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As Philly Free School approaches its tenth year, we caught up with alumna Blythe Bloom (‘18) to see what she's doing now. To support the Real Learning, Real Results at PFS, please consider donating to help us meet our $20k fundraising goal:

When we talk, it’s over a crackly connection. Blythe now lives in a remote part of Vermont, studying science at Marlboro College, a self-governing community of about 200 people.

It took Blythe a while to find her thing. She spent most of her time at PFS organizing committees and sitting on JC. “We had things to make art, we had space to make music, we had books to read - I tried all of them, but none of them clicked with me the way planning did. So I thought planning was my passion.” It wasn’t until her final year, perusing the library, that she stumbled on her love for science. She picked up a book called Your Inner Fish. Perplexed and fascinated, Blythe kept reading: “the book was at a reading level that I’m at now, maybe, and it was really hard for me. But I was really interested and I kept trying, and that started my interest in science.”

This wasn’t the first time Blythe dove headfirst into something challenging, or the last. For a long time, she had no interest in attending college: “I saw college as scary school work.” A former staff member pushed Blythe to see past her fear and have confidence in herself: “Michelle wasn’t pushy about me going to college, but she did push me to overcome my fear. Whenever she heard me doubting an idea or plan, she’d say, “why not try?” 

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Having decided to apply to college, Blythe went with confidence into her applications. But it wasn’t easy. “The applications in general were really hard for me. One of the essays was supposed to be easy - just submit any old academic paper you’ve written in the last two years. And I was like, ‘I don’t have any academic essays, so guess I’ll write one right now.’ I chose the history of birth control. I edited the hell out of that paper. You can ask the current staff, I went to them so many times and asked them to read my application essays.”

Blythe has taken that confidence with her into college. “I know myself really well. That’s the biggest part - I don’t have that attitude of ‘this seems hard - maybe I shouldn’t do it.’ That’s how I go into all of my science classes. I think, ‘I really want to take Chemistry. How hard is Chemistry? Really f-ing hard. How bad do I want to do well in Chemistry? Really f-ing bad.’ So I’m just gonna have to do it. And I’m going to have to work ten times harder than everyone else, but if that’s what it takes, then I’m gonna do it.” 

Blythe isn’t sure what she wants to do after college, but she isn’t worried. “I left PFS knowing myself. When the right thing comes along, I’ll know what I want, and I’ll be able to do it.”

PFS: Real learning. Real results. To support, please consider contributing to our Annual Appeal fundraiser:

Haley Tilt, November 12th