On the surface, Audrey Beattie’s day looks just as pedestrian as almost everyone else’s seems to during the pandemic. Each morning, Audrey wakes up in her Colorado home, perhaps takes a jog or walks her housemate’s golden retriever, then, after a strong cup of coffee, she settles into some long hours sitting in front of a computer screen.
Such is life in 2021.
That prosaic image, however, belies her exciting, decidedly 21st-century research and work: the environmental and economic impact of alternative fuels and their production.
A St. Mary’s alumna (class of 2015), Audrey is in the final stages of completing her Master’s thesis in mechanical engineering at Colorado State University. As a contributor to a multidisciplinary, university-wide consortium called the Energy Institute, she is knee-deep every day in stats, figures, dollar amounts, and multi-tab spreadsheets, helping the Institute determine the environmental impact and economic feasibility of converting algae to a usable fuel source. Audrey’s particular role and burgeoning expertise is in building data-driven models to determine the hows, whys, what-ifs, and costs of scaling up fuel-conversion science labs, like one at Arizona State University, a partner school in this ambitious, long term project.
In many ways, Audrey’s work is the embodiment of a 21st-century career. In order to do it well, she’s had to become an expert in big data analytics, not just gathering and scrutinizing data sets provided almost weekly by her partners in Arizona, but then using that data to project what that sort of production would look like on a much larger scale. She then must take the models she has created and distill them to clear, digestible presentations so that they can be understood by everyone from biochemists to economists to writers to future policymakers spread across all nine colleges at the university. There’s no doubt that her work requires critical thought, creativity, collaboration, and communication--the very skills identified as the 4 C’s of the 21st-century workplace and classroom.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Audrey over Zoom. As her former American Literature teacher, I was quickly reminded of just how energetic, intelligent, articulate, and funny she is. She was quick to point out how valuable St. Mary’s was in preparing her for success. In high school, she took an immediate interest in her math and science courses, but not necessarily for the reason one might expect: “Because they were hard,” Audrey said. In particular, she cited Peter St. Onge’s notorious AP Calculus class, and his no-nonsense approach to teaching it, as being instrumental in her development. Audrey put it bluntly: “He demanded a lot and took no crap.” She has long fed off such academic challenges, taking great satisfaction in using patience, determination, and grit to arrive at the correct answer. She shared an anecdote about some of her undergraduate engineering classmates at the University of Portland who claimed they didn’t feel challenged by some of the material until upper level classes in their senior year. She gave a self-deprecating chuckle, and then reminisced, “Oh, really? It’s always been hard for me!”
Audrey indicated that it wasn’t just the St. Onge experience that helped shape her. She said that she learned about working across multiple disciplines, participating on a team, and utilizing a variety of soft skills on Mr. Romer’s popular “Zombie Island” project, which requires AP Environmental Science students to develop a sustainable plan for natural foods, potable water, and rudimentary housing, all the while being hypothetically hemmed in by a salty ocean and under attack by the walking dead. Ultimately, however, she said it is the comprehensive education that St. Mary’s provided that she is most thankful for. She said she wouldn’t be where she is without learning everything from the fine arts to ancient history to American literature.
Although she graduated before St. Mary’s sea shift to a modular schedule and an innovative curriculum based on choice, she is very familiar with both. She heard plenty from younger brother John, class of 2020, who shared all of the program’s benefits, including the framework that allows for annual curriculum additions that respond to an ever-evolving world and reflect teachers’ own personal and scholarly passions.
Audrey was thrilled to hear about St. Mary’s nascent engineering program, clearly articulated programming and coding tracks, CAD offerings, the robotics program, and of course, the practical yet inspiring campus addition of nine STEM labs in the Carrico Center. She is particularly excited about the Women in STEM classes that are being offered. As one of the only women in her master’s classes and lab group, she knows the importance of encouraging women to pursue STEM early and seeing them succeed. "I would not be where I am today if it weren't for an incredible female mentor I had in my undergrad, Dr. Dillon. Her encouragement and guidance is what gave me the confidence to pursue graduate school in the first place." This mentorship is right in line with an idea that Audrey believes to her core: “If you see it, you can be it.” On top of all this, she loves that kids still learn about the beauty of a Shakespearean sonnet and how to write a research paper. She says that communicating effectively is a key skill in any field, including the sciences. In commenting on the school’s role in preparing students for tomorrow’s workforce, Audrey said what we already know: “St. Mary’s is definitely going in the right direction.”
This spring Audrey will complete her thesis defense and then complete a highly sought-after internship with the U.S. Department of Energy this summer. Due to COVID, it hasn’t been determined whether that internship will be in Washington D.C., as is normally the case, or if it will be remote. Regardless, Audrey believes it will be another valuable experience in her professional and academic growth. She has some good leads for employment following her internship--perhaps research, perhaps consulting--but she hopes to stay in Colorado, or at least west of the Mississippi. She doesn’t want to stray too far from the people and places that helped her get to this point...even if “this point” is sitting in front of a computer screen.
