theatre, and was in the school’s concert and jazz band on trombone.

She even served as class president, a writer and photographer for the school newspaper, a member of the Peer Advocates community service group, a member of the National Honor Society, and a tutor with New Haven Reads. Her WHHS courses included AP Physics, AP Government and Politics, AP Calculus, AP Human Geography and AP Literature, while her UNH Charging Ahead classes were Introduction to Psychology and Human Communications.

With so much of her time devoted to WHHS and the school community over the past four years, it’s easy to see she did everything she had hoped to during high school.

“I feel full, very content, like I’ve eaten a great meal that tasted great, but I’m too full to want to eat more. But I’ll miss the whole West Haven High School community and the culture of being a Westie,” Beyl said. “Sometimes, like with Mock Trial, we were seen as the underdog--I loved having the chance to prove WHHS is a great school.”

Last summer, Beyl also participated in the Yale Young Global Scholars program for its International Affairs and Security session and the Yale Daily News Summer Journalism Program. She described Yale as her “dream school” since she was around 6, and the summer programs only left her more determined to make the Ivy league campus “home” for the next four years.

“I’ve always seen it when driving by, and it’s been in the backdrop of my life. I always thought, ‘Some of the smartest people in the world are in those buildings. Could I go there, too?’” Beyl said. “Then I started getting involved there and found it’s the perfect school for me.”