Hewitt’s Lunch and Learn series invites guest speakers to campus for intimate conversations with upper school students about how to connect their current interests to possible future careers. The series welcomes speakers, including Hewitt alumnae, from a variety of professional fields, giving current students the opportunity to learn and ask questions about fields they might not have even known existed. The alumnae who speak at Lunch and Learns are confident and enthusiastic professionals who cite their relationships with teachers, involvement in clubs, and exploration of potential interests while at Hewitt with helping them to develop a sense of purpose and direction. These alumnae encourage current students to think about how their experiences at school are helping to shape their futures. For our second alumnae Lunch and Learn, I invited Sydney Sadick ’12 to speak to Hewitt students about her work in journalism as an on-air fashion and lifestyle expert.
Sydney graduated from Hewitt in 2012 and earned her B.A. from George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs in 2016. As a journalist and television correspondent covering the fashion industry, Sydney interviews inspirational influencers, celebrities, politicians, and designers. She has reported on New York Fashion Week, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual gala, and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) awards. Throughout our Lunch and Learn conversation, Sydney captured her audience’s attention, connecting personally to each student and revealing her bold and confident personality.
Sydney spoke with us about how the guidance and support she received at Hewitt gave her the proper space to explore new interests and activities. She noted that Hewitt’s faculty members showed her how essential strong writing skills would be to expressing herself and her interests in a way that engaged her audience, and remarked on how the Hewitt community, and in particular the encouragement of her teachers, helped her build and maintain her confidence. Sydney was able to rely on the strong sense of self she developed at Hewitt as she transitioned from print journalism to on-air entertainment reporting, and she reflected on two things that help her engage her interview subjects and connect with her audience: self-assurance and the ability to be comfortable with discomfort.
Sydney’s interest in the fashion industry began at a young age, but she saw how it could become a potential career during the summer after her junior year of high school, when she attended Harvard University’s pre-college program. While taking two college-level journalism courses, Sydney was given an assignment to start a blog. She immediately loved this form of self-expression, and continued blogging even after the program ended.
While studying journalism and mass communications at George Washington University, Sydney held an internship with fashion-industry publication The Daily Front Row, which ultimately led to an eight-year position at the company. Thanks to her skill and expertise in writing articles, conducting interviews, and filming segments for several television programs—including The Today Show and E!News—her opportunities to cover fashion industry events multiplied. Sydney’s knowledgeable reporting and ability to engage audiences with her lively personality has also led to an exciting new endeavor. In her new book, Aim High: How to Style Your Life and Achieve Your Goals, Sydney writes about the complex ways clothing and style impact one’s own sense of self.
One particularly interesting moment of the Lunch and Learn came when Sydney talked about what it means to dress ‘professionally’ and how clothing and personal style can be both a source of empowerment and confusion for women. Sydney and Head of School Dr. Tara Christie Kinsey, who was in the audience, both spoke about the shared consciousness among professional women about what messages their clothing sends, and the stereotype that women cannot be fashionable and capable at the same time. Their conversation about how a woman’s clothing is perceived by others was especially interesting for the audience of Hewitt students.
At Hewitt, students and teachers participate in ongoing conversations about the advantages and disadvantages of our school’s required uniform. On the one hand, uniforms create an even playing field for all students. They minimize comments about appearances or the cost of specific items and reduce the hassle of choosing what to wear in the morning. On the other hand, a uniform that requires every student to wear the same skirt and top is not going to be comfortable or flattering for everyone and may unintentionally reinforce traditional gender norms. Sydney hopes her work in journalism and forthcoming publication will help change the narrative around the pressure women feel about how they dress and what their clothing choices say about them, and I think she would be proud to know that upper schoolers are taking action to make our school uniform feel more inclusive and comfortable for all Hewitt students.
Throughout the Lunch and Learn session, Sydney reminded us that her experiences as a Hewitt student taught her to embrace discomfort, work diligently, and strive for personal and professional satisfaction. She encouraged her audience of upper school students to take advantage of the many opportunities we will have to discover our interests at Hewitt and beyond, and reminded us that with preparation and research, we will feel confident, knowledgeable, and able to successfully complete any challenges we face.