Alumni Connections Across the Country and Around the World

Admiral alumni are walking proof of the value of a Severn education; a large part of that value lies in relationships. Our alumni remain connected after graduation, with the support of friendship that can last a lifetime. Admirals build professional bonds once in the working world. And increasingly, our alumni stay connected with Severn through mentorship programs with current students. Embracing the global switch to virtual connections this year, Director of Alumni Relations Dr. Carrie Grimes '91 has broadened that reach, inviting Admirals far and wide to share their time and expertise with our students.

Virtual Visits With Upper School Clubs

Upper School clubs are fertile ground for students to explore their interests, develop leadership skills, and dip their toes into potential career paths after graduation. This year, we've had a record number of alumni visits with clubs using Zoom and hope to continue this trend. Although some students took the lead in organizing and moderating the sessions, club members collectively prepared questions to make the most of their time together.
Black Student Alliance
BSA student leaders Daniel Babalola '21, Chela Cunningham '21, Yeala Grimes '21, Abijah Pennant '21, and Maddie Skinner '21 worked together to guide the discussion, encouraging everyone to share their perspectives on the Black Severn experience, then and now. Guests included:
  • Phyllis Birkhead '95, currently works in finance at Raytheon Technologies (Edgewater, MD)
  • Sherie Cornish Gordon '98, Chief of Staff and Interim Vice President for Administration and Finance at Humboldt State University (Mckinleyville, CA)
  • Alhamisi “Misi” Simms, ‘95 Portfolio Manager with TIAA, FSB (Charlotte, NC)
  • John "Jay" Vereen '95, Senior Technical Sales Consultant at Keyence Corporation of America (Decatur, GA)
“I’ve felt a recurring desire to contribute to Severn in the form of making personal connections with students. Living in NC has made that difficult. And the pandemic has made it all the more challenging. These virtual meetings have removed those hurdles. I’ve been able to share my experiences, insights, and wisdom that I hope will benefit current students. It’s a wonderful feeling to be so connected . . . the most since graduating!” — Misi Simms
Severn School alumni on a Zoom.
Top: Phyllis Birkhead '95, John Vareen '95, Dr. Carrie Grimes '91
Bottom: Sherie Gordon '98, DEI Director Mr. Michael Glasby, Misi Simms '95
Investment Club
Investment Club President Zander King '21 took the lead, reached out to Dr. Grimes to find alumni for the visit, and moderated the panel. Afterward, club members were hungry for more, remarking that they would welcome a longer session in the future.
"We were only able to speak with them for an hour, but we learned a little about each of their niche professions and what their daily life is like in their roles. Students were very interested in finding out how they got into their job field. They told us that the key is to try a lot of things and see what you are passionate about, and to always be curious to learn more whether it's reading books, meeting people, or asking questions. They emphasized the importance of constantly learning and growing, and that a role that's right for you will naturally come with hard work and drive." — Zander King '21
Guests included:
  • Dolph Habeck ‘94 Managing Director, Head of ESG and Distribution for the Americas at London-based Greensill Capital (New York)
  • Roma Patel ‘05, Principal at Declaration Partners, an investment firm (Washington D.C.)
  • Alhamisi “Misi” Simms ‘95 (see above)
Severn School alumni on a Zoom with students in clubs.
Top: Dolph Habeck ‘94, Roma Patel ‘05
Bottom: Misi Simms ‘95
Model United Nations
Our first virtual alumni connection from across the Atlantic, the Zoom session with our Model U.N. students was inspiring for all. Club leader Annika Jensen '21 moderated the panel. Guests included:
  • Enid Williams ’03, Senior Cultural Diplomacy Policy Adviser at Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (London)
  • Robin Pirie ’50, 2008 Severn School Distinguished Alumnus, Rhodes Scholar, and retired Naval submarine commander and former Secretary of the Navy (Chevy Chase, MD)
In response to a question from Micheal Hesford '21 about the most important skill to have for working in international relations, Mr. Pirie said, "A willingness to really try to see things from the perspective of the other side. It eases the process of coming to grips with the issues and negotiations."
Severn School alumni and students on a Zoom.
Robin Pirie '50 pictured top left, Enid Williams '03 pictured top right

Zooming In on Our Curriculum

Dr. Grimes also works with teachers to coordinate alumni guest lectures and mentorship opportunities that enhance and extend our regular classroom curriculum.
Upper School English
English teacher Dr. Jackie Baugh invited Los Angeles-based author Katharine Coldiron '99 to Zoom with seniors in her seminar, The World's Greatest Short Stories. Katharine shared details about her life as a published writer and her writing process. Following the session she said, "Believe me, it was my pleasure! I'd be happy to participate in anything similar in the future. I was pleased with how engaged the students were, and shocked but gratified that they'd read my work so closely."
Severn School alumni on a Zoom.
Katharine Coldiron '99 pictured top left
Dr. Baugh also invites a group of alumni to work with her American Public Address students each year for interviews about public speaking in different industries. These one-on-one meetings make a lasting impact on our students as they explore what their passion for communication might look like in different sectors. Dr. Baugh shared a thank you note that Micheala Leikin '21 sent to Maryland-based orthopedic surgeon Dr. Milford Marchant '92.
"I think the thing I found most interesting was your emphasis on your connection with patients. One of the reasons I am interested in the medical field is to help people. I admire your dedication to your practice and your commitment to share your knowledge with aspiring students like me." 
AP Computer Science
When computer science teacher Ms. Linda Reichard heard that Dr. Grimes could connect her with California-based video game designer Matt Mason '99, she knew it would be a perfect fit for her students. Matt has worked on several popular games including the recent Call of Duty: Warzone. After Matt shared insights about working in his industry, Melissa Mazuranic '23 asked if there were any classes at Severn that prepared him for that career. He replied, "To a certain extent, all of them . . . they are all different ways of learning. Like in English, you read something that is really effective and then figure out why. Math is another way of examining and looking at the world; it's the same thing with art. You learn how to conceptualize problems from a bunch of different angles."

Riding the Tide of Change Together

Restrictions on in-person visits and events have challenged Dr. Grimes and the Alumni House crew to get creative with expanding our alumni network in meaningful ways. We are grateful for our alumni's flexibility and enthusiasm for keeping close ties with Severn. Through the collaborative effort of faculty, staff, and generations of Severn Admirals, the relationships on which our community is built continue to thrive. Contact Dr. Carrie Grimes '91 to become an alumni mentor!

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