Crocker Memorial Award: Aaron Primero ’09

Aaron Primero ’09, the 2012 recipient of the Fredrick Greely Crocker Memorial Award, uses his time wisely—a good thing for someone on whom so many have come to depend. He chose to transfer to Columbia University following his freshman year at Georgetown partly to be in New York, where he could do more of what inspires him (without a commute from Washington).

High on Aaron’s to-do list is the St. Thomas Choir School, where he spent five years before attending Groton, and particularly the St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys. The school and church are a relatively quick subway/bus trip from the Upper West Side of Manhattan, making his engagement with the school a pleasant diversion from the demands of Columbia, where he is a classics major. For the choir boys of St. Thomas, Aaron does it all: tutoring, escorting them between the school and the church, substitute teaching, and helping with sports and other afternoon activities. Beginning this June, he joins the Alumni Board of the Choir School. Though he is not technically singing at St. Thomas, he is helping to inspire and nurture the young choristers—vocally and academically.

To promote his own passion for singing, he tapped into Columbia’s close partnership with Barnard, just a few blocks west of the Columbia campus. An audition soon after his arrival at Columbia won him a scholarship for voice lessons with a Barnard professor. In addition, New York City’s churches have a rich tradition of choral music, and Aaron was offered a place in the professional choir of Christ and St. Stephen’s Church, about 20 blocks from his dormitory. Taking voice lessons, singing in a choir, and volunteering at a choir school are among many ways that Aaron maintains balance between his academic and nonacademic pursuits, between his head and his heart.

Aaron loves the study of the classics because it demands precision and discipline—the same reason he gives for fulfilling his pre-med requirements this year. From a young age, he had been intrigued and drawn to a career in medicine; when he traveled to Kenya the summer after his graduation from Groton, his nascent interest joined a growing awareness of the health needs of the African communities he witnessed. Initially, he planned to pursue a degree in international health policy at Georgetown. Though he found the major interesting, he was not yet ready for such an intensely focused area of study. He also missed studying Latin. Transferring to Columbia enabled him to major in the classics and fulfill pre-med requirements, positioning himself to seize any number of opportunities in the years ahead.

Aaron is thinking for the long term, balancing his devotion to the communities of which he is a part and his passion for intellectual challenge and engagement. Though poised to pursue a medical career, he is not yet ready to commit to one and won’t until he is ready to meet the demands with the full force of his intellect and energy. In the meantime, he focuses on broadening his knowledge and experience, drawing from a variety of sources. He has interned in medical research and clinical studies at the MD Anderson Cancer Center and this summer will intern for a New York City consulting firm with a specialty in health and life sciences.

Despite his outside interests, Aaron is involved on Columbia’s campus: he is a Resident Assistant, overseeing the social, academic, and emotional lives of his residents. From how to choose a major to how to handle roommate incompatibility, Aaron dispenses advice to students, who appreciate his extraordinarily thoughtful approach. He also is treasurer for Columbia’s Filipino club, Liga Filipina, and will become its president next fall. As he moves deeper into adulthood, Aaron is becoming more interested in learning about his Filipino ancestry and culture. This club brings together a broad swath of Filipino-Americans and Filipinos at Columbia, who together explore the language, politics, and culture of their ancestral home. Next year Aaron hopes to expand this circle to include Filipino students at other area colleges and universities, broadening yet again the circle of his engagement.

The Crocker Prize is awarded each spring to that Groton graduate who in the first three years after graduation has brought honor to Groton and to his form. Nominated by his formmates, Aaron has certainly brought honor to Groton and will no doubt continue to do so in the years to come.

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