While St. Mary’s students don’t have to be a rocket scientist in order to successfully graduate, they can go on to become a successful rocket scientist.
That’s the path that alumnus Brian Kirkpatrick (‘03) has taken.
Well, sort of.
“If the term ‘rocket scientist’ applies to me then it doesn’t mean much anymore,” says Kirkpatrick. “There are probably only a few people alive today who still deserve that title and I’m not one of them.”
“I won’t refer to you as a rocket scientist then,” I say, which will turn out to be sort of a white lie.
We’re chatting via Zoom not just because we’re living in physically-distantanced COVID times but because Kirkpatrick lives some 700 miles to the south in Tustin, California with his wife and three children: two daughters ages 6 and 10 and a 21-month old son.
Kirkpatrick received a B.S. Engineering from Harvey Mudd in 2007 and a M.S. Aerospace Engineering from Cal Poly in 2010.
He’s a humble guy, but those two specific degrees from those prestigious universities alone make him a rocket scientist in my book.
Kirkpatrick’s interest in rockets goes all the way back to his childhood.
“Every kid goes through a ‘I want to be a police officer, I want to be a firefighter’ phase,” he says. “I always wanted to do something that had to do with space—astronaut if possible, but really anything related to space.”
He began building and launching model rockets while in Boy Scouts, where he eventually earned the highest achievement of Eagle Scout.
But his interest in building rockets really took off at St. Mary’s when he and classmate Michael Fiddler discovered a common interest and began building model rockets together.
“I was always a pretty introverted nerd, but when I started at St. Mary’s I found other people who were nerdy like me and was able to form a group of friends,” Kirkpatrick says.
Kirkpatrick and Fiddler built model rockets with class C, D, and E engines. Low-power model rocket motors are classified A-E with E being the most powerful while F and G motors are considered mid-power and H and above are high-powered.
“Of course you couldn’t just order kits off of Amazon at the time. We had to get them from hobby shops, which were limited,” Kirkpatrick recalls. “So we got the kits we could and put them together.”
After graduating from St. Mary’s, Kirkpatrick graduated to building and launching higher powered rockets at Harvey Mudd where he was the founding president of the Mudd Amateur Rocketry Club (MARC). Today, MARC is going strong with 40 members who regularly build rockets in the “Mudd Makerspace” and hold monthly rocket launch events.
Kirkpatrick was inspired to start MARC after a trip to the High Desert to watch the Rocketry Organization of California launch amateur high-powered rockets.
“These guys, some of whom worked at JPL [the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory] and were doing this for fun in their spare time, were unloading 12-foot high rockets that they built in their garages from vacuum-sealed fiberglass,” Kirkpatrick recalls. “To launch them, they had to put them up on rails hundreds of feet away from the crowd that was watching then call the FAA to request flight clearance for a rocket that was going to go above 10,000 feet.”
These homemade rockets had high-powered class N and above hybrid motors that used liquid nitrous oxide as the oxidizer in the fuel, Kirkpatrick explains.
“After watching that, I thought, ‘This—this is what I want to do!’ And that’s when I decided we had to start a rocket club and do the real thing.”
Building and launching rockets was fun, but being an engineering student at Harvey Mudd was stressful.
“I struggled for four years trying to drink from that fire hydrant. I can’t imagine how I would have been able to handle that if I hadn’t gone to St. Mary’s,” says Kirkpatrick. “I don’t think I’d have been able to get through that if St. Mary’s hadn’t prepared me.”
When I ask what his favorite courses were at St. Mary’s, he doesn’t even hesitate to think about it before responding.
“The easy answer is any class taught by Mr. St. Onge,” he says. “He’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. He was a big influence on me.”
One of those favorite courses taught by Peter St. Onge was Computer Programming and the other, Game Programming, was a brand new course St. Onge had created.
“There were only 3 or 4 students in that class,” recalls Kirkpatrick. “We were all members of the LANsters so we were trying to code our own games.”
The LANsters were a group of student gamers.
“We called ourselves the ‘LANsters’ because we would hold LAN parties and play computer games all night about once a month,” explains Kirkpatrick.
LAN stands for “Local Area Network” and it was the only way to play multiplayer computer games like Counter-Strike back before high-speed Internet connectivity became ubiquitous.
That Game Programming course along with Computer Programming would be pivotal to Kirkpatrick’s future career in aerospace engineering.
He would not go on to become an astronaut nor a “rocket scientist” by his own stringent definition.
