This fall, Trinity University welcomes the Class of 2026, one of its most competitive, strong, and diverse classes yet. Selected from nearly 11,500 applications, this incoming class boasts a high academic caliber and a diverse group, including 49% students of color and 6.4% international students. As you’ll read below, students from this class also stand out for their dedication to community involvement and drive to use their talents to make a difference in the world.
Meet five outstanding new Tigers who particularly exemplify this dedication and drive. Learn about their accomplishments, why they chose Trinity, and how they plan to get involved on campus.
Ramsey Hutton began Books for L.O.V.E. (Literacy Outreach Volunteer Book Exchange) in 2015 after volunteering at a Manos de Cristo back-to-school event before entering 7th grade.
“I’ve always had a passion for community service,” Hutton says. “I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a part of something that could make a difference in my community.”
Books for L.O.V.E. developed out of Hutton’s wish to ensure that all kids have access to books regardless of their socio-economic status. With the help of her friends, family, and neighbors, Hutton was able to collect around 3,000 books in the first year. Eventually, she created a board of directors that has helped her continue to expand her nonprofit’s reach over the past seven years. Now, Books for L.O.V.E. thrives as a successful nonprofit that has helped provide nearly 40,000 books to people in need in the greater Austin area.
“Books for L.O.V.E. has been the perfect opportunity to harness both my desire to serve and my deep love of reading,” Hutton says. “Seeing the impact Books for L.O.V.E. has had and being able to spread my love of reading to other kids and young adults has been incredibly rewarding. I am so thankful for everyone who has supported me and this organization over the past few years.”
Hutton says she chose Trinity because she was drawn in by “the close-knit community feeling that envelops you the second you step on campus.” She is excited for small class sizes and Trinity’s collaborative environment that helps foster the type of close connections she deeply values.
Hutton plans to major in business, more specifically marketing and advertising, and minor in film studies. Over the next few years, she plans to take advantage of one of Trinity's study abroad programs so she can “see more of the world and learn through experience.”
“I'd also love to eventually work with the Office of Admissions to lead campus tours and be involved in other prospective student outreach,” Hutton says. “I can help highlight some of the things that drew me to Trinity when I was in their shoes.”
Cade Spaulding’s vibrant academic career began at the early age of 12 when he was invited to audit a chemistry class at Rice University. He continued to audit courses at Rice while breezing through his time at Stratford High School in two years, graduating at age 16.
In the fall of 2020, Spaulding decided to take a gap year to work as a full-time research associate with Rice’s Department of Theoretical and Biological Physics, a position he still holds today. As a research associate, Spaulding works with Anatoly Kolomeisky, chemistry department chair, and Hamid Teimouri, postdoctoral research associate, on cancer research.
The team’s work this past spring has been focused on discovering shortcuts for identifying cancer-causing mutations before the tumors take hold to help with cancer prevention. Spaulding liked how this research project involved the intersection of various branches of science including chemistry, physics, biology, and even computer science. In short, this project meshed all of Cade’s interests together while allowing him to contribute to research that could help impact the lives of people all over the world.
Cade’s research team’s third article, titled “The Role of Spatial Structures of Tissues in Cancer Initiation Dynamics,” was recently approved for publication in the Journal of Physical Biology. Cade’s primary role in this research project was to build the computer simulations that modeled how the connectedness of a tissue impacts cancer initiation and compare the results to the team’s mathematical theory. Cade’s fourth research project concerning the dynamics of cancer initiation with different cell types is still pending publication. Cade is the lead researcher for this project.
“I chose Trinity,” Spaulding says, “because of its reputation for rigorous academics and professors who mentor their students and invite them to be involved in cutting-edge research opportunities.”
Spaulding plans to double major in mathematics and applied physics with a concentration in computer science. He is especially looking forward to more exciting research opportunities at Trinity that will allow him to incorporate his love of math, physics, and computer programming. Spaulding hopes to get involved on campus through the Chess Club, improv, and theater.
Community has always been important to Curie Shim. “My lifelong dream is to heal people,” Shim says. “I believe this can only be done when there’s a healthy relationship between people.”
It was with this dream in mind that Shim created her own radio show to build community at SALT International School. Shim wanted to develop a platform where everyone in her high school could show appreciation for each other. She hoped her show would help her community get to know each other better and start every day on a higher note.
To make this vision a reality, Shim knew that she would first have to take the initiative to really understand her community. Before every broadcast, Shim made sure to reach out individually to her guests and become familiar with them. “I got to know every guest before the show, which allowed the guests to talk comfortably,” she says.
“People slowly got to understand my intention, and they, too, deeply sympathized with each guest's stories,” Shim says. She is proud to state that her radio show has settled in as a tradition in her high school. Shim knew her efforts had paid off when her fellow students wrote ‘Thanks for making me happy' in her yearbook.
Understandably, community was a high priority for Shim in her college search process. “Trinity had such a good care system and atmosphere that I could already feel during every Trinity Zoom session,” Shim says. Thanks to Trinity’s virtual recruitment measures, Shim was able to make deep connections despite her physical distance from the campus. It was during a Zoom session that Shim discovered Trinity’s strong pre-med resources, especially its internship opportunities. These resources, along with her generous scholarship offers, ultimately secured Shim’s decision.
