I came to Randolph at the start of 8th grade, alumna Hutson Chilton told Adam Bernick, Director of Advancement, when they met up at Merrimack Hall. My family had just moved to Huntsville for my dad’s job. My parents wanted to ensure that we got the best education possible. Randolph challenged me with not only a rigorous course load, but also a need to learn time management. I was involved in sports and a few clubs and I learned a lot about how to organize my time to meet all of my commitments. I was also challenged because I was close to many of my teachers; I was inspired to work harder because I knew how much they cared. All of my teachers at Randolph shaped me, but in particular I became very close with Mrs. Reyes, Mrs. McMichens, and Mr. Liese. I felt comfortable going to them with any personal or academic issues or even just sharing my life with them.
I absolutely felt Known, Challenged, and Loved at Randolph. All the teachers learn not just your name but your face, your personality, and your strengths and weaknesses, and can help individualize teaching with that knowledge. I think the most important aspect that helped me develop was the accessibility of the teachers. I felt comfortable going to most if not all of my teachers when I wanted to learn more about a particular topic we’d covered or an unrelated interest that they might know about. It encouraged and facilitated my learning more than what was offered in the classroom, something necessary for any passion to develop. I took this for granted until college.
I graduated from Rice University in 2015. My senior year I was part of a team that designed an energy-generating knee brace. I spent the following year traveling around the country in a Vanagon. You can read about that here. One of the great things I took away from that experience was an openness to experiences and opportunities.
I haven’t quite narrowed down what my One Passion is. I’m interested in a lot of things, one of which is how biology and engineering can be applied to help solve issues related to climate change, and in that respect Randolph prepared me very well for my bioengineering degree with a rigorous and extensive science and math education. Studying at Randolph also refined my writing skills, which will help no matter what paths I go down, but my current career path is pretty unrelated to my degree. I work as a staff member in the adult day program at Merrimack Hall. This program brings adults with special needs together to foster social skills growth and a sense of community. We also have music and art therapy and some exercise.
While the strong sense of community at Randolph helped prepare me for community-building work, I was very unprepared for the wide range of ability levels, backgrounds, and even personalities in people with special needs even though my sister, Anna, has Down Syndrome. I wish I’d had greater contact with the special needs community in particular, but also other communities in Huntsville outside of Randolph. Interim and service trips are a great way to do this, and I’m so grateful they are a part of the curriculum, along with the more recent addition of service days. Ninety-one Randolph students just recently came to Merrimack and made a huge difference in taking care of many things we run out of time to do. I think a monthly service day where you go to the same location all year would be a great way to encourage students to find deeper connections. I wish I had chosen to make more meaningful, long-term contributions at the time.
I am looking forward to the alumni networking event at Public House (Nov 26 from 3-5 p.m.). And I’m definitely happy to talk to students about colleges or career paths, especially those who are unsure about which direction to go.
I want to invite the Randolph community to take part in Merrimack’s big fundraiser, the golf tournament, coming up on November 7, or to attend Merrimack events, volunteer, or employ individuals with special needs at your businesses. This is truly a chance to bring our two communities – Randolph and Merrimack – together to create a more inclusive Huntsville, where all people are known, challenged, and loved.