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Ten Years Out: Alumnae Panelists Offer Advice

Assembling in the Gordon Room, the Upper School students were eager to hear from the six young women seated in front of them. These special guests, a group of accomplished Chapin alumnae from the Class of 2009, returned to 100 East End Avenue on May 21 to talk about their decade of diverse experiences and to impart no shortage of valuable advice to their younger Chapin “sisters.”

Moderated by Director of Academic Program (and Chapin alumna) Ilana Pergam ’86, the morning conversation centered on the educational and career paths of alumnae Caroline Friedman, Charlotte Japp, Sherina Jardine, Chandler Lusardi, Rachel Siegfried and Mary Weng*. In fields including medicine, finance, business and entrepreneurship, each is making her distinct mark on the world.

Speaking with confidence, warmth and passion, the panelists began by introducing themselves and offering snapshots of their impressive professional lives. Through Ms. Pergam’s thoughtful questions, the students learned about these exemplary individuals and the ways in which Chapin continues to serve as a touchstone for their personal and professional growth. Here are highlights from the vibrant discussion:    

What lessons from Chapin did you carry with you through college and beyond?

“Always ask questions.”

“Try everything. Chapin is an amazing testing ground. Explore your passions and follow your curiosity.”

“Ask Chapin alumnae and others for help.”

“Consider a gap year.”

“Appreciate how well-rounded you are.”

“Keep an open mind.”

“Be your own advocate and know your worth.”

“Learn to ask for what you want, including salary.”

“Transparency is key.”

Can you share advice about failures, regrets or mistakes?

“Don’t compare yourself to others.”

“When I didn’t get into the Mountain School, I was devastated, but I think everything happens for a reason.”

“Try to understand why something didn’t work out and learn from it.”

“Keep failing. It hurts less [as time goes by] and helps develop resilience. Try to focus on the lesson.”

“Be open and flexible. I lived with my parents for four years after graduating from college. That experience inspired me to start my company.”

“Sometimes I wondered why I wasn’t good enough. But then I reminded myself that medical school is incredibly hard.”

“Seek out a strong support network.”

What does “successful” look like to you?

“Success is more than a job. It’s being able to do things you love like seeing friends and working out. Find companies that support that balance.”

“Helping others.”

“I find fulfillment through my effect on other people. I received a letter from a girl in the pediatric intensive care unit that said ‘Thank you for being my doctor and my friend.’"

“What do you want Chapin students to know about the real world?”

“Knowing about finances is very important.”

“Seek therapy and other emotional help.”

“Take the initiative to make plans and keep your body healthy.”

“No job is a custom fit. You must learn to adapt.”

By all appearances, the Upper Schoolers were engaged and energized by this helpful presentation. Several even stayed behind to ask follow-up questions of these exemplary alumnae who delighted in the chance to impart knowledge and to continue to make Chapin proud.

“It was so wonderful to be back at Chapin today!” Mary Weng commented in a follow up note. “I wish you could have seen the view from where we were sitting. Behind all the Upper School girls, in our direct line of vision, was a wall of our former Chapin teachers and faculty beaming at us. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the role you have played in our lives, for being some of our first supporters and role models, and for creating such a loving environment where we could be ourselves and find our voices. I know I wouldn't be the person I am today without help from each and every one of you.”

*Class of 2009 Panelists

A graduate of Williams College, Caroline Friedman completed studies at Columbia Business School this spring and will join American Express to work in product management on the commercial side of the business.

Charlotte Japp is a New York City-based creative director and founder of CIRKEL, a multi-generational networking and career development platform. She graduated from Georgetown University and also works as a Senior Creative at Live Nation, the live music and ticketing company.

Sherina Jardine is currently an account manager at Bloomberg L.P., covering hedge funds in New York. After graduating from Yale University, she has cultivated a diverse skill set within the corporate, non-profit and campaign arenas.

After graduating from Amherst College, Chandler Lusardi taught at Success Academy Charter School and earned a Master of Education degree from Touro University. Now a financial advisor at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, she will enroll at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth University in the fall.

Rachel Siegfried, a Cornell University graduate, is pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Long Island University-Brooklyn. After completing rotations at LIU Brooklyn’s Psychological Services and at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, she is finishing up a rotation at Mount Sinai’s World Trade Center Health Program.

Mary Weng earned a bachelor’s of science and a Master of Public Health from Yale University. She is graduating from Stony Brook School of Medicine this spring and will begin her residency in pediatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital in July. 

Browse photos from the panel below: