Students and Alum Connect at Professional Forum

Students and Alum Connect at Professional Forum

Gabby Landry '18, Editor-in-Chief

Montrose Mavericks from the Class of 1986 to the Class of 2017 gathered in Founder’s Hall on Thursday, January 5th for an interesting and inspiring event: the Professional Forum and Networking Dinner.  During the evening, successful Montrose alumnae shared their career experiences and advice with about 30 current students and recent alumnae.  

For two hours, we enjoyed a pizza dinner and desserts while going from table to table in ten-minute sessions, with one or two alumnae at each table to talk and answer questions.  Eight alumnae made up the forum and represented the fields of business, education, medicine, law, engineering, nonprofit work, and technology.  


Jenna McCarthy ‘19 enjoyed the event.  She said: “I found the professional forum to be very informative. Conversations among the alumnae made me really excited for my future after Montrose. Also, all the alumnae’s jobs were really intriguing and eye-opening as they demonstrated all the career options in today’s world.”


Elizabeth Ling ‘18 added, “I learned that Montrosians oftentimes come ahead in the real world.  I don’t feel as worried about graduating from Montrose and being unprepared.”

Associate Vice President of Knowledge Management and Information Technology at Jobs for the Future Megan Fox ‘88 shared her insights as a leader in her field.  She said, “Always do a good job with what you’re doing, no matter what it is.  Often, whatever the technical skills of a job are, you can learn. So although your job may evolve, you maintain those critical skills: listen, follow through, be responsible, be responsive.”


Olivia Hastie ‘18 added her opinions on the event.  She said, “I thought the professional was a great way to meet Montrosians currently succeeding and what they do, and was a great way to start thinking about the future. I learned that pursuing my future career is not so far-fetched, and is possible with the right intentions and the right background.”


I was especially interested in the work of Dr. Sarah Smith Bascle ‘03 and Dr. Jehanna Peerzada ‘86, who work in obstetrics and pediatrics, respectively.  Dr. Bascle spoke about maintaining the integrity and upholding her faith in a challenging professional environment of women’s health care.  She said, “I was upfront with what I was comfortable doing as a physician…My work ethic speaks for itself.”  She added that Montrose taught her how to speak for herself in uncomfortable or pressuring situations: “My strength of voice came from Montrose.”


Dr. Peerzada spoke about the importance of writing, a skill she developed at Montrose, to any profession.  She said, “How to write is the most important in any job, because you must be able to communicate.  It’s one of the most important skills I’ve brought to every job I’ve had, whether it’s been teaching English, getting into medicine or my fellowship in bioethics. I spend a lot of time writing and need to write at a high standard. Montrose taught me that.”


Our forum of professionals emphasized communication throughout the night.  Cassandra Piorkowski ‘10 said, “As a young professional woman in my field, I’ve received feedback from veteran architects and builders who’ve been impressed with my communication skills and ability to see the big picture of things.”  Ms. Piorkowski is a structural engineer with Foley Buhl Roberts & Associates, Inc.


Overall, the professional forum was an exceptional opportunity to learn from successful Montrose alumnae about overcoming challenges, developing a strong work ethic, communicating clearly, and learning from feedback.  As Francesca Dyke ‘18 put it, “I loved meeting with Montrose professionals and seeing the many different paths we as Montrose students have available to us in our near future. I was inspired to know that I have a bright future ahead of me.”