ALUMNI PROFILES


Holy Spirit Prep regularly profiles alumni beginning to make their mark in the world. If you know an alum who should be profiled, contact Tim Durski, Director of Marketing and Communications, at communications@holyspiritprep.org

Devon Fernandez
Class of '13
Charlotte Lambert
Class of '07
Elizabeth Hanna Pham,
Class of '08
Ben and Domi Watson
Class of '09
Nigel Deen
Class of '08
Brianna Ryce
Class of '12
Christopher Dale
Class of '06
Blair Brown and Max Jones,
Class of '08
The Head
Class of '10
Taylor Corey
Class of '07
Michael Agrippina
Class of '11
Meg Duggan
(Fitzpatrick)
Class of '06
Alex Galvez
Class of '10
Erica Leinmiller
Class of '09
Richie O'Connell
Class of '10

Richie O'Connell, Class of 2010
July 26, 2017


Richie O’Connell is an alumnus of Holy Spirit Prep Class of 2010. Richie matriculated at the University of Georgia where he became a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity and got involved with the Student Government Association. Through his experience in SGA, Richie was selected to join the Student Alumni Council where he sponsored several popular initiatives for students while working closely with the UGA Alumni Association. Richie credits much of his success at UGA to the social experiences at Holy Spirit Prep. 

“At HSP, I learned to value my community and surround myself with positive influences. HSP also taught me to take initiative and that initiative is something that will be rewarded.”

Richie currently resides in Washington D.C. where he works as a Research Assistant with the House Natural Resources Committee. His committee focuses on management of public lands and mineral, water, and ocean resources, specifically federal fisheries management and Western water and power infrastructure. He attributes his interest in political policy to Ms. Stedman, his AP U.S. Government and AP U.S. History teacher.

“She encouraged debate and always challenged my viewpoints. I learned that any understanding about our present is incomplete without an understanding of our past. I tend to think in black and white terms, and Ms. Stedman was the first one who demonstrated the value of shades of gray.”

Something that Richie values most about his Holy Spirit education was the emphasis placed on learning through debate and discussion of ideas, not shying away from the tough issues. Richie believes that in his field, he has ample opportunities to serve God and others directly through his work. His spiritual foundation was fostered during his time at Holy Spirit Prep.

“The approach to the spiritual life was unique at Holy Spirit. It was one that interwove a spiritual aspect into everyday life. I was always one to ask ‘why’ and question things I was expected to accept, and HSP religious education spent considerable time explaining why we believed certain things.”

Because Richie lives in Washington D.C., he is not able to visit Atlanta as often as he would like. Despite living far from home, Richie is still able to stay connected with the friends he made during his time as a student at Holy Spirit Prep.

“The great thing about being a part of such a tight-knit community was that my friends were also close family friends so I still am able to see many of them at holidays. When I see my old friends, I’m always astounded by the fact that we seem to pick up right where we left off almost instantly.” 

When asked what his plans are for the future, Richie had a unique answer, “To be totally honest, I have no idea. For now I’m taking it one day at a time, but I don’t think I’ll be one to stay in D.C. forever. I will say, though, that I’ve seriously kicked around the idea of opening a barbecue restaurant one day.”

Devon Fernandez, Class of 2013



Devon, what was your experience at HSP? I had a great experience at HSP. With the education of a private school, I was given time to create personal relationships with my teachers and really learn what they had to teach me. The smaller class size allowed me to focus more attentively and create strong work habits. I loved being able to brag to my college friends that I had an education at Hogwarts with our House system.

What’s your favorite HSP memory? One of my favorite HSP moments was my classes’ senior prank. It was fun to be able to come up with pranks that related to the personalities and inside jokes of each teacher. I decided to make my English teacher’s room scary because all the books we had read in his class that year had to do with murder or crime. The class put forth a really creative effort as we stayed there working hard till dark. I also remember how much I enjoyed being able to drive my Jeep onto the quad the next morning.
 
Tell us about your exciting Semester at Sea experience this spring semester! What inspired you to participate in this program? I have always wanted to study abroad for a semester, but couldn’t decide which country I wanted to go to. When I heard about Semester at Sea, sponsored by the University of Virginia, I realized this was the answer to my dilemma. I would go to twelve countries instead! Our ship left from Ensenada, Mexico with 650 students. For the next four months we visited 12 countries including Hawaii, Japan, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Burma, India, Mauritius, South Africa, Namibia, Morocco, and England.

