Isabella Toscano likes to challenge herself and she’s never afraid to move outside of her comfort zone. The Huntington High School senior wanted something different for college so she will head west to the University of Oklahoma and join the Sooners on one of the most high-spirited campuses in the country.
“Oklahoma was the first college that I have ever visited,” Ms. Toscano said. “In eighth grade, my mom and I went to attend the first game of the women’s softball college world series in Oklahoma City. While we were there, we scheduled a visit at the school. It was absolutely beautiful and it felt like this was the one. Fast forward to four years later, no other college has topped Oklahoma. Ultimately my decision was to choose the school I fell in love with as an eighth grader.”
Huntington senior Izzy Toscano is headed to the University of Oklahoma
Widely known as Izzy, Ms. Toscano plans to study psychology and “enter a field of work that uses it every day,” she said. The Huntington senior earned a Merit Award from Oklahoma in the amount of $24,000 and said she’s “extremely grateful” for it.
“Huntington has prepared me for college by giving me the confidence in myself and my knowledge to leave home and continue my education,” Ms. Toscano said. “I am grateful to have experienced the diversity and being exposed to different cultures, as well as participating in a variety of groups and activities throughout my years.”
Ms. Toscano said the most valuable course she has taken is Advanced Placement Seminar. “While in the class you don’t know the immense improvement and knowledge you acquire until the course is over,” she said. “With Mrs. [Dianna] Cazzalino’s help and the course itself, I feel comfortable speaking in front of crowds, finding sources that are reliable and writing a research paper. I feel that the information I have learned from this course will be the most helpful in my college career.”
The senior has played on the Blue Devil varsity girls’ volleyball, basketball and softball teams over the past four years and she’s been a key contributor on all three.
“My favorite activity has been volleyball,” Ms. Toscano said. “As a freshman, the morning of tryouts, I was in bed and had no intention of going. I did not want to enter high school or start my entry any earlier in August. Luckily, Steli Vlahos came to my house and dragged me out of bed. It took her an hour to convince me, get me to get dressed and leave the house to get to tryouts. Coming to tryouts was one of the best decisions that I’ve made.”
Ms. Toscano truly found a home on the volleyball team. “Throughout the years the bonds and friendships that were formed are something that I could have never had,” she said. “Senior year was absolutely my favorite. Our team felt like one large friend group that had something new to talk about every day. Coming to practice was always fun, but instructional and educational. Coach [Lauren] Visbal has been an awesome coach and I am so happy and thankful that I played for her. I am so lucky that I was able to play with this group of girls and will always cherish the memories.”
The University of Oklahoma enrolls about 32,000 students on its 3,000 acre campus in Norman. The school boasts more than 300 programs on the undergraduate and graduate levels and 75 more on the doctoral level. Nicknamed the Sooners, the athletic program competes in NCAA Division I in the Big 12 Conference. Its teams routinely compete for national championships.
Ms. Toscano’s advice to incoming Huntington High School freshmen? “Try new things and join anything that interests you,” she said. “There are so many amazing clubs and teams that will accept you for who you are and become some of your best friends. The memories that you will make are some that you will never forget.”
The teenager has always relied on the advice and support of her family. “At different times I have had different people to rely on,” Ms. Toscano said. “They have helped me make the right choice and steered me in the right direction.”
Although the University of Oklahoma is 1,500 miles from Huntington, Ms. Toscano will never forget her hometown or all the people and personalities she has crossed paths with over the years.
“Huntington is absolutely a special place,” Ms. Toscano said. “The community of teachers, students and faculty is so welcoming and amazing. They go out of their way to help each other in times of need. My experience has been perfect and I will always miss the memories I made here.”