Where Are They Now?
Kelsey James-Kavanaugh, Class of 2006
“Be the Change You Want to See in the World”
My eighth grade year was the first year Mr. Carlstroem was the head of school at BPC and I still remember the speech he gave at his first assembly. After showing the upper school students how we could all remember his name through the motions of driving a car, the letter L, and strumming an air guitar (a very humorous sight to say the least!), he told us that he wanted us all to “be the change we wanted to see in the world”.
That phrase, I believe, captures what an education from BPC is all about. At BPC you are encouraged to have big dreams and to turn them into a reality. As a student, you are encouraged to be creative and well-rounded rather than to be forced to choose between math, English, science, and the arts. Teachers, and even your fellow peers, challenged and pushed you to be your best self, and I am grateful to have been a part of it. I can honestly say that my 4th-8th grade education help instill in me the desire to have a positive impact on the world and to not just be a face in the crowd. assembly. After showing the upper school students how we could all remember his name through the motions of driving a car, the letter L, and strumming an air guitar (a very humorous sight to say the least!), he told us that he wanted us all to “be the change we wanted to see in the world”.
From a young age, I knew I wanted to work with animals as my profession. As I grew up, that dream began to take shape and I eventually settled on wanting to work with wildlife in the conservation world. My inspiration for doing so was based on a phrase I chose to print in bold, golden glitter letters on my college graduation cap: ‘Be a voice for those without one.” So, having the opportunity to return to Africa for a two-month internship with Lion Encounter, an organization under the umbrella group ALERT (African Lion and Environmental Research Trust), to work with lions was truly a dream come true. Lion Encounter and ALERT’s ultimate goal is to release prides of lions, through their four stage program, into areas of Africa where lions have been historically found. Days were long, starting at 5:30 am and ending after 8:00 pm, and full of laborious tasks, including enclosure cleaning and meat prep. But I loved every minute of it because I was making a difference in the lives of the lions and, ultimately, the fate of their species.
I chose to work in Africa because I believe it is on the front line of the battle being waged to help save the majestic wildlife that also call Earth home. It is a never-ending battle but it is not one without hope. I always like to stress that while humans are the problem we are also the solution. As a species, we have the greatest influence on this planet and it is our duty to make a conscious effort to ensure we keep it healthy and happy for the generations of people and animals to come. And so I, like Mr. Carlstroem did during his first assembly, encourage us all to make a difference and “be the change we want to see in the world.”
Kelsey James-Kavanaugh graduated from U.C. Davis in June 2014 with a B.S. in Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology. She is currently exploring her options in wildlife conservation in both graduate school and the career world.
Ryan Sullivan, Class of 2009
Ryan Sullivan (Class of 2009) is a sophomore at Vanderbilt University majoring in public policy studies and business. Prior to Vanderbilt, Ryan attended Piedmont High School, excelling in the classroom and on the football and baseball fields. Among other extra-curricular activities, he played cello in the Young People’s Symphony and Chamber Orchestras.
“I have been very fortunate. I credit a large amount of my success to my time at BPC. At BPC, my teachers always encouraged me to think critically and question everything. This approach has stayed with me to this day, prompting me to regularly evaluate what I am doing and why, and to keep learning and growing as a person.
“Specifically, my experience at BPC helped inspire in me a passion for service from an early age. I recall Coastal Cleanup days, food drives, and my teachers allowing me to miss a week of classes in order to go on a service trip with my family to Guatemala. This flexibility and emphasis on service helped me develop in ways students at other schools may not have the opportunity to do.”
Ryan is the founder and director of Village to Village, a small but growing nonprofit organization based in rural Thailand that he started as a junior in high school. Village to Village’s mission is to implement cost-effective solutions to public health issues in small villages throughout Southeast Asia, areas that are often overlooked by larger foreign aid organizations. Ryan plans to travel to Thailand this spring and lead a project to build a house for an 80-year old woman and her 10-year old granddaughter. Previous projects include installing the first-ever bathrooms with running water in Na Som, Laos; providing rain jackets before monsoon season to the elderly and young children in rural Laos; and the construction of several houses in the region. (For more information on Village to Village: villagetovillage.org, email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
“At Vanderbilt I often feel the benefits of attending a Socratic school. I feel like I am getting more out of my college education specifically because of my K-8 education. This is not because of what I was taught at BPC, by how I was taught. I have the tools and confidence to engage professors and classmates in truly productive ways. A BPC education helped make me the student and person I am today. It will remain a guiding light I will carry into the future.”
SENIOR SEND-OFF EVENT
Toward the end of every school year, BPC welcomes back former students who are about to graduate from high school for a reception called Senior Send-Off. The idea is simple: to bring classmates together, perhaps for the last time as a large group, and provide a space for them to reminisce, get reacquainted and discuss plans for the future.
The event takes place in the FAD. It is deliberately loosely organized, causal and fun. The head of school welcomes the students, shares a few memories and then joins the party. Almost every former student attends, and many of their parents too. Many faculty join also, which is a highlight for the students and the teachers as well. If available, yearbooks, videos, and other artifacts from the class’s era are on display.
At the conclusion of the event, students typically wander around campus in groups large and small, playing basketball, crawling in the concrete tube and generally breathing in the memories of a special time and place. No one seems to want to leave.
Where are they going next?
Amherst, Claremont McKenna, Tufts, University of Michigan, Smith, Colombia, Wesleyan, Ole Miss, UCLA, Yale, Davis, University of Puget Sound, Lewis and Clark.
What will they be studying?
Veterinary medicine, neurobiology, interactive media, biomedical engineering, ecology, chemistry, medicine, and innovative studies such as the 3/2 program in which you study one discipline for three years at one university, then switch to another for two and graduate with both a B.A. and B.S.!