I got the chance to go caving in Vietnam, trek through the terraced tea plantations in the Munnar region of India, balloon over the ancient temples in Bagan, Burma, shark cage dive in South Africa, safari in the beautiful Namibian deserts, and spend some time in the Medina, market area, with my closest friends in Morocco. While I was at sea, I was enrolled in 4 courses including Marine Biology and Travel Writing. What I enjoyed most about the ship was the friendships I made with the other students. There was no cellular service or Internet connection, and this really allowed for close personal relationships to develop.
  
Do you have any interesting opportunities coming up? This summer I am interning at Transitions Productions in New York City. I am really excited to see the inner workings of a company that handles all aspects of production including pre-production, production, and post-production. I will have the opportunity to work on their film set for the Spartan Race this summer. I also can’t wait to explore all the vibrant city of New York has to offer.

What are your plans after you graduate?  Well, my dream has always been to work for the CW Network as a cinematographer. So, hopefully after I graduate I will be working for Warner Brothers and pursuing my dream as the director of photography on one of their television shows.

Would you like to share anything else? In the summer of 2014, I lived on a sailboat in the British Virgin Islands working hard to receive my PADI Professional Divemaster Certification for scuba diving. I spent hours studying for the tests and dived about 6 to 7 times a day to help assist instructors. I believe this was one of my proudest accomplishments.

Charlotte Lambert, Class of 2007



Charlotte, please tell us how your experience at HSP helped shape you into the person you are today? HSP provided me with the skills necessary with which to thrive in college and in “the real world.” During high school all of the teachers and faculty at HSP went above and beyond to provide a foundation for my continued education, scholastically and spiritually.  I have always been a creative-minded individual and the diverse class options that HSP offered helped segue me into pursuing a degree in Industrial Design.  The leadership and public speaking skills that I gained while at HSP helped me to run and become the president of Auburn’s Industrial Designers Society of America chapter while in college.

While at HSP, I was involved in the founding of the Beta Club and our main project was creating a volunteer program to bring extracurricular activities to the Solidarity School.  Seeing such joy on the faces of the kids and volunteers having fun was always such a rewarding experience. This has left a unique mark on me and I strive to volunteer and give back to the community as much as possible.

What’s your favorite HSP memory with the Class of 2007? Some of my fondest memories from HSP center around the time that I spent in the theater department.  From One Act Play classes to theatrical productions,  there was always an exhilarating atmosphere which surrounded all of the productions.  Hours spent in rehearsals and traveling to and from One Act Play competitions cultivated some of the best friendships I had while at HSP!

Can you tell us about your company, Southern Draw Designs, and how you had the idea to start it? What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs? Any neat recent projects? Would you like to share about your experience working as a contract product designer with Creative Marketing Associates? I’m a firm believer that if you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life! I can truly say that working as a contract product designer for Creative Marketing Associates allows me to do just that. I started my own company, Southern Draw Designs, about two years ago so that I could work in a contract position for Creative Marketing Associates. I design apparel, home-goods, and jewelry items for companies like Coca Cola, Grand Ole Opry, Paula Deen, SMI Motor-Speedways, The Loveless Café, Universal Studios, and Kawasaki to name a few.  It’s such an incredibly rewarding experience to be able to see items that I design on the computer go to sample, production, and be sold in the market.  I’ve actually been out in Atlanta and have seen people wearing apparel that I’ve designed! The projects that I work on change on a daily basis but I can honestly say that one of the coolest properties that I’ve designed items for is Harry Potter at Universal Studios.

To all aspiring entrepreneurs out there I would just like to say that you shouldn’t be afraid to just go for it: starting your own company can seem daunting but you’ll never know how rewarding it can be if you don’t try.

What other aspirations do you have for the future? My fiancé and I just purchased our first house and I’m very excited to have some space to start working on my own furniture designs. In college, I developed a passion for wood-working and would love to get to a point where I can market and sell my own furniture.

Charlotte resides in Atlanta and holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Design from Auburn University.

