Nearly two dozen Ravenscroft alumni participated in the 2023 Alumni Career Day on Friday, Feb. 3. Joining Upper School students both in person and via Zoom, they shared insights, advice and personal reflections on their college experiences and chosen career paths.
Rich Gillespie ’96 kicked off the week on Monday, Jan. 30, with a keynote speech during the Upper School’s community time.
“I had the opportunity to talk about my career and the pathway that led me to being the medical director of robotic thoracic surgery and thoracic surgical oncology at HonorHealth in Scottsdale, Arizona. I discussed decisions relating to undergraduate education, medical school and residency,” he said. “Students had fantastic questions about work-life balance and choices that have to be made in order to achieve high-level success in such careers. We were even able to discuss the challenges in performing operations on gorillas in zoos that swallow foreign objects, and whether not you have to shave your abdomen before surgery!”
On Friday, students were able to attend multiple sessions with alumni representing careers they are interested in, ranging from the arts and education to business, law, medicine and technology.
As Upper School counselor Sam Borkovic explained, the event is part of the school’s Senior Transition to College series designed to prepare them for college and beyond. In early January, the series hosted college-aged alumni for a panel discussion about their experiences.
“The students really appreciate hearing from people who had a similar experience in the Upper School during their time and how they navigated college and their career journeys. These sessions create space for students to envision their summer internships, senior projects and course selection process,” Borkovic said. “Hearing directly from alumni who are in their field of interest also enables students to understand more of the complexities, nuances and trajectories of any given career. You may start out thinking you're a ‘science person’ then realize along the way that you actually fit into this other possibility and that there are lots of paths to success. Our students see the value of continuing to build their leadership capacities.”
Students said they found the sessions valuable for a variety of reasons.
“It was insightful to hear the perspectives of past students who are now in the work force and to hear how they were prepared for it by Ravenscroft, especially in terms of writing in college and in their jobs,” Anna Haywood ’23 said.
“My main priority was to learn more about law, a career path that I am really interested in. So, I signed up and was able to attend sessions with two of the speakers who are lawyers,” Mike Hollingshead ’23 said. “Coming into it my goal was to ask questions about not only what being a lawyer is like, but what the process of becoming a lawyer is like — for example, what kinds of classes were helpful in college, what their college path was, what the LSAT was like. It was cool because both lawyers explained such different career paths!”
Litigation and trial attorney Caroline Fish ’07 was among the speakers.
“The students in my sessions asked great questions, all across the board, such as what is my daily routine as a lawyer, what are the hours like, what classes should they take in college and what is it like to take the LSAT,” she said. “It was a very rewarding experience, and I loved hearing from the students, learning what they are interested in and sharing my thoughts about my career path.”
“The students seemed especially interested in my experience of what it’s like to be a young teacher,” Sydnie Schwarz ’16, DEI Director and high school teacher at Revolution School in Philadelphia, said. “Several of them were interested in education because of their own experiences with learning.”
“I was at Ravenscroft when I first learned computer programming in order to one day grow up and work in the videogame industry,” Todd Harris ’86, CEO of Skillshot Media and Ghost Gaming, said. “Gaming seems like a time-waster to many parents, but with the right structure, games can be a gateway to learning coding, graphic design, art or animation, as well as social-emotional skills including teamwork, resiliency and goal-setting. I enjoyed speaking at Career Day and interacting with the classroom of students interested in the gaming industry!”
“It was a really fun afternoon,” Gillespie concluded. “I enjoyed getting a chance to come back to my alma mater and speak.”
Thank you to all of the alumni who made time to participate in this important event!