I came to Hewitt in the ninth grade, and I don’t think my middle school self would recognize the present-day me. I spent much of my sophomore year organizing our alumnae Lunch and Lunch series, which invites guest speakers to campus for intimate conversations with upper school students about how to connect their current interests to possible future careers, and as I begin eleventh grade, I see firsthand how Hewitt's uplifting community and supportive environment have helped me recognize my greatest assets and challenged me to step out of my comfort zone. As a member of the Hewitt community I feel empowered every day, and every part of the work I have done to organize our alumnae Lunch and Learn events — reaching out to graduates and inviting them to be speakers, facilitating conversations that are designed to inspire current students, and publishing recaps of each event — has happened with the support of my teachers and my classmates. To conclude the 2019-2020 alumnae Lunch and Learn series, I wanted to reflect on the experience of confronting my fears, embracing my discomfort, and building my confidence.
In my role as student organizer of our alumnae Lunch and Learn events, I am responsible for inviting alumnae to speak to current upper school students about their experiences at Hewitt, their transition to college, and their career paths. I aim to maximize student attendance and engagement during each talk, and to do that, I have learned how to listen intently to my peers to understand which professions they find intriguing. This close listening, along with the ability to work with my peers and teachers to make compromises, ensures that I am inviting alumnae who work in fields that appeal to my fellow students. I know that my ability to listen to my audience and collaborate with teachers and students are valuable skills that will come in handy when I need to make challenging decisions or manage projects of all kinds in the future.
Throughout the 2019-2020 school year, I challenged myself to put my nerves and discomfort aside and speak purposefully to individuals and audiences. I contacted alumnae directly, which frightened me at first because I did not know the people I was emailing or if they were going to respond. I also spoke in front of the entire upper school at town meetings, sent grade-wide emails encouraging my peers to attend these discussions, and introduced and interviewed each Lunch and Learn speaker. All of this felt daunting and unfamiliar in the moment but became easier with time and practice. Each time I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, I learned that my teachers and peers wanted — and would do anything — to see me succeed. They certainly encouraged my participation in classes, but their support beyond class empowered me to embrace my mistakes while I worked to develop my public speaking and leadership skills.
The experience of designing, organizing, and hosting our alumnae Lunch and Learn series has taught me about leadership inside and outside of the Hewitt community. Despite working in different industries and pursuing different passions, all of the alumnae who spoke this past year are women who lead with empathy, resilience, and strength. They are leaders who dedicate their time to making the world more accessible for others. Whether mentoring younger students, giving voice to diverse playwrights, inspiring women to build confidence through their personal style choices, or working to provide medical technology and training to under-resourced hospitals, these women have inspired me to think differently about leadership and envision myself as a leader who, true to Hewitt’s values, prioritizes helping others, takes advantage of opportunities, and embraces discomfort to better a system, an industry, or the world.
As the 2019-2020 school year ended in the midst of a global pandemic and the summer months passed in self-isolation, I found myself, along with many others in the Hewitt community and much of the world, contemplating ways to improve myself and examining my way of life. I recognized how my privilege allowed me to experience the pandemic as a time for self-reflection and considered how many people — particularly those who we rely on to keep Hewitt, the city, and the world running smoothly — experienced this time very differently. As I followed news about the pandemic, the nationwide protests against police brutality, and the upcoming election, I found myself thinking a lot about my contributions to our school and how much I wanted to make the work I’m doing at Hewitt feel purposeful and relevant to the world.
As I reflect on what I have learned about myself at Hewitt and what I have learned about the world from Hewitt alumnae, I am eager to turn my attention toward a new school year with a new set of goals. During the 2020-2021 year, I am excited to expand the reach of our alumnae Lunch and Learn series to include a more diverse range of voices. Since becoming a member of the upper school at Hewitt, I have seen firsthand how this community helps students recognize our own potential, and this year, it is my goal to make sure that every young woman at Hewitt sees herself represented in the alumnae who come back to speak. I know how important representation is for young women and I hope that, inspired by the alumnae who return to visit, my peers will be motivated to do work that is influential and changes the world for the better.