Elizabeth Hanna Pham, Class of 2008



Elizabeth, you attended HSP from elementary school to high school. How did your time at HSP help form you into the person you are today? I always used to say that HSP was like a family and I still look at it that way. You got the feeling people cared about you as a whole person— about your life and your future and your happiness, not just your grades and where you got into college. That kind of environment allowed me to feel more confident in myself, in God’s love for me, and in who I was meant to become.

What are your thoughts on HSP’s Mission and HSP’s Portrait of a Graduate?  I think those are beautiful summaries of much of what HSP gave me. I feel HSP nurtured my prudence in particular. In religion classes, history classes, literature classes, Mass, and in casual conversations, I had so many discussions with teachers and other students about “the right thing to do” in a given circumstance. In my time at HSP I knew so many people so passionate about developing prudence.

What’s your best memory from your HSP years? The trip to Rome was definitely one of my best experiences at HSP. But some of my fondest memories were the simple things like hanging out with friends after school, making music around the piano, and celebrating Christmas together. One of the fun things about being the third graduating class was getting to witness a lot of firsts: first homecoming dance, first winning football game, etc. Those things really made us more of a family. I do still keep in touch with many of my HSP friends— a few of them are some of my very best friends. 

You are a prolific writer with your own blogs and are often invited to write on other well-known Catholic sites. What themes do you enjoy covering the most? Can you give us an update on your book? What advice do you have for aspiring writers? I like to write about most things as long as they are things I can form an opinion about! On my own blog some recurring themes are dating, marriage, parenthood, wellness, culture, and personal fulfillment. When contributing to Christian websites and newspapers I usually focus on the conflicts and opportunities that come with applying faith to our culture and world. My first novel, The Best Years, will be published in May 2015. It is a fiction coming-of-age story about a girl struggling with her world and with the meaning of her life. My advice to aspiring writers: write every day. Once you (and someone you trust) feel confident that what you’ve written is good and important, get over your fear of rejection, and put it out in the world. You’ll drive yourself crazy if you don’t!

Elizabeth holds a Bachelors of Art in Philosophy from the University of Georgia. She is happily married to An Pham and is the mother of one-and-a-half year-old Joseph. She resides in Atlanta, Georgia. Her personal website is www.degreesinidealism.com. She has published in various newspapers and journals, in particular: Crisis Magazine, The Christian Review and New Feminism.

Ben and Domi (Thomas) Watson, Class of 2009

 

Ben and Dominique started dating in May 2008, at the end of their junior year at HSP. Despite going to different colleges four states from each other, the couple endured, and, after graduating college, were married on July 5, 2014.

How did your experience at HSP help form you into the person you are today? How did this unique community support your friendship as students at HSP which has now blossomed into a marriage?

Ben: Academics at HSP were very different than small town Missouri and HSP really helped me get into the Naval Academy. The spiritual life and relationships I formed helped me grow as a person. All the sports, especially football, made me disciplined and kept me in shape. The friends and mentors I had at HSP supported my relationship with Domi in high school and are still there for us today.

Domi: The teachers and lifelong friends I made at HSP always encouraged me to be a better person than I was the day before. Whether it was in class, on the soccer field with Coach Radosta, or hanging out with friends, I knew I had the support of everyone no matter what. The spiritual aspect of HSP was incredible and helped me further develop my relationship with God. Ben and I always had the support of our friends while at HSP, which continued when Ben and I went to separate colleges. It was comforting to know we had friends rooting for us the whole time. 

Was there a specific experience or particular teacher at HSP who kindled a desire in you to go into your field of choice? How do you hope to serve God and others through your field?

Ben: I think the best preparation I had for the military came from the football field. I try to serve God and others every day through my job in the Marine Corps.

Domi: I think all the teachers impacted me in some way or another. I always wanted to help people and make a difference in a child’s life. I know my experiences at HSP will help me to make that difference! I truly hope to serve God by being a positive influence and making a difference in a child’s life.

Best memory from HSP?

Domi: Oh goodness, it’s hard to just pick one! How can I pick from class trips, soccer and track seasons, Rome, and just being in class with my friends?! Senior lock-ins were always so much fun too! There’s no way I can pick just one. We had too much fun!

Ben: It’s impossible to pick one because there are too many.

Can you tell us about your experience as students in the United States Naval Academy and North Georgia College and State University?

Ben: The Naval Academy was an experience I can’t put in a few sentences. It’s college but not really college at the same time. The lessons I learned there are the reasons for my current success in the Corps. I was on the Superintendent’s list almost every semester and am now part of the Golden Key Club.

