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Alumni Snapshot: Q&A with Alex Adams '10

Alumni Director Carrie MacVean Grimes '91 first met Alex Adams '10 at Severn's 2016 DC Alumni Reception. She recently had the pleasure of catching up with him over breakfast in Severna Park, before his morning commute into Baltimore.
When did you graduate from Severn? 2010
 
Where do you live now and how did you end up there? What stops have you had along the way? I currently live in my hometown of Pasadena. With work I’m between Baltimore and DC—it’s hard to pick one, so I’m in the middle, bouncing back and forth.
 
After Severn I went to Highpoint University in North Carolina. Severn prepared me really well for college. There were several other Severn alumni at Highpoint, which was really great. I had a built-in “home away from home” support group. It was so nice to see each other on campus and to have that support network—a micro community of Severn. At Highpoint I majored in political science and minored on computer science. I worked hard, and it was a lot of fun. Being outside of Maryland was also a good learning experience for me. It opened my mind to lots of new ideas.
 
Tell us a bit about your professional journey so far. You don’t really know where you’ll end up out of college. I currently work for an affordable housing company based out of Arlington, Virginia, called AHC Inc. When I first graduated I ended up at a big renovation of an affordable housing complex in Silver Spring. Then, I was set up with another project in Baltimore. I’ve been there for over two years. AHC Inc. has a nonprofit side which works with community educational programs, residential support, food assistance, and job training education. The other side of the business I am involved with is property management. We maintain buildings, working closely with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to secure and maintain funding. The funders come in to inspect a building, and I insure the property reflects HUD compliance.
 
What are you enjoying most about your career so far? When you are working at an affordable housing site, you really get to know the people who live there. You get to hear a lot of people’s personal stories. The people in my facility are elderly, and many are disabled. Just recently, a couple across the street from our building lost their home in a fire. I helped them settle into a new home in our complex. I’m on the frontlines of the work. Sometimes people in our society associate “affordable housing” with “the projects,” and make negative stereotypical assumptions about the residents. Being on the front lines, you understand that there are real people behind every home and every story--people who have been through difficult experiences or unexpected tragedies.
 
What is your dream job? That’s tough to say. I enjoy IT, and looking at its effects on communities, particularly those without access to technology. Without a computer or cell phone, you are left behind in today’s world. That’s intriguing to me and something I’m interested in exploring. At this time in my life I’m exploring, I’m thinking, and I’m asking myself, “What’s the next step?” A lot of people my age are at a crossroads. We started in an introductory job after finishing college, and now we are developing a deeper understanding of the workforce and considering our options.
 
What influence has Severn had upon your life’s path so far? Academically you experience a strong mix of studying, self-improvement, growth, and competition at Severn which pushed us all to be better. I took a lot of history classes that fueled my passion for political science. Severn also pushed community service—I did a lot of community service as a Severn student. It reminded me that as much as we are all trying to independently succeed, we need to help others too. We can’t just focus on ourselves.
 
What do you enjoy doing in your free time? I love to see friends. I’m close with friends from Severn and from High Point, and any chance I can be with friends makes me happy. I enjoy sports as well---a little bit of everything. I’ve never played before, but I recently joined a soccer league, and that’s been fun. I’ve also have started running, and I’m doing the relay race at the Baltimore Running Festival. I heard Mr. Zmuda is running the half marathon—I’ll be looking for him there! Also, I volunteer with the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts at their festivals. I’m about to work my fifth year at their Baltimore Book Festival. At these festivals you are in the community—you’re down there in the Inner harbor, watching the storybook parade, and helping out with the authors tent. Events in the city get me excited.
 
What advice do you have for the class of 2019? My advice would be to make sure you don’t forget who you are. When you graduate from Severn, you may think about reinventing yourself, but at the end of the day, you reflect on what led you to become the person who you are today. Also: try new things. Though I’d never played, I went out for the ultimate Frisbee team in college. I ended up being the captain my senior year. Be open to opportunities, whether they knock on your door or not. Grow with your process, always be open to learning, always be open to new experiences--you never know where a road is going to take you.
 
What are two things that bring you joy in life? Getting together with people I feel a connection to brings me joy. Even though you may feel like you are “with people” every day on social media, nothing compares to seeing people in person. I also find joy in taking on challenges, doing athletics, and competing—improving and becoming better are sources of happiness for me.
 
Who are the teachers who had most influence on you at Severn? Ms. Sot (Renie Sotiropoulos) is #1. I took all of her classes. She set me on the path that I am on now. She also an Eagles fan. She has a wonderful personality…of course. She always wanted her students to get better and always gave us options about how to push our knowledge of things further. I always wanted to learn more in her classes. Also Mr. Troy Wilson—I had him for math, baseball and football. He was a really personable teacher and coach. I was very reserved when I came into Severn’s Upper School and tended to stick with my ways. He pulled me out of my comfort zone, and he could be a bit brash about it. He recruited me to play football—I came out to play with his encouragement, and I was captain my senior year. He pulled a lot out of me, and made me feel more confident in myself. He pushed me to step off of the sidelines, and onto the front lines. He saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself.
 
What’s a favorite Severn memory? Baseball. It was something I did all four years of high school. Those friendships have lasted. I always enjoyed baseball, but I didn’t realize what an impact it would have on my life. If I remember anything from Severn, I remember time with my teammates and coaches. It was a tightknit group. It was a very happy time.
 
What is the most valuable asset you inherited from your Severn education? A growth mentality. At Severn you are always pushed to keep going, explore options, and grow as a person, a student, and an athlete. You are encouraged to flourish. You feel supported. This enables you to feel comfortable enough to branch out as an adult—to take risks and try new things.
 
What are 3 words to describe Severn school? Formative, community, memorable
 
    • Alex Adams '10 with Carrie MacVean Grimes '91

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