Kirkpatrick is an aerospace systems engineer. Currently, he is a Senior Systems Engineer at ExoAnalytic Solutions, which, among other things, operates the world’s largest global telescope network providing “unmatched availability, persistence, quality, and timeliness of data for defense, intelligence, and commercial satellite operators,” according to the company’s website.
Or, as Kirpatrick simply puts it on his resume, “We help a plethora of customers figure out what the hell is going on with their space stuff.”
“Systems engineering is interesting because it tries to abstract every other field of engineering in a way that you can simply handle, model, and manipulate arbitrary systems based on the properties of the models you have for them,” Kirkpatrick explains. “My particular job is mostly modeling and simulation, which is basically trying to predict what will happen with space systems in code.”
Systems engineers like Kirkpatrick may not be classified as “rocket scientists” but we count on their brilliance and ingenuity every day to help ensure that complex systems work the way they’re supposed to work so that multi-billion dollar missions like NASA’s recent Perseverance mission to Mars don’t fail.
I ask him if he thinks there will be a human mission to Mars in our lifetime.
“Yes,” he immediately says, then pauses before elaborating.
“Okay, so let’s stare into the crystal ball here. Permanent lunar orbit or lunar surface colony maybe by 2030 with the right amount of investment,” he says. “First return mission to Mars will happen around the same time or a couple years later. But that’s a samples return mission, which, if you can’t even return samples, good luck returning any humans!”
“First manned mission to Mars? Probably 25 to 35 years from now depending on whether you want to do a one-way or a two-way trip.”
Whether or not Kirkpatrick’s predictions come to fruition will depend on a lot of unpredictable variables. But as we slide out of the chaos of 2020, there’s one variable I’m certain of: education will increasingly be crucial to our success or failure—not just in our efforts to explore our solar system and beyond, but to make the most of what we have right here on starship Earth.
Today at St. Mary’s, we tell our students: “You set the path. We’ll help you get there.” It’s a fairly new slogan, but it has sprouted from the much older roots of the school’s tradition and mission.
Many things have changed at St. Mary’s since Kirkpatrick graduated nearly 20 years ago now. We have new buildings, including a STEM center with a makerspace and robotics lab that I’m certain Kirkpatrick would have loved. We have campus-wide high-speed wireless Internet connectivity with teachers and students connected to a wealth of online knowledge, courses, and other educational resources. We have a robust international program with students attending St. Mary’s from around the globe. We have a plethora of new course offerings and options for students to choose from with our innovative “St. Mary’s 2.0 Module System” that we launched several years ago.
These are all great developments. And while they have changed the face of education at St. Mary’s, they have not changed its heart: that connection between student and teacher in a tightly knit learning community that can have a profound effect in helping a student find his or her path, whether that be working to make the world a better place right here on Earth or launching rockets into space to explore the heavens.
Scott Dewing is the Director of Technology at St. Mary’s School. He also teaches computer science and other technology-related courses.
In the photo on my desktop, twelve-year-old Emma is fast asleep in her new St. Mary’s beanie, surrounded by stuffed animals. She’d received her St. Mary’s admission letter and swag that afternoon, and she wore that beanie for days afterward. As she and I chatted on Zoom the other day, I was struck by how much St. Mary’s helped set her on the extraordinary path she’s chosen. She’s grown from an eager, excited sixth grader into a formidable young woman who’s working on projects that could change how we interface with the digital world.
Emma entered St. Mary’s in sixth grade: after years of homeschooling, she was ready to spread her wings at the school her grandmother, Barbara Callaway, had told her so much about. Today, Emma has a hard time settling on a single St. Mary’s memory that stands out. Ski & Snowboard was great fun because she got to ski with her friends. She liked Game Club and Brainbowl, too, because she was with friends. Favorite class? No hesitation there: Latin, largely because of her classmates and because of Mr. Phillips: “We goofed off but also learned a lot -- it was one of those times when you could do both.”
Emma’s high school days were always packed. “I was with a really great group of people. It was challenging to be split between the two communities [St. Mary’s and her online school] and ballet. I realized how special St. Mary’s was, and I wish I could have done more.” Despite that, her advice to up-and-coming students is to take full advantage: take more math, more computer science! “I wish I’d done more to keep all the options open.”
After graduating from St. Mary’s, Emma studied at Stanford, spent a quarter at Oxford University, danced with and directed Stanford’s ballet company, and minored in history. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi, she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science at Stanford and is now pursuing a PhD in computer science at UC Berkeley. With all of that under her belt, I figured I’d get an intriguing answer when I asked her about the most interesting thing she’d done thus far. Without hesitation, she answered: “I got a puppy! It’s been absolutely fantastic. I did all the prep, and I learned that no amount of prep can prepare you for the experience of having a puppy.” Muffin the corgi is a lucky pup indeed!
