Chesed Chap, 17, will graduate from Patagonia Union High School in May. After that, she’ll resume her education next fall at Yale University, for which she received a full-ride scholarship.
She said she hopes there will be in-person courses on campus in New Haven, Conn. by the time she begins her college career. Either way, she is not planning to let a pandemic get in the way of her plans.
Chap was active in high school, including playing soccer and tennis for PUHS. But it’s been the passion she’s had for art since an early age that has propelled her aspirations and helped chart her path.
She received her scholarship from the QuestBridge National College Match, a college admission process through which high-achieving, low-income students can be admitted early with full four-year scholarships.
Her major will be in theater studies with a minor or possible double major in education.
“I think what really stood out in my (scholarship) application was that I am passionate about my major,” she said.
Teaching seems to come naturally to Chap. She began attending art classes through the Patagonia Creative Arts Association in the first grade. But soon she was helping out other children as a teacher’s assistant, said PCAA director Cassina Farley, who has been with the organization for seven years.
Testing her artistic boundaries, last year, Chap wrote and directed what was referred to as a “feminist rendition” of a classic 1951 novel by J.D. Salinger. Called “Catcher in the Rye; a gluten-free play,” it was performed at the Tin Shed Theater in Patagonia.
Farley described Chap as “kind, charismatic and thoughtful. She is wise beyond her years. I remember her as a 10-year-old going on 15 years old. But in a good way. She is so willing to learn. She’s one of those persons you meet who you know are going somewhere.”
Chap said growing up she was inspired by her arts teachers, who were generally “teaching artists with some sense of wanting to give back – a sense of intellectual exchange. I really enjoyed that.”
Teaching runs in the family, including her father, Peter Chap, who taught in Tucson and Sierra Vista for more than 20 years.
A PCAA Facebook post noted, “Chesed has been an ‘Art Center kid’ since the first grade. Through the years we have had the pleasure of teaching her, working with her and marveling in all of her accomplishments. We are so proud of you, Chesed.”
A post on the PUHS Facebook page also congratulated Chap, and included a photo of her holding up a poster confirming her match at Yale and thanking the QuestBridge program.
“We are so happy for you and can not wait to see the amazing accomplishments we know you will make!” the PUHS post said.