Alumni Profile: Ethan McCollister

Harvard’s student newspaper, “The Crimson,” recently ran a story about the last games of the legendary Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, connecting Ortiz’s career to that of a Harvard freshman, the writer of the piece, Ethan McCollister.

On any given night, you can find U-32 alum Ethan McCollister up late in his dorm until 2 or 3 AM, studying for his classes, getting to know the people around him, and enjoying life at college. From living on a farm in Vermont to attending arguably the best school in the country, Ethan McCollister is enjoying the college experience.

Like many kids growing up in Vermont, McCollister was raised on a family farm. It was there that he learned the value of hard work and was motivated to do well. “It’s not naturally his ‘thing’ to farm, or to do chores for animals,” said McCollister’s mom, Erica Zimmerman. “But he was always willing to take on the big projects and he learned you cannot stop until they are done.”

In middle school, McCollister kept pushing himself and took advantage of all the opportunities that were presented to him. A yearly project in math includes designing a portable mini golf course. McCollister’s golf course was different. “True to Ethan’s form, it was very different than everyone else’s,” said Hollis St. Peter, McCollister’s math teacher in 7th and 8th grade. “Ethan and his partner constructed a mini golf hole that was multi-tiered included multiple holes and tubes that allowed the ball to end up in any number of different places….He was excited and always put in the extra time even if it was more than he had to do.”

In eighth grade McCollister was a page at the state house, where, his mother says, he picked up “the civics and government interest” that carried over to a summer program for Model U.N. and a free European history class at Yale. During his junior year, he participated in a semester long program, revolving around Civics and government. “All those programs treated the students as serious learners who can do anything.”

Now at Harvard, Ethan has become part of the Harvard Crimson–the nation’s oldest continuously published daily college newspaper. In the Crimson, there are nine boards or categories that students can write about. Ranging from Sports to News/business, there is something for every student on the Crimson staff to write about. McCollister has chosen to do a series of Op-Eds — Opinion Editorials — which are opinionated articles based on Harvard’s audience. Every Tuesday, he has meetings with the Crimson’s staff, revising and thinking of new topics for his editorial. “It takes up a fair amount of time, more than a couple of my classes even,” said McCollister.

Ethan’s typical day at Harvard starts with waking up at 9 A.M, with class generally starting at 10 A.M. Classes at Harvard range from an hour and a half to three hours a day. After class, he sometimes goes to office hours to study and meet with teachers. On Thursdays, he goes to a study group with Michael A. Blake — a state political director for President Obama in 2008. In these meetings, McCollister talks about politics with Blake, who has firsthand experience with political science. An example of a topic that they covered recently was discussing how people of color will become the majority in the United States.

Once every week, he has baseball practice for his club team for about an hour. At the end of the week, they play games. These games aren’t competitive but rather for fun and for the love of the game of baseball.

On average, McCollister gets 6-7 hours of sleep a night. The freshman live in dorms located in Harvard Yard, “the oldest and most iconic part of the campus.” McCollister lives in Weld Hall and his room is “impressively small, said McCollister, “but it is nice in that it’s one of the largest and most social, so it’s easy to meet lots of people and there’s generally stuff going on.”