Endless adventures with Muffin notwithstanding, Emma has had some phenomenal research experiences. She’s part of the UC Berkeley Real-Time Intelligent Secure Explainable Systems (RISE) lab in her second PhD year. She’s published three papers and has presented her work at Stanford, Berkeley, Google, DropBox, and Cloudflare. She shared her work on 2-factor authentication at the recent Fast Identity Online (FIDO) Standards Body meeting, where she connected with security leaders in both industry and academia. She’s a National Science Foundation (NSF) research fellow and a Microsoft Ada Lovelace research fellow. She also works with UC Berkeley’s Diversifying Access to Research in Engineering (DARE) program: the world of research can be difficult to navigate, especially for women, minorities, and first-generation college students, and Emma is committed to “helping open doors for people.”
When I asked her about challenges and failures, she pointed out that academia is full of rejections. “When you’re trying to get published, sometimes you’ll get less great reviews. . . . Being able to take constructive criticism and not take it too personally and use it as a way to improve your work and move forward is a valuable skill that I’m always working on.” Being a woman in a male-dominated field, Emma said she sometimes feels like she’s there by mistake. Having some success has helped her overcome her insecurities, though; everyone gets confused sometimes, she said, and the important thing is always to ask your questions. She’s also learned that she has to believe in her own ideas so she can successfully share them with others.
She’s also been fortunate to have mentors who believe in her. “Raluca [UC Berkeley professor Raluca Ada Popa] and Ion [UC Berkeley professor Ion Stoica] are always there for me,” she says, “for help or for advice, and they always tell me when they think an idea is good or when an idea is bad without making me feel bad.” Emma is also grateful for the continued support of her Stanford mentors, Henry Corrigan-Gibbs, now at MIT, and Professor David Mazières. Above all, she values “having people in your court who will look out for you and who will believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself.”
Looking forward, Emma explained that St. Mary’s mission to “inspire responsible global, national, and local citizens” reflects her own guiding principles. “Having a framework for thinking about not just your work but also how that fits into the larger world has been really important, especially in computer security, where you constantly have to think about the ethical implications of the work that you’re doing, and thinking about the type of world you want to enable through the technology that you’re building. You can’t be just ethical or just technical: you have to think about both sides all the time.”
Emma hopes to build systems that provide stronger security and more privacy. “There’s definitely a lot of tech around making money,” she said, “and privacy is in some ways antithetical to that because if a company doesn’t get your data, then they can’t run their AI algorithms on it, so you don’t see a lot about privacy these days, but it’s really important.” The best way to realize her goals, she thinks, is in academia; research gives her the freedom to pursue projects that may not have making money as their ultimate goal. She’s also strongly committed to teaching and mentoring and in particular reaching out to women and to other groups that are currently underrepresented in technical fields.
St. Mary’s gave Emma a strong foundation, and it will be exciting to see where her many projects, pursuits, and passions take her.
“What we need to do is always lean into the future; when the world changes around you and when it changes against you – what used to be a tailwind is now a headwind – you have to lean into that and figure out what to do because complaining isn’t a strategy.” – Jeff Bezos (Founder and CEO of Amazon)
Patrick Gahr, a graduate of St Mary’s class of 2004, has found his niche. Twice. Today, he works as a manager in the Human Resources department at Amazon, where he is a domestic leader of the global team that helps Amazon to remain successfully “customer obsessed,” because he and his team are “employee obsessed.” Patrick’s personal success story, however, involves a twist: after he purposefully headed off in one distinct direction, toward a career in international politics, he suddenly found himself working in a totally different, yet inherently satisfying, career capacity. While Patrick’s story might be seen as just another prudent reminder about the importance of critical thinking and ongoing education, about following the advice of mentors, and being proactive when it comes to finding one’s career path, it also offers priceless advice about navigating in the ocean of career opportunities in the twenty-first century, where purposeful immersion into challenging situations, the maintenance of a global orientation, and the willingness to adapt are the key ingredients in the all-important journey of both a company and the ‘self’ who is fruitfully engaged in that corporate endeavor.
From May through November of 2011, Patrick Gahr was just beginning to hit his stride: he was living in Geneva, Switzerland and doing important work for the United Nations, analyzing policy, conducting research, and assisting with speechwriting for the Biological Weapons Convention Implementation Support Unit. And Patrick had worked hard to get his name on a badge and grace those hallowed halls of the Palais des Nations: after graduating from St. Mary’s, he attended Seattle University, earning a BA in International Studies and Japanese Language, with brief stints of cultural immersion and study in Argentina and Japan, where he undertook intensive Spanish and Japanese language instruction. Inspired by both his undergraduate studies and his extracurricular involvement with Model U.N, the SU Interfaith Council, and International Club, Patrick applied and was accepted to be a teacher and cultural ambassador in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET), spending two years in the village of Takayama, Japan. To cap off his education, Patrick then struck out for the Emerald Isle, attending Dublin, Ireland’s esteemed Trinity College, where he earned a Masters In Philosophy in International Peace Studies as a Rotary Ambassador Scholar and served on the Interim Committee for the Irish School of Ecumenics. Patrick, it seems, had paid his educational dues and found his niche.