At Trinity, Shim plans to pursue biology on the pre-med track. She’s particularly looking forward to her First-Year Experience course. But most importantly, Shim is excited to meet with her academic counselor and talk freely about her interests and future. She deeply appreciates how Trinity strives to provide guidance to its students regardless of where they are from. Shim continues to be amazed by how quickly and genuinely Trinity cares for all its students.
“Coming to Texas from Korea wasn’t an easy decision,” Shim says. Having to say goodbye to loved ones, albeit temporarily, is always tough. But Shim looks forward to joining and contributing to the Trinity community: “At Trinity, I will strive to be the bridge between people as I did at my high school!”
Alex Buckelew began raising Guide Dogs for the blind through James Madison High School’s Agricultural Magnet Program. Although he joined the club in late 2019, because of the pandemic, Buckelew didn’t receive his first puppy to train until October 2021. While waiting for his own puppy, Buckelew helped puppy-sit dogs for other raisers, attended monthly meetings and outings, and took dogs with him to his classes at school.
Buckelew now spends his time with Lupine, his current Puppy in Training. Lupine’s training involves learning basic commands such as sit, down, stand, stay, wait, kennel, go to bed, and many more. To prepare Lupine for her future as a Guide Dog for the blind, Buckelew actively takes Lupine on outings to socialize her, allowing her to become familiar with all different sounds, people, and environments.
“She is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me,” Buckelew says. “Having the opportunity to raise Guide Dog puppies has been one of the best and most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I can’t wait to continue to be involved in my club and see where all of our dogs end up.”
Buckelew’s volunteer work doesn’t end with raising Guide Dog puppies for the blind. He also volunteers to help wounded veterans participating in sled hockey. Buckelew began playing sled hockey in the summer of 2017 and soon translated his hobby into an opportunity for community service, which he still participates in today. Through Operation Comfort, Buckelew helps out wounded veterans on the ice with equipment, drills, coaching, and anything else they might need.
One of the veterans Buckelew works with is three-time paralympic gold medalist Jen Lee. Buckelew has worked with other members of Team USA during yearly training camps where the organization recruits new players. “Volunteering with sled hockey and Operation Comfort has helped me so much with giving back to my community and given me so many new people in my life,” he says.
Buckelew chose Trinity for its smaller campus setting. He knew that Trinity would offer him a tight-knit community where he would “be able to know and talk to my professors and classmates.” Buckelew is coming into Trinity as a prospective psychology and communication double-major, and he is looking forward to getting involved with his majors. He is also excited to get involved in many different clubs, particularly the Trinity Bee Alliance, and to meet “other students like me.”
“As an incoming college student who is both queer and chronically ill/disabled, it’s pretty scary going into a new situation,” Buckelew says. “But I’m excited for all the new opportunities I’m going to have and all the new people I’m going to meet.”
Natalie Cornejo was part of the first group of students to join the mariachi ensemble at Cypress Woods High School. She played alongside her fellow students as the principal violinist of the school’s all-district mariachi ensemble. Cornejo also often mentored the younger students in technique alongside her director.
“Playing mariachi music is such a different experience from playing in a traditional orchestra because there is no room for hesitation, fear, or learning things halfway,” Cornejo says. “It's music that requires you to embody the story of the song and to connect with the other players around you, and as more students joined the ensemble, I was able to encourage other classically-trained violinists to give it a chance.”
Cornejo’s ensemble has played at heritage events for elementary students, district-wide gatherings for staff and volunteers, and also community events. Cornejo also started and managed the Instagram account for her mariachi ensemble. She took the initiative to work on recruitment and creating advertising materials for concerts and events.
After four years in her mariachi ensemble, Cornejo proudly says the experience “gave her a more profound love for her Hispanic culture and for truly making music.”
Cornejo chose Trinity because she believed its immersive academic experience and supportive community would allow her to break her own limits and pursue a multitude of radically different interests. “Being selected as a Trinity Towers Scholar also made me feel like other people truly believed I could succeed at Trinity and that I would have an impact on the University,” she says. Cornejo also credits the TriniCats as “excellent influences” on her college decision.
At Trinity, Cornejo wishes to pursue a neuroscience and religion double-major on the pre-med track. This past June, Cornejo competed at the international conference for Medical Spelling, and she looks forward to joining Trinity's HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) chapter specifically because of its opportunities to compete in health science events. She’s also looking forward to taking advantage of Trinity’s numerous undergraduate research opportunities to conduct neuroscience research that will challenge her “to push my knowledge and to embrace the unknown.” Cornejo hopes to be active in Chapel and Spiritual Life and to continue to advocate for Trinity as a tour guide or an admissions ambassador.
She plans to continue to share her musical talents by auditioning for the Trinity Student Orchestra. “If I can find other people to play with me,” Cornejo says, “I would be thrilled to take what I've learned and start a mariachi ensemble at Trinity!”