Lifelong Lessons by Graduate Affairs Office
Our job in the graduate affairs office is to create opportunities for graduates to stay connected with Nobles throughout their lives. As we wrote in the Parents' Association Newsletter last year, lasting friendships that support and inspire us are gifts that we, as graduates, have all received from Nobles. These friendships are born in the shared experience of the school, and they keep us connected to this place in meaningful ways.
In addition to those lasting friendships, the lifelong connection between us, as graduates, and the school is reflected in the passions we discovered as students and the life lessons that we internalized during our years here.
Here are a few examples of graduates whose careers were undoubtedly shaped by interests that became passions at Nobles:
Henry Singer ’76, an award-winning documentary film producer, recalls: “The seeds [of my future career] were there at Nobles. I remember the English classes I took with Dick Baker. Another superb English teacher was Rob Shapiro. Both were big influences on me. Through them, I learned an excitement about stories and about ideas, how stories can reveal things about oneself and what it means to be human. Documentaries are essentially about good storytelling.”
Henry’s work includes 9/11: The Falling Man, about a man who jumped to his death from the World Trade Center following the 9/11 attacks and Wootton Bassett–The Town That Remembers, which follows a small English community for one day and meeting those that regularly come together in a ceremony to honour the UK's war dead.
Distinguished Graduate Elizabeth Kopelman Borgwardt '82, whose book A New Deal for the World was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in history and the National Book Award, says that the book originated in John Paine’s history class at Nobles and developed and burgeoned through her undergraduate years at Cambridge University and graduate studies at Harvard and Stanford.
Lindsay Pollack '89, whose experience as art editor of the Nobleman started her on a path that led her from Barnard College to the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and then onto a journalistic career at Bloomberg News, the New York Sun, Art & Auction, ARTnews, Art Review and The Art Newspaper. Lindsay is currently the editor-in-chief of Art in America magazine, and she is the author of The Girl with the Gallery.
Ryan Smith '98 received the Class of '98 Prize, the Sydney Lovett Eaton Prize for excellence in performing arts and the Scudder Prize for excellence in fine arts at Nobles, and went on to earn his Bachelor of Arts in theatre arts from Brown University. Ryan co-founded RCJ Dance in Providence, R.I., and is the co-founder and an artistic director of RAWdance in San Francisco. Ryan returned to Nobles in Feb. 2014 to teach a master class in the new dance studio.
Alexa Walls '06 remains in close contact with Head of Upper School Ben Snyder, whose Genocide class at Nobles instilled in her a passion for humanitarian work. Alexa is a project coordinator at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, which provides expertise in public health, medicine, social science, management and other disciplines to promote evidence-based approaches to humanitarian assistance.
Finally, we hear from graduates time and time again that Nobles shaped them in meaningful ways by imparting some of life’s most salient lessons. Putty McDowell '42 came to Nobles in fall 1937 as a Class V student. As a boarder at Nobles, Putty developed close relationships with his teachers, and in particular with Headmaster Charles Wiggins II, who became “like a grandfather” to him. “Being at Nobles in those years made all the difference in the world in my life. I’m just sure of it,” McDowell explains. “I came away from Nobles feeling that I had to give back more than I took from life. Mr. Wiggins never delivered a special message on the subject. He just exuded the idea that we had an obligation to give back, not just to Nobles but to society as a whole.”
Marzuq Muhammad '01, a current member of the Board of Trustees, describes the important lessons that he learned from the Afternoon Program: “Wrestling was huge for me because it teaches self-discipline, and it compels you to take personal ownership of your own success. At the end of the match, there’s no one to point the finger at but yourself. The sport forces you to prepare for success.”
As we look forward to welcoming members of the Class of 2014 into the graduate ranks this spring, we know that they will leave here enriched by friendship, inspired by their passions and educated as both scholars and people. We hope that they will always feel the same bond with this special place that we do!
Brooke Asnis ’90 and Greg Croak ‘06