But when the United Nations’ mission was accomplished, the wind changed direction: “The UN has these rules in place that you can’t hire interns for six months. It’s a very bureaucratic process, for reasons that are good. And so I had to come back to the United States and look into the career aspect.”
Patrick arrived in Washington, D.C. as the city was emerging from the Great Recession and began a career search. He found a very rich environment with lots of high-powered political “exposure,” but with limited paid possibilities. After working as a Project Coordinator for the US-Japanese Research Institute, Patrick came face to face with another uncomfortable and indisputable fact: his expenses and work compensation had not achieved an amicable sustainability. So he was forced to “regroup and retarget” before choosing to move back to Seattle, a city that had achieved a reputation as a fertile hub for the “new economy” companies of the internet and clean technology.
Today, Gahr credits this stage of his career with teaching him a powerful, perhaps regret-tinged, lesson: any career builder who is seriously interested in living in a certain location, and finding his “niche” more quickly, ought to be open to a job that will provide a stable source of income, even if it means working in a more menial job. With a more stable financial footing, Gahr counsels, one can afford to be highly discriminating while in the stress-inducing hiring process. His advice to those in such a position is to remember that choosing a career is you “interviewing that company and opportunity,” just as much as an interview of your skills and qualifications. “You shouldn’t just take a career job because you need money to pay for your living.”
Interviewer: “So, how does a guy with your background (in international policy) end up working for Amazon, a global company that sells products and services?”
Gahr (laughing): “That’s a good question, and honestly it comes with a struggle. I’ll be completely honest on how it happened and say that I had no intention to work for this company.”
Leaning into the Future:
Gahr, who now works in a business capacity for Amazon’s Human Resources department, overseeing a team who move employees from one role to another role through partnering, compensation, relocation, and immigration, regards himself as a “low risk (Amazon) hire,” having been brought onboard for a temporary position by a hiring manager who saw the U.N. credential on his resume and thought, “This is too interesting to pass up.” Gahr’s thoughts on the matter were similar: ‘There is something of value here at Amazon, and I am going to find it.’
Patrick immediately found the environment at Amazon to be “harmonious,” productive, and human development-oriented. He credits Amazon’s success with its willingness to constantly court change, that no corporate policy or business practice is written in stone, for improvement and efficiency can only come about through constant innovation. Amazon, he shares, has built upon and leveraged several methodologies for continuous improvement, from the Six Sigma model to the “system kaizen” (continuous improvement) approach of successful Japanese corporations. Since coming on board, Gahr has been promoted twice, earned a certification to be a Project Manager through Agile, and found his present-day niche within the company that he now describes as “hard to leave.”
Patrick, likewise, credits his own ability to thrive in such a dynamic atmosphere with his earlier foreign travel experiences and wanderlust, the roots of which were fostered at St. Mary’s by a diverse curriculum and faculty who maintained an outward-looking and, even, global perspective: “You have to walk the path and see for yourself what troubles you are going to have, and you’re going to have them, but you just need to face them, and come at them in such a way that you are going to gain some experience.” While Patrick looks forward, in a post-Covid future, to seeking fresh foreign travel immersion challenges, his past foreign travel and international studies have done more than just prepare him for a volatile marketplace, they increased his empathy for others in the human family who, he recognizes, are seeking peace and prosperity, truth and harmony, and “know the value of aspiration.”
With a sister and parents who still reside in nearby Ashland, Patrick periodically pays a visit to the Rogue Valley, where is excited for his alma mater’s recent adoption of the MOD-based calendar and expanded class offerings, particularly in the area of robotics. He laughed when he shared that Amazon has a policy requiring all business proposals to be written in prose, rather than offered in a PowerPoint format, suggesting that his high school and university experience had more than prepared him for the rigors of this style of creating company policies.
While it might seem odd that Patrick Gahr set off on a career in international politics and ended up working in the HR division of a rapidly expanding global company with 1.3 million employees, Patrick is quick to point out that his efforts at using critical thinking, technological tools, and his team of international colleagues to improve the efficiency and standardization of staffing, resourcing, equity, talent acquisition, and talent placement for new business launches are very much akin to the path of international politics that he originally trod, especially in this time of Covid-19. In order for Amazon to meet its objective to be the world’s most customer-centric company, it takes the talents of many employees like Patrick Gahr, whose “product is people,” to lean into a future in which the winds will constantly be changing direction.
It is a special pleasure to share some parental reflections on Kelsey’s quiet path teenage stampede through St. Mary’s.