Domi: I had a great experience at North Georgia! After freshman year, I became a Resident Assistant and did that until I graduated. I absolutely loved it! I was in charge of freshman girls the entire time. I really tried to give my girls the best freshman experience. Many of them became best friends, and I enjoyed watching them grow into young women throughout the year.

Can you tell us about a recent neat experience?

Ben: Marrying Domi was the best experience of my life. Moving to North Carolina and starting my job as a platoon commander has been rewarding on a personal and professional level.

Domi: Getting married and moving to a small North Carolina town! It’s definitely been an adjustment from Atlanta, but I love it so far.

Plans for the future?

Ben: I hope to be on deployment in the near future.

Domi: I plan on going to graduate school next fall and then we plan on starting a family once I finish!

Dominique Watson holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and is a Certified Nursing Assistant. Ben Watson holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics and is a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. They are happily married and reside in Sneads Ferry, North Carolina.

Nigel Deen, Class of '08

 

Nigel what are some of your favorite memories from HSP? My best memories were made around the lunch table, in the bus on the way to games, in the locker room before games, and in the classroom. HSP had a lot of personalities and I’m glad I got to spend quality time with those people: my classmates and my teachers. 

Mr. Radosta, Ms. Defillippi, and Dr. Voss expanded my literary appetite and exposed me to a diverse range of books. Ms. Defilippis’s This I Believe project got us to write a speech, stand up in front of the entire class, and deliver it. It was an amazing introduction into public speaking. I also enjoyed the philosophical debates in Mr. Verlander’s class. I was privileged to be taught religion by two different teaching styles. Mr. Verlander forced us to go back and forth with one another so we managed to discover the answers through our dialogue. Ms. Hunter-Kilmer allowed us to pepper her with tough, gritty questions. Both teaching styles allowed me to express my thoughts and to learn from others in the classroom. Mrs. Lee’s AP Bio class, Mr. Petrauskis' physics and calculus classes - I have good memories all around. Dr. Evans and Mr. Pietrantonio got us into Latin; it’s hard to get teenagers to learn a dead language, but they taught it well and we learned and appreciated it. I have a collection of great memories from football and basketball; anyone witnessing the HSP vs. Pinecrest games from 2005-2008 remembers the fun, stress, and anxiety caused by those games.

How did your time at HSP prepare you or encourage you to study Neurobiology? Are there any particular teachers who inspired you? After you've been in a room with my dad, you start to understand his passion for learning. When you've lived with him, it starts to rub off on you. I carried this passion for learning to college. I studied neurobiology mainly because I wanted to learn something new, but also because I didn't want to stop learning biology - I wanted to go deeper into the subject. Also, a number of pre-med classes double counted for the major so I felt that I could kill two birds with one stone. It was challenging but interesting; it’s incredible but it’s a field that is constantly changing as we learn more and more about our brains and our interactions with the world around us.

Can you tell us about your experience as a student at Harvard? I enjoyed my experience at Harvard. I started studying global health and health policy during my sophomore year and ended up getting a minor in it. At the time, Sierra Leone had the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. My sister and I are second-generation Sierra Leoneans, so I was drawn to the topic. I managed to get a job as a research assistant and studied the quality of care in Sierra Leone; I focused on the causes of maternal and infant mortality. I spent 5 weeks on the ground in Sierra Leone collecting data - I interviewed 75 women and recorded their maternal history. It was insightful, thought provoking, and it changed the way I think about healthcare. When I came back I dedicated my time to studying maternal mortality - the causes and solutions. It’s a topic that drives everything I do. You can tell a lot about a country by looking at the health of its women and children.

How do you aspire to serve God and the world through your field? What are your plans for your future? I seek justice and equality in healthcare. Much of the work that I’m passionate about centers on ensuring equal access to high quality care regardless of race, income, creed, or gender. The story of Jesus cleansing the temple comes to mind - health equity drives me and I get fired up about the topic. We’re brought into this world by the grace of God; I think it’s important to recognize the potential of our society and the improvements that we still need to make in order to realize an equitable healthcare system. With regard to my future - it depends. I've spent the last two years working for a healthcare nonprofit and I’m moving on to a healthcare tech company. I plan to go to grad school at some point but I want to make sure I have plenty of work experience under my belt to guide my decision. My passions lie in health tech, health equity, maternal and child health, and community organizing. I’ll find a path that binds all of that together into something meaningful. I'm blessed with a great support system and a number of mentors to help me. Right now my main focus is to learn as much as I can and to gain valuable work experience along the way.

