Saint Mary's School News

Collegiate Alumnae Panel inspires current students

Saint Mary’s School, a community dedicated to academic excellence and personal achievement, prepares young women for college and life. Who better to articulate the school’s success in this mission than a panel of collegiate alumnae?

Each year, Saint Mary’s invites a panel of young alumnae currently attending college to speak to our students about college life, the college admissions process, and reflections on how Saint Mary’s prepared them for college and life after high school. This year’s panel spoke to the students in our first assembly held in the Chapel, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, while Pittman Auditorium undergoes renovation and expansion into the Blanche Robertson Bacon Center for Performing Arts.

The panelists included:

Katie Guess ’22, a recent graduate traveling the world during a gap year with plans to enroll at UNC-Chapel Hill in the fall of 2023;

Margaret Ivy Johnston ’20, a junior at Elon University majoring in cinema and television arts;

Martha Luck Johnston ’20, a junior at North Carolina State University majoring in fashion and textile design;

Avery LeMay ’22, a first-year student at Appalachian State University planning to declare her major in international business;

Ainsley McCurry ’22, a first-year student at the University of Tennessee majoring in special education; and

Jenny Nguyen ’21, a sophomore at Kalamazoo College in Michigan majoring in biochemistry.

Assistant Head of School Patricia C.A. Sasser moderated the discussion, which included panelists speaking in-person and via Zoom and phone connection from afar.

Each young alumna cited hallmarks of a Saint Mary’s education for preparing them successfully for college, including academics; paper writing; learning to advocate for yourself; being unafraid to speak out in class even in male-dominated classrooms; learning to write effective emails and introducing themselves to professors; time management skills; knowing how to interact with new people; being confident; getting out of your comfort zone to try new things and participate in community life; learning to be independent and resilient; and more.

The panelists answered questions from the student body and offered advice on both life at Saint Mary’s and college.

“Being a boarder at Saint Mary’s away from home planted the seed of independence and gave me the confidence to step out of my comfort zone,” said one panelist. “Confidence can get you a long way.”

“Saint Mary’s taught me how to write papers well,” said another panelist. “My college professors love my papers.”

“I learned self-advocacy at Saint Mary’s,” said one panelist. “My professor in a class of 300 students knows me because I took the initiative to introduce myself, which I learned to be comfortable with at SMS.”

Our students enjoyed hearing from such an impressive group of collegiate alumnae as our current students envision and plan for their own college journey. Thank you, young alumnae, for sharing your experiences, insights, and wisdom from beyond the gates.