Father’s highlight: as just a freshman, Kelsey was asked to captain the varsity soccer team and serve as starting point guard on the varsity basketball team-- responsibilities she would go on to fill all four years.
Father’s lowlight: as just a freshman, Kelsey was asked to be courted like the “Bachelorette” by seniors vying for the coveted title of Mr. St Mary’s for that fund raising contest.
Mother’s personal highlight: junior and senior year, Kelsey magically tied for first place in the regional math finals with her twin brother, Bay.
Mother’s personal lowlight: Kelsey never took Victorian Literature with Al Hunter; the literary mistake of her academic career.
Coach Dave Potter of the women’s soccer team describes Kelsey as “the kind of inspirational player you hope to work with once in a career.” Her brother Bay describes her as “the kind of inspirational twin sister you can forgive for being tragically more athletic, more popular and more socially-adjusted”.
Whether choreographing the boy’s charity dance pageant, playing sports, studying late night calculus, or shepherding her younger classmates through swine-flu quarantine in China (more drama for her parents) while teaching them the infamous YouTube China SMS Quarantine Thriller dance while fully masked, Kelsey was preparing herself for a life of values-driven leadership and intellectual achievement. We are ever thankful for her time at St. Marys and the foundations that the community provided her.
Kelsey graduated in 2009 as Salutatorian and recipient of the faculty’s award for Student of the Year. She studied Economics at Claremont McKenna College, and her most recent years have been spent in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
What is your present employment?
I’m a Product Manager for a healthcare technology startup called Digital Diagnostics, which provides the first FDA-approved Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, imaging technology for diagnosing diabetic retina scans and is developing a parallel system for cancerous skin lesions. Our mission is to transform the quality, accessibility, and affordability of healthcare. I serve as a translator between engineering and business teams, prioritizing what we build, and when, so that we stay focused on solving the most critical problems. Product managers are often thought of as the “CEO of their product”, which means I’m responsible for ensuring everything from the initial design to the rollout is on time and on budget.
What do you anticipate (hope) the impact of this work will have?
Our goal is to increase access to critical specialty care for thousands of patients who might otherwise not get it, expanding equity, and reducing healthcare disparities. Lengthy wait times and expensive co-pays prevent many patients from seeking the care they need, not to mention there simply aren’t enough specialists to go around. We’re building our interpretive imaging tools to meet patients where they are and enable specialists to catch disease at an earlier, more treatable stage.
What skills do you need to do your job?
My job requires constant communication, negotiation, organization, and strategic thinking. There’s no such thing as over-communicating. I’m constantly building advocates, persuading teams, aligning visions, and evaluating priorities. When customers tell us they want something new, I work with my team to measure the added value that spending the time and resources to implement those feature would bring to our business team. Then, I work with designers and developers to translate the request into tasks that our engineers can deliver.
I rely on analytical reasoning, the scientific method (minus the poster-board presentation), problem-solving, and a bit of computer science on a daily basis.
What impact did St. Mary's School have in preparing you for this career path?
SMS taught me to pause and think critically. In calculus with Mr. St. Onge and science with Ms. Lovett and Mrs. Kirkpatrick, I learned to identify and solve the crux of an issue. In history with Mr. Comerchero and literature with Mrs. Hunter, I learned (and re-learned) to refine my thesis, identify nuance, and speak to a particular audience. Throughout my courses and activities, I was challenged to use my voice confidently, lead with credibility, and think for myself. Mr. Volk lit a fire within me to challenge myself with new events – i.e., steeplechase and the mud run.
St. M also taught me to prioritize community throughout everything I do. I’m proud to still commit dozens of weekends of community service per year, many of which to the same types of programs I grew to know and love during my time at SMS.
What might you change or emphasize with SMS education to enhance impactful careers?
I’d emphasize how every career path and area of study has an opportunity to expand equity and promote diversity. On the surface, math is crunching numbers and science is making mini-explosions. But how can you apply your skills and your position of power to improve the opportunities for others? If you’re studying to become an accountant, how can you take on clients who will make the world a better place? If you’re a software engineer, have you made sure your applications are compatible with screen-readers and functional on a vast array of devices?
What are your interests outside of work?
I love mountains and don’t sit still very well. You can find me hiking, biking, rafting, camping, paddle-boarding, or playing Spike Ball. I coach skiing, kayaking, and rock climbing for people with disabilities. I (used to) travel and (still) enjoy spending time with friends and family.
