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For a curious mind, inspiration can come from unexpected places.

Consider how Carlisle High School senior Mayce Van described the way her interest in Shakespeare and Latin developed.

Van said that when she was in fourth grade, she was spending time with her aunt, or more accurately, annoying her aunt. So her aunt threw a book at her.

“I just started reading it to leave her alone,” Van said.

The book happened to be an anthology of the works of William Shakespeare.

Van laughed as she told the story, and assured that she was fine and not to worry about her as she described a love of Latin that grew out of her reading. Shakespeare’s works are peppered with phrases in French and Latin. Van wanted to know exactly what those phrases meant.

“I kept getting so angry that I didn’t understand any of those phrases, and Google translate was just unreliable,” she said.

So by the time she was in sixth grade, Van set out to find someone who would tutor her in Latin, and has spent Saturdays and Sundays over the past five years studying.

Those years paid off when Van earned a Britton Scholarship, which allows three students at Carlisle High School to attend two classes at Dickinson College during their senior year. Because she had done so well in her private Latin lessons, Van was able to enroll in the second-year college courses, Introduction to Latin Prose and Introduction to Latin Poetry.

During high school, Van has also continued to pursue her love of Shakespeare as part of the Page-to-Stage Club and class in which she performed as Renee in "Mandy Dear," the lead witch in "Macbeth" and Lady Capulet in "Romeo and Juliet." She has also performed in scenes from "The Tempest," "Macbeth," "As You Like It," "Othello" and "Romeo and Juliet" at the Carlisle Theatre alongside Carlisle Cantate for multiple programs. Van was the junior reveler leader and director of King Lear and the senior reveler leader, senior troupe director and director of "Love’s Labour’s Lost" in the high school’s Shakespeare Troupe. She was also part of the EtCetera acting troupe.

In addition, Van participated in the Model UN Club and Poetry Out Loud competitions.

Van has also earned medals at the Academic Decathlon, which she described as a “grand tournament” of quizzes and tests covering math, social studies, art and literature among other subjects.

“It’s the nerdiest event you ever saw,” she said. “I love it.”

In addition to helping at her family’s businesses, Quy’s Vietnamese and Van’s Nails, Van has volunteered at Project SHARE, the Carlisle Summer Program for Youth, Carlisle CARES at St. John’s, and the St. John’s nursery program. Van is the daughter of Hoa Van and Tam Van.

Volunteering at Agia Sophia Harrisburg has been a highlight for Van. The non-profit coffee shop, operated by Orthodox Christian Charities of Greater Harrisburg Inc., runs almost exclusively with volunteers, and the profits are given to Harrisburg charities. Van has cleaned, cooked and served as a cashier in what she described as a quaint brown and tan coffee shop.

“In the background, you hear the chants of Greek churchmen. It’s so beautiful,” she said.

Van is awaiting word on college applications to Haverford, Swarthmore, Dickinson and Bryn Mawr. She plans on studying business.

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