Oral Histories

Elise Sivilay, Neil Rubin, and Christian Nøkkentved

Streaming Media


Elise Sivilay, Neil Rubin, and Christian Nøkkentved



Asked why they came to IMSA, Sivilay says she came for the challenge, with support from her parents. Rubin says he liked math in school and wanted the opportunity to study things beyond what an ordinary high school would offer. He had done a summer program facilitated by a member of the charter class and particularly remembers her talking about astronomy and other things she'd learned at IMSA, which may have planted the idea in his head. Sivilay's first impressions included the colored t-shirts they wore at Synergy and feeling like the campus was like a college. She remembers forming friendships with people in her wing right away. Rubin also remembers making very strong friendships. They both recall the fun social life in the residence halls.

In terms of academics, Sivilay says she has fond memories of Dr. Nok, and that many other teachers left a strong impression on the culture of the place, even if she didn't have them in class. Rubin says he studied physics and math initially after leaving IMSA, a path that came from good teachers in those areas, including Dr. Workman in physics. Sivilay also had Dr. Workman for calc-based physics in the experimental all-girls class that ran at the time. She says then she did not understand the experiment, but in hindsight she values it and what she learned about how people learn.

For extracurriculars, Sivilay was in dance squad and captained it for two years. Rubin's extracurriculars were very academically oriented; besides band, he was in math team, science olympiad, and the American computer science league. Sivilay also did a mentorship and worked at a company that made smoke detectors, where she studied LEDs. Rubin did a mentorship at FermiLab his senior year.

Overall, Sivilay says she has very fond memories of IMSA, including the close friendships and the fact that students had so many opportunities by being there. Rubin says what stands out was being around so many smart and intellectually curious people. Both also reflect on how the environment was supportive. They close out the discussion by talking about how IMSA has changed over time, with observations from Dr. Nok.

Duration: 24:40




band, curriculum, extracurriculars, faculty, friends, math classes, science classes, Student Inquiry & Research, research, residential life


Oral History


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Elise Sivilay, Neil Rubin, and Christian Nøkkentved