The Path to College and Beyond: Lessons from Montrose Alumnae

Maevis Fahey '21, Editor-in-Chief

College. For students who come of age in the 21st Century, this word is part of our everyday vocabulary. The word “college” can feel synonymous with “success.” Where will we spend the next four years of our life after graduation? Where, really, will we end up?

Montrose alum Amanda Condrin (‘15) and Emily Melville (‘15) graduated from college this past spring and have many insights to share about the entire process. Amanda and Emily have ventured into their “next steps” in Marketing and Human Resources respectively. At college, they learned more than just facts and figures — they learned how to express themselves and become a part of their community.

Finding Their Way at College

As captain of Bentley University’s competitive dance team, Amanda fully embraced her love for dance and channelled this passion into her entire college experience. While at Montrose, she cantored at Mass and also participated in the Art Club. In college, she pursued her interests in communications and business. She said, “I studied Creative Industries, which is a major specific to Bentley. It’s kind of a blend between advertising and corporate communications.” Bentley University offered Amanda a flexible route of study that fit her interests for the future. Now that Amanda has graduated from Bentley, she has faced entirely new paths she could take for her life and career.

After Emily’s graduation from Dickinson College, she pursued employment in Human Resources (HR), most recently at Imprivata in Lexington, MA. Emily majored in Psychology and Spanish and had the chance to study abroad in Argentina and Ecuador. Her language classes at Montrose helped her find her interest in Spanish and take the opportunity to study overseas. Emily said, “Psychology was something I was always interested in. It really wasn’t something I tried out until I went to college. But I was definitely influenced to major in Spanish because of the classes I took at Montrose. I think those classes stuck with me the most.” Emily’s choice of majors represent the balance that is essential for finding your way at college — a combination of your past interests and your personal curiosity.

Embracing Uncertainties as Opportunities

For high schoolers, a source of both pressure and excitement stems from where we hope to end up after graduating from Montrose. It’s something we wonder about until the day that we commit to our college of choice in senior year. This uncertainty can feel like one of the most significant aspects of our lives at times, but in reality, similar uncertainties will occur many more times in our future. 

For Amanda, one of these uncertainties occurred as she took her first steps into her career after college. As Amanda explains, much of our lives follow a common structure for education: finishing middle school, then finishing high school, and then selecting the right college. But after graduating from college, you have to form your own plan to start your new career. 

As Amanda said, “It’s that step — in between graduating from college and your career afterwards — [that] there are so many possibilities and it can feel very overwhelming at times. You ask, ‘What is my next logical step? Where do I go next?’ I feel like that was my biggest struggle — trying to figure out, ‘What am I going to do? And if I don’t know what I’m going to do, is that okay?’”

Montrose seniors awaiting their college responses likely relate to this kind of sentiment. But the uncertainties that they feel about the future can be harnessed into excitement, rather than more stress.

As Amanda said, “It’s okay to not know what you’re going to be doing tomorrow, or the next day. I think the biggest thing is just believing that things are supposed to happen for a reason, and that you’ve put in all of this hard work and time in your studies and your extracurricular activities, and there will be a reward at the end. Your hard work will pay off. I feel like that’s my mindset — saying, ‘Okay, things are happening at the right pace for me, and things are happening when they’re supposed to be happening.’”

Instead of seeing uncertainties as obstacles, they can be viewed as challenges or stepping stones. After graduating from Bentley, Amanda faced many such decisions. She said: “I’m working at a biotech medical start-up in their marketing department. I’ve gotten to do so many things at a start-up which a lot of young marketing professionals don’t get to do.” From brand development to user and consumer testing, every day brings something new.  

Though she loves her job, she anticipates that this is just the first step on her career path, and she will likely pursue something new in the coming months — opportunities to expand her skills and vision. 

Following High School Passions

Emily’s high school interests in Psychology and Spanish created a unique path of study that matched her passions and interests. Travelling abroad to Latin and South America turned out to be one of her favorite experiences in college. She said: “Before I graduated from Montrose, I knew that I wanted to [study abroad] in a Latin American country. Looking back at my college experience, I’m proud of myself for going abroad — it was somewhere really far from home, and my host family didn’t speak any English at all. I learned a lot, and my Spanish really improved too.”

Amanda also translated her high school passions into college experiences. As captain of her university’s dance team, Amanda reflected on the lessons from her high school years: “[Dance] really helped me learn how to manage my time. I knew the expectations of the teachers at Montrose, and I had my own expectations for myself and the level and quality of the work I turned in to them. I really wanted to be able to put as much effort as I could into both parts of my life.” Amanda’s determination to compete in dance and also give her best work at school prepared her well for the challenges of college.

The Strength of Self-Advocacy

The Montrose experience gave Amanda and Emily something that’s hard to quantify on paper: self-confidence.

Amanda shared, “Montrose is really good at teaching girls how to self-advocate. One thing I was never afraid to do was going to my professors for extra help or going to resource centers on campus. I felt like a lot of my friends who came from other schools — public schools, other private schools — were not as used to feeling like it’s okay to ask for help or a little bit more guidance. I really didn’t feel troubled or embarrassed. I felt really confident talking in class, and even if I wasn’t confident, I could just go to my professor for extra help.” 

Similarly, Emily noted, “Montrose made me less fearful to speak in front of other people and more confident in voicing my thoughts and opinions and giving my insights about things, which is particularly helpful in my job now.” 

Looking Back: Advice for Montrosians

In the end, the feelings of uncertainty that can arise while making decisions about our future should not restrain us. Instead, we can get comfortable with uncertainty and embrace the unknown. For seniors, choosing a college can feel like the finish line. Instead, it’s just another stepping stone in our lives. 

Here is Emily’s advice for the graduating senior class this year: “Do things that are out of your comfort zone. It can be a big transition to go from our small community at Montrose to a big college. It can be a great time to try new things.” 

Amanda offered this final thought: “It’s really important for every Montrosian to just trust in the process you’re going through. Everybody at Montrose brings such a unique perspective. What they bring to the table, what they bring to their college and student body is special — and no one else can fill that spot.”