Monica is currently the managing attorney of the Oregon Law Center’s Portland Regional Office. As managing attorney, she supervises the office’s legal work, conducts outreach and community presentations, litigates in state and federal court, and works with local and state policymakers on issues affecting low-income Oregonians. Williams College ‘97 B.A. in English Stanford University Law School ‘01 J.D. Current location: Portland, Oregon
Alexi Graduated from Lewis and Clark College in 3 years and was the youngest in her graduating class. While in school, Alexi was a Northwest Conference Scholar-Athlete; placed 2nd and 3rd at the Northwest Conference track meet in the high jump in 2015 and 2014; was the 5th all-time in Lewis and Clark history for the high jump and 4x100m relay; was the women's varsity track and field team captain for 2014-2015; was Miss Willamette Valley 2014 placing in the top 10 at Miss Oregon; was the recipient of the Tiffany Phillips Scholar-Athlete Award and was the 2014-2015 Co-President of the Pre-Health Professionals Club.
While she is applying to medical school, Alexi is also working part-time as a medical scribe and working in the Developmental Brain Imaging Lab at Oregon Health and Science University. Having worked with Children's Miracle Network Hospitals for 11 years and Special Olympics as a volleyball coach for 2 years, she hopes to one day become a developmental pediatrician.
Lewis and Clark College ’15, B.S. Chemistry Current location: Portland, Oregon
Qifang is an international student from Shanghai, China. She came to St. Mary’s for her Sophomore, Junior and Senior years. She went on to graduate from University of Rochester in three years with a major in Financial Economics and minor in German. During her Sophomore year, she began working as an accountant at Odysseylife. While working as an accountant, she was also a Chinese and Math teaching assistant. After graduating from the University of Rochester, she moved to Los Angeles to start her accounting career at LA Grand Clothing INC. Qifang plans to pursue a masters degree in Finance/Accounting in 2016.
University of Rochester ’15, B.S. Financial Economics with a minor in German Current location: Los Angeles, California
Nicole earned several university and residential college awards for her contributions to student life while at Yale. She also completed the full pre-medical coursework, in addition to doing two years of biomedical research. Nicole currently works in the Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences Department at the Yale School of Medicine as a postgraduate associate, where she will be working in both clinical and research settings to construct a new biorepository for the entire department.
(The Martin sisters, from left to right, Maria ’08, Nicole ’11 and Lillian ’14)
Yale University ’15 B.A. in History of Art, with distinction Current location: New Haven, Connecticut
Francesca El Attrash-Ukaejiofo is currently a candidate for a Master’s in Public Policy, with a concentration in International Development, from the School of Public Affairs at American University in Washington DC. She is expecting to graduate in 2016. Her academic and professional interests are foreign policy, international development, and government administration. Her causes of interest are human rights, particularly gender equality.
Francesca is currently an Editorial Fellow at Govloop, which works to connect public sector professionals to improve government. During her time in DC, she also interned with Senator Ron Wyden’s Office (D-OR) on Capitol Hill and the Department of State in the Foreign Service Institute. Recently, Francesca worked as a Research Assistant at the Congressional Management Foundation, which is dedicated to improving Congress’s effectiveness.
During her undergraduate career, Francesca gained experience in grassroots organization through her involvement in various social justice groups including Chapman Feminists, the Queer Straight Alliance, and the University Program Board. Her social activism inspired her to focus on women’s leadership on the international platform.
After completing her Master’s program, she hopes to work either in Department of State or an international organization focusing on women’s issues. She currently lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, Dr. Rex Ukaejiofo.
Peking University, Beijing Sept. – Dec. 2011 China Studies Institute, Fall 2011 4 Courses- Mandarin, Chinese Political Reformation, Sino-American Relations, and Women’s Studies Chapman University ‘13; B.A. Double Major in Political Science and Peace Studies, Minor in Women’s Studies American University, Expected Graduation 2016, Candidate for Master’s in Public Policy Current location: Virginia
Since 2013 Bay has been working as a product manager for Google. One year was spent in New York City managing engineering teams in Sydney and Bangalore India, and another year in Europe managing engineering teams for YouTube's brand advertising business.
Bay’s role involves working at the intersection of engineering, design, and business development for projects within Google. Bay plans to matriculate at Harvard Business School in the fall of 2016.
Yale University ‘13, bachelor's in computer science cum laude Current location: Zurich, Switzerland
While at Linfield College, Joe played basketball for two years before joining the coaching staff, eventually serving as the Head Junior Varsity coach leading the team to one of their best seasons, including wins over several Oregon Community College programs. He was also active in student government as well as the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity.
Joe worked as a consultant for his Fraternity immediately out of college, traveling to campuses on the East coast and Midwest, and then returned to Portland to join Merrill Lynch as a retail stockbroker. In 1999 he joined Intel Corporation where he has worked for the last 15 years. In those 15 years he’s had a varied career including roles in procurement, engineering, product development and marketing. This has also included two separate international assignments, one in Shanghai, PRC and his current assignment in Taipei, Taiwan.
