“It’s really comforting to see all these Holton faces after being isolated for such a long time!” Kelly O’Connor ’19 said after joining the Young Alumnae Panel Zoom to a grid of her past teachers, fellow alums, and current students.
Nearly 20 alumnae joined the Upper School for the annual Young Alumnae Panel on Friday, Jan. 8, held for the first time on Zoom. Despite the new event format and all the challenges, changes, and uncertainties the past few months have brought, the graduates—who now attend schools ranging from American University to Vanderbilt—gave excellent insight into what the future holds for Holton girls and advice on how to navigate the transition to life beyond River Road.
Many of the speakers highlighted tips and tricks for college and beyond:
- Gillian Hutter ’17 spoke about focusing on the quality rather than quantity of activities one participates in during college and focusing one’s efforts where one really wants to advance. She said, “I ended up managing a lab. How did I do that? I just put in the work.”
- Maddie Myers ’20 reflected on her first semester at UVA. She advises her peers to “definitely go to office hours… Make sure to participate, raise your hand, ask a lot of questions, and don’t be afraid to be wrong.”
- Yasmeen Alamdeen ’17 encourages college freshmen to “be bold” in college: put yourself out there, try something new to get involved, and speak up for yourself.
- Morgan Abdo ’18 encouraged her peers to keep speaking up and raising their hands, just like they do at Holton. In her college classes, she found she was one of the few women who did so, and she’s proud of and has benefitted from it.
Other alumnae guests spoke to how Holton impacted them and in what ways they are still connected to the community:
- Rinnie Hewlett ’17 said, “In terms of writing, I felt very prepared by Holton,” a common theme among the speakers.
- Anastasia Frazier ’20 commented, “Holton has given me the confidence to introduce myself to my teachers,” a very useful skill to have during her first semester at Syracuse.
- Caroline Cascio ’19 admitted that she really misses the Holton sisterhood and is joining Greek life to form more female friendships, “but the Holton sisterhood is so strong even that can’t replace it.”
- Elise Knutsen ’19 reflected on her Holton experience and said, “after you get out of Holton, you realize what a unique place Holton is.”
- Ariana Soltany ’17 will be graduating from Tulane University this spring. She is interested in digital marketing and film and plans on using her Holton connections. She said, “I’m definitely going to use Holton as a resource to find jobs for sure. Especially in this area and all over the country, there’s always someone out there that has some kind of connection or can network for you and can help you in that sense. It’s definitely good to stay connected.”
Sarah Griesdorf ’17 left her group with this advice: “Lean into the sisterhood! Female friendships are the best kind of friendships and try to recreate that. I think people spend a lot of time in college worrying about what other people think of them, but the truth is everybody only cares about themselves…just pursue the things that make you happy.” Sarah graduated from Boston University and is currently the CEO & Co-Founder of Holdette, a women’s clothing line with pockets!
After about an hour of questions, advice, and catching up, Upper School students left the Zoom call with a better understanding of not only the ways Holton prepares graduates for college and what college looks like right now, as well as new ideas and tools for taking on this next challenge.