If Douglas Connell could be anywhere in the world right now, the 17-year-old Clifton Park native would probably be breaking frost covered ground at an archaeological site in Iceland. For now, however, Connell is preoccupied with two-a-day swim practices, college applications and Model UN.
Connell, now a senior at Albany Academy, has been in the boy scouts since first grade and earned the Eagle Scout award Saturday, December 19. “It’s very prestigious, not many people get it. I worked extremely hard for the past few years to finally finish it,” he explained.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to call Connell a modern day renaissance man. Like many high schoolers with lofty goals, Connell participates in a wide array of activities. Just last month, he represented the Austria Hungary Empire in a historical Model UN Conference. He has four varsity swimming and diving seasons under his belt and acts as the President of the Wind Ensemble after nine years of playing clarinet.
While Connell was born and raised in Clifton Park, his parents are originally from England. The couple moved to the states to work with GE Aircraft Engines in Cincinnati in 1986. Douglas’s mother Isobel Connell explained, “It was just for the adventure really, as far as we were concerned. It was just after we were married.” The couple moved to Clifton Park in 1989 to work for GE Research. Mrs. Connell added, “We still have family in England, so go and visit every year so that Douglas belongs there as well as here. He does have dual citizenship.”
Commenting on her son’s plans to pursue anthropology and history as an undergraduate, Mrs. Connell said, “We are both engineers, and yet have produced a child who can’t stand math and wants to do history!
Q&A with Douglas Connell: College aspirations, politics and jazz.
- Can you tell me a bit about your Eagle Scout project?
My Eagle project was to create a guide, geared towards elementary aged children, describing some natural and historic details of Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve in the area from Whipple Bridge to Lock 19. You can access the information through scanning QR codes that are printed on signs along the towpath and you can learn about subjects such as reptiles, amphibians, Farmers bridges, Lock 19, John Clute House, insects, woodland and water birds, and plant invasion. I also organized building a bench at Lock 19
- What are you most passionate about and why?
I am very passionate about swimming. Over winter break we have two two-hour practices each day. We normally eat a ton of food in between practices and go to someone’s house in Albany so we can watch a movie or play video games. I just love the whole atmosphere and comradery of the team.
I also really enjoy traveling. Because my parents are European, I have been fortunate enough to travel all across Europe. My favorite place I have ever been to was Iceland. It is just such a beautiful country and the people there are so nice. By the way, if anybody reading this could help me get a job in Iceland, that would be great!
- What are your hopes and dreams for your post-high school life? Have you thought much about college? Do you know what you’d like to pursue?
It could be because I watched Indiana Jones too much, but I want to become an archaeologist. I have always loved history. I did the archaeology camp with The Archaeological Perspective at Jonesville for a couple of summers when I was in elementary School, and loved pretending that I was a real archaeologist digging up an ancient Mayan temple. I definitely want to go to college. My first choice is St. Lawrence University in Canton. Because not many colleges in the United States offer an Archaeology degree, I plan on pursuing a degree in history and anthropology.
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I see myself off on a dig somewhere, preferably somewhere in Northern Europe where it is nice and cold. Somewhere like Iceland.
- What’s your favorite band/musician?
I tend to listen to a lot of independent, lesser known artists. My favorite band is called Postmodern Jukebox. They take modern day pop songs and make them into jazz songs. I suggest you check out their YouTube page, they are an amazing group of musicians! I have seen them live three times already.
- Favorite movie or book? Why?
My favorite movie is Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. I mostly like it because of Heath Ledger’s legendary portrayal as the Joker. The writing was brilliant, and the acting was superb.
- What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of achieving my Eagle Scout Award.
- We all feel the crunch of time. I imagine you’ve experienced that, too. What would you do if you had an extra hour in the day?
If I had an extra hour in the day, I would probably spend it procrastinating about my homework I have to do the next day.
- Who or what has had the greatest influence on who you are today?
Working at Twin Rivers Boy Scout Council Camp Boyhaven for Cub Scouts has influenced me the most. I have worked there as a lifeguard for the last 2 summers. The people who I worked with and the kids who I had the privilege to teach were exceptional people. The whole experience of working at a summer camp has changed my outlook on life.
- Who’s your favorite teacher? What subject does he/she teach? Why are they your favorite?
This is a difficult question. I have had so many great teachers at my school. Mr. Poole, my Sophomore English teacher and High School advisor, has pretty much pushed me through High School. Mr. Jacobs, my band teacher, I have known half my life. Mr. Young, my anatomy teacher and swimming coach, has taught me the importance of hard work all the time.
- What do you think of the presidential candidates this election year?
To put it bluntly, I am very disappointed in the candidates this year, especially because all you hear about is Donald Trump’s latest rant and nothing much about real issue being discussed.
- Are you old enough to vote? If so, will you cast your first ballot in this election?
I tend to think more liberally, so I think that I will vote for Bernie Sanders. This will be the first election that I will be able to vote in.