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Michael Agrippina, '11

Posted: 9/30/2013

Michael, what was your spiritual, athletic, intellectual, and social experience at Holy Spirit Prep?  My experience at HSP really tied together all of those aspects in a wonderful way.

Spiritually, I enjoyed discussions in religion class, the opportunity to frequently receive sacraments, and singing in the choir with my classmates. I loved having access to the chapel all the time—if you were ever having a tough day, you could step in and get some peace. It was also special to prepare for and receive Confirmation with my classmates.

I embraced the athletics at HSP and had some of my best memories on our courts and fields. The no-cut policy and small size of the school gave me the opportunity to participate in six varsity sports. Basketball was always my favorite and my senior year the team won twenty games and finished second in our region. I stopped playing soccer in middle school, but the coach encouraged me to play my senior year and I got a chance to be a part of that region champion team, another awesome memory.

Intellectually, HSP always gave me the opportunity to push myself in the classroom. With a wide array of AP and college-level classes on my plate, I learned solid study habits that have carried over to college. Taking classes from experienced professors like Dr. Voss and Dr. Devine prepared me for the rigor of the college classroom. The environment of academic discussion and curiosity that flourished at HSP was one of the things that led me to a liberal arts college.

Socially, I made some of my best friends in my time at HSP. I’m still in touch with a few classmates and love seeing everyone at alumni events. I’ll always remember roadtripping to away games with a crew of Cougar fans, tucking in our ties to play basketball at lunch, and hanging out in the library or Cougar Café after school.

You took on many leadership positions when you were a student at HSP. Can you tell us how they prepared you for life outside high school?  I was always involved in the House system and served as the President of the House of Trent my senior year. I learned a lot from the experience—I had never tried to lead that many people before. Talking to a quarter of the school every week at assembly gave me a confidence in my public speaking skills that has served me well in college.

My senior year, I also served as the Battalion Commander of the Joint Forces Corps of Cadets (JFCC). My experiences in the Naval Sea Cadets and JFCC really instilled discipline in me and gave me mental toughness.

I learned many lessons from my time as captain and chaplain of the basketball team my senior year. I believe that you’re always part of a team in some capacity, whether in the office or for a group project in class. My leadership experience at HSP prepared me to excel on any team.

How did your time at HSP encourage you to go into your field of study?  I am currently double majoring in Mass Communication and Business Administration. My passion for Mass Communication started at HSP , where I had the opportunity to take a broadcast journalism class and do some projects in the school’s recording studio. I always had a passion for writing and communication, but I didn’t know how to channel it. Mr. Haley was a role model and mentor to me who guided me to mass communication. He shared many lessons that he had learned through all of his experiences and showed a genuine interest in helping me.

Can you tell us about your experience as a student at Washington and Lee?  Washington and Lee has been an amazing experience. It’s only about 2,000 undergraduate students, which made for a smooth transition for me from HSP . As a liberal arts school, it allowed me to explore many different fields of study. Coming out of high school, I had little idea what I wanted to study, so I appreciated the opportunity to take my time figuring it out.

I was recruited to play basketball at W&L, but ended up getting hurt right before the season freshman year. I talked to the track coach and he gave me the chance to try out as a thrower, where I had no real experience. I picked it up pretty quickly and have finished top ten in our conference the past two years in javelin and hammer throw.

I serve as Social Media Chair for One in Four, a student group dedicated to preventing sexual violence on campus. We lead discussion groups for freshmen to educate them and train them to be active bystanders. It has given me the opportunity to make a difference on campus while gaining communication experience in social media as I run the group’s Twitter account.

I’m also Treasurer of the Society of Professional Journalists, which ties together my communication and business interests, and stay involved in the Catholic Campus Ministry.

Can you tell us about a recent neat experience? Washington and Lee finishes the academic year with a month-long Spring Term where students only take one class. Last Spring Term, I took a business class called Creative Strategic Planning. Our professor got in touch with the Manager of Interactive Advertising for FedEx, who tasked us with revising the brand strategy for FedEx Office in the millennial market. It was a new and challenging experience that gave me a chance to understand the process of brand planning, from market research to competitive reviews. At the end of the term, we traveled up to Washington, D.C. and presented our plan to the FedEx Manager. It was very well received and gave me experience that served me well in my internship this summer in the Marketing Department of Dickey Broadcasting.

What are your plans after Washington and Lee?  That’s in God’s hands! I still have a couple of years to figure everything out, but right now I am exploring fields that combine business and communication—something along the lines of consulting, marketing, or PR. I’m also thinking about applying to Notre Dame’s ACE Service through Teaching program, which produced many of my favorite HSP teachers and coaches. Although I don’t know if I want to be a teacher long-term, I would treasure the opportunity to teach and serve for a couple of years while growing in my faith and earning a Master of Education degree. I’ve reached out to some former teachers who were in ACE and have received some great advice.

Michael Agrippina, Class of '11
Michael with his brother Andrew, Class of '15