He is currently in Intel’s Sales and Marketing Group as Global Account Manager for Asia Pacific. He manages the sales team that calls on the Asia design and procurement centers for Dell Computer, one of Intel’s largest customers.
Outside of work he enjoys traveling with his wife of 15 years and 3 young daughters, ages 12, 10 and 6. He plays just enough golf to retain a single digit handicap, and continues to play basketball a couple times a week.
Linfield College ‘96, B.S. Finance Current location: Taipei, Taiwan
At Wellesley (even at St. Mary's) I found I had a strong interest and ability in both writing and the sciences. This eventually led to my starting up my own medical writing and editing business, which I have had for six years and has encompassed everything from copyediting medical journals, to writing manuscripts for scientific research and even reporting on conference proceedings or pharmaceutical development meetings with subject matter experts.
After working for two years in a full-time role developing continuing medical education for paramedics, I returned to school for my MSc. in Genetic Counseling at the University of Toronto. I've chosen a research-oriented career, having first worked in clinical research ethics at the largest pediatric hospital in Canada. I'm now on a year-long contract to develop and run several studies to benefit children with severe communication impairments, working with a clinical engineering lab that makes novel communication devices that can be controlled by eye movement, vocalizations, or even changes in brain wave patterns.
Wellesley College, BA, Biological Sciences, 2004 University of Toronto, MSc., Molecular Genetics (Genetic Counseling), 2014 Current location: Toronto, Ontario
Certifications Licensed Physical Therapist AHA BLS for Healthcare Providers (CPR & AED) Professional Affiliations American Physical Therapy Association and Texas Physical Therapy Association Member Current location: Medford, Oregon Awards and Achievements Innovation & Excellence in Digital Educational Design (Harcourt, 2006) Eagle Scout Award, Boy Scouts of America (1997) 2-time Ironman Triathlon Finisher (2005, 2007)
Jeremy is currently a Physical Therapist for an outpatient spine-specialty clinic. He is one of a three team lead working in conjunction with Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation physicians, spinal surgeons chiropractors, physical therapists, and massage therapists to create a multidisciplinary approach emphasizing conservative care in rehabilitation of each individual patient. He is also part of a multidisciplinary team exploring the research behind physical therapy status/post lumbar spine fusion that has three papers up for publication.
Trinity University, B.S. Computer Science, B.S. Geoscience, 2002 Texas State, Doctor of Physical Therapy, 2013
Lisa is currently a research fellow in infectious diseases and critical care in the Harvard combined programs. Her first year of training from July 2012 through June 2013 was spent working on the adult inpatient infectious diseases consult service at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Her second year of training from July 2013 through June 2014, was spent as a full-time critical care fellow, working in the intensive care units at MGH and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, while continuing working in the infectious diseases outpatient clinic one half-day weekly. Her outpatient infectious diseases clinic consisted of HIV primary care, treating patients on outpatient antibiotic therapy, and advanced management of mycobacterial disease.
In July 2014, Lisa entered the research phase of her fellowship training, beginning with the Program in Clinical Effectiveness at the Harvard School of Public Health. After this course, she moved to Mbarara, Uganda to engage in full-time research activities. Over 10 months on-site, her research will focus on puerperal (peripartum) infections, addressing key priorities of the World Health Organization to better understand the causes of maternal morbidity and mortality, and developing interventions to improve maternal health outcomes, especially amongst HIV-infected women. Her training in infectious diseases and critical care, and over 2 years’ prior research experience in sub-Saharan Africa, make her particularly well-suited to be the primary investigator in this project. Using skills acquired from this course, Lisa is confident that she will develop the skills necessary to write a successful K-23 career development award supporting her ultimate goal of becoming an independent academic clinical scientist with expertise in the epidemiology of puerperal sepsis among HIV-infected women in resource-limited settings.
Trinity University '01 B.S. in Biology, B.A in Philosophy. Graduated Magna Cum Laude and inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. University of Queensland B.S Honours Zoology and Entomology '02 Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons M.D. '08 Current location: Mbarara, Uganda and Boston, Massachusetts
User interface for automated provision of build images, issued March 26, 2013 Modular imaging download system, issued January 26, 2010 Method and system for automated provision of build images, issued February 20, 2007
Matt works for Xignite, a startup company based out of San Mateo, CA as the Engineering Director and is also completing his MBA from the University of Nebraska on the 9/11 GI Bill. He is a U.S. Coast Guard Veteran.
American Sentinel University '04, Denver, B.S., Computer Science American Sentinel University '05, Denver, M.S., Computer Science, Magna Cum Laude Colorado Technical University '09, Doctorate, Computer Science, research area: quantum computer programming Cerro Coso '13, Associate of Science, Small Business Management/Entrepreneurship University of Nebraska-Lincoln '15, M.B.A. Finance Current location: San Mateo, California