It’s admissions season but it’s very unlikely that students are filling out their school applications, at least not to Admissions Director Mary Helen Bryant’s knowledge. But some students defy the norm. Enter senior Chandler Dula. As a fifth grader, Chandler had his sights set on GAC and so he did what any exceptionally driven, go-getter would do: he filled out his own application.
“I had to stop at the point where it asks for your credit card,” he said with a smile. He came for an interview the day that illustrious Atlanta leader Andrew Young came to speak during chapel. “This place was more than I could have imagined. I felt like I was called to be here. And it’s become the place that has pushed me to be the best version of myself.”
When asked what has kept him here all these years, Chandler zeroes in on relationships. “I still talk to my teachers from Middle School. They’ve been there for me, watching my progress through high school and celebrating my success.” He’s also had the opportunity to “throw himself into everything he could” because of the countless co-curricular options at GAC. A seasoned lacrosse player who just signed to play for Williams College, the top liberal arts college in the nation, he’s been able to expand beyond sports while at GAC. Most recently he was seen as a leading cast member in GAC’s moving spring production, A Raisin in the Sun. “GAC has given me every opportunity I’ve needed to reach my maximum potential.” This includes achieving a 4.28 grade point average and becoming student body President and National Honor Society Vice President.
While at GAC, Chandler has also been able to grow spiritually through opportunities to serve. He volunteers extensively and his favorite project so far has been the mission trip he took to Guatemala his junior year. There he worked with a team to build houses with Casas Por Cristo. He is grateful for the connections he was able to make with the local children and families, in part thanks to the language skills he learned while in Ms. Lana Garner’s advanced Spanish classes. “I was impacted by the family for which we built the house. The husband didn’t crack a smile until the last day and then he was crying. Being an answer to their prayers showed me that I have the power to make an impact.”
And that desire has been a driving force in Chandler’s life. He believes he is on a trajectory to use the platforms he has to influence those around him to act. It all started when a fellow classmate spoke a prophetic word to him during a listening prayer session at school, with a simple call to “talk”. And that has been a calling Chandler has followed since then. He has spoken at numerous chapels, at a faculty and staff breakfast, and gave a sermon at his church. His gift for public speaking was also recognized with a regional award for extemporaneous speaking. But even more significant, it influenced his path to Williams College. When the Williams coach called him to extend the offer to play for their team, he mentioned that the video of Chandler’s sermon had circulated around the New England Small College Athletic Conference and other D3 institutions. “We knew you had the grades and that you’re good on the field,” the coach said, “but now we know you have character.” And that is how Chandler is known, by teachers and peers alike.