Concord-Carlisle High School
Class of 2007
I grew up in Concord from the age of eight, and graduated from Concord-Carlisle High School in 2007. I had a great four years at the high school and enjoyed it both academically and socially. I took my studies seriously, and also played soccer and ran track.
While at CCHS, I studied French with Madame Albeck, who encouraged me to continue my language studies in college. When thinking about colleges, I considered Division III athletic schools, but ultimately decided upon Georgetown University for the strength of its language and international programs. My family and I were daunted by the cost of college, so I applied to many schools to see what financial aid might be available. I was lucky in that Georgetown provided a generous financial aid package, so I was able to go to my first choice school. I also applied to The Scholarship Fund of Concord and Carlisle and received the Adrian Martinez Memorial Scholarship, which is given to a male and female recipient each year. Dan Fidler and I were the first two recipients, in 2007.
It was a great honor to be chosen not only because it was a huge help financially, but also because Adrian was so respected in the CCHS community. Adrian had been a Concord-Carlisle High School track team member -- a distance runner who loved the mile and inspired others with his passion and encouraging spirit. He went on to attend and run at Williams College, where sadly he died suddenly. Adrian’s family established a scholarship fund in his name to help students who shared his love of running and same spirit.
Even though I wasn’t planning to run competitively in college, receiving the Martinez scholarship encouraged me to prioritize my mental and physical health. To me, it was an indication of support from the community that I had been running with for four years -- I had their vote of confidence in choosing Georgetown even though I wouldn’t be joining the track team. I was truly honored, and had the opportunity to meet Adrian’s parents and family and thank them in person. Even though I had a generous financial aid package from Georgetown, the Martinez scholarship made a big impact for me because it significantly reduced the amount I needed to take in student loans.
I started my four years at Georgetown as a French major. Since language majors are required to take a second foreign language, I chose to study Chinese, after a brief trip to China left me very interested in the country and culture. Even though Chinese is a challenging language, I loved it and continued to study it for all four years. While I enjoyed my language studies and received world-class instruction at Georgetown, as a sophomore, I realized I wanted to gain other lenses for understanding the world. I made the decision to switch to the Government department, and graduated in 2011 as a Government major with a double minor in French and Mandarin Chinese.
After studying Mandarin at Georgetown, I discovered a program, Teach for China, which placed recent college graduates primarily in rural settings in China for two years. Two years seemed like a very long time, and I wasn’t sure about being isolated in a remote location. But during the group interview for the program, I met such smart, wonderful people that I enthusiastically ventured into spending two years in Yunnan, China, as a middle school English teacher. Living and teaching in mountainous Yunnan was at once very challenging and also exciting -- I learned more about myself and the world in those two years than any other time of my life. As a teacher in a rural community that was less economically developed and had limited work opportunities, I saw that so many challenges were intertwined – many adults chose to migrate to other cities in search of work, unable to bring their children with them because they would not be able to attend school in a different location due to China’s internal registration system. Many of my students lived with aunts and uncles, grandparents, or older siblings and only saw their parents infrequently.
In my second year, as I thought about coming back to the U.S. and my next steps, I found a path that would help me unpack my experience in China through the academic lens of economic and social development. I decided to pursue a master’s in international economics and development at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. During my time at SAIS, I had the opportunity to intern at a number of organizations, including Save the Children, Pratham, which is India’s largest education non-profit, and the Obama White House, with the Domestic Policy Council’s education team. Working in the White House opened my eyes to the magnitude of educational inequity in the U.S., and helped me better understand the challenges we face at home. From rural China to the White House, I have been lucky to have some incredible experiences that have shaped me personally and professionally. Now, three years out of graduate school, I work at Results for Development, an organization in Washington, D.C. with a mission to support healthy, educated people by working with change agents around the globe. I am grateful to put my skills and experience to use in tackling education challenges and conducting research. My work has taken me to rural Bangladesh, India, Kenya, and Ethiopia, among other places.
When I look back, the thread that runs through my story is education. I have always been interested in education but came to it in a roundabout way. Now, I recognize the significance of quality education, not only as the focus of my professional career and research, but also in my personal journey. By sheer luck, I was fortunate to grow up in Concord, Massachusetts, with many opportunities afforded to me, including the education and support to pursue whatever career path I choose. My Scholarship Fund of Concord and Carlisle scholarship was critical in enabling me to choose the school that was the best fit, and it had an important emotional impact by validating my choice and showing me that my community had my back. I am very grateful for the supporters along my journey – my parents, teachers, and track coaches, especially Steve Lane and Hanna Bruno – and for receiving a scholarship in the name of a legendary fellow track athlete, Adrian Martinez. That support enabled me to have the confidence to explore far-flung corners of the world and work towards educational equity for others, and to know that I am prepared to figure it out as I go.