Can you tell us about a recent neat experience? I recently got to tour with mobile health clinics in Boston - these are folks that have transformed RVs, vans, trucks, etc. into moving clinics and who are providing care to under-served areas of Boston. It was amazing to talk with them, to listen to their breakthroughs, challenges, and barriers. It was also amazing to see how innovative they were. They deal with cost constraints but manage to find creative ways to deliver care under trying circumstances. I learned a lot from them and it’s an area I will monitor closely.

Nigel Deen graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts in Neurobiology. He currently resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he most currently served as a Research Assistant for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. 

Brianna Ryce, Class of '12

 

Brianna, how did your experience at Holy Spirit Prep help form you into the person you are today? My experience at HSP has helped immensely in my college studies. Particularly, the level of difficulty of HSP schoolwork has helped me to not feel overwhelmed by the amount of homework that I receive on a daily basis in college. 

In addition, HSP’s commitment to giving back to the community has stuck with me in college. At HSP, I participated in Moda Real, a program that helps young girls learn about modesty and inner beauty. By seeing the importance of service and generosity while I was at HSP, I chose to continue volunteering at DePaul. 

Can you tell us about your experience as a student at DePaul University? Tell us about a recent neat project, internship, club or hobby with which you’ve been involved.
DePaul University has been a great place to go to college. By attending a university in the city of Chicago, I am able to live and experience life in a big city. Furthermore, I am able to apply what I learn in my business classes directly into the growing and renown business culture of Chicago.

Through DePaul’s Career Center, I was able to participate in a paid work opportunity with United States Soccer Federation. I received this opportunity when I was a freshman. As a first year college student, I did not have any legitimate business experience under my belt. I am extremely grateful for the Career Center at DePaul because without them, I would not have been able to network and receive the great opportunity to work for U.S. Soccer Federation. 

Brianna, you’re on the Blue Demons varsity soccer team. How did HSP’s soccer program prepare you for the college level? Any advice for female athletes interested in pursuing college athletics? I played midfielder and forward my freshman year at DePaul. This past season, I played center-back in order to assist my team in an area that we had a short amount of players, due to injuries. 

HSP’s soccer program helped prepare me for the college level because I was able to take on a leadership role. At the college level, leadership is very important. At HSP, I was able to be captain for my junior and senior year; and thus, I was able to learn the value of being a leader in my effort and attitude on and off the field.

My advice to females pursuing college athletics would be to not be afraid to seem “unlady like”. Throughout my sports career, I was constantly afraid that playing a sport would make me seem too tough or too “manly”. From my experience, I know this mindset is especially evident among high school girls. My advice is that if you truly love playing a sport, you should not worry about appearing to be “manly”. Working hard and playing your best is neither a feminine or masculine quality. I want young female athletes to realize that the popular, masculine opinion of athletics needs to be broken in order for more females to succeed in sports.

What’s your favorite memory from HSP? My favorite memory from HSP would have to be Mrs. Askins’s AP Spanish class. I can remember every student in that class being completely different, but somehow we became close friends by the end of the year. Mrs. Askins allowed us to learn the Spanish language in a fun, yet productive way that also gave us a chance to showcase are unique personalities!

What are your plans after DePaul? My plan after DePaul is to stay deeply involved in sports. Either through playing professionally or business, I want to stay connected to the sports world. Ideally, after graduation, I will continue training and playing soccer in order to participate in a World Cup for the United States Women’s Senior team.

Brianna Ryce is pursuing a degree in Marketing with a double minor in Spanish and International Business from DePaul University.

Chris Dale, Class of '06

Chris Dale in the cockpit of a craft at Boeing, where he works as an engineer.
Chris, his wife Michelle, and their dog.
Andres Guzman with Chris Dale at HSP's first graduation.

 

Chris, you were a member of the first graduating class of Holy Spirit Prep. Any cool “firsts” you got to experience? Being part of the first graduating class was a really unique experience.  The school did a good job of involving our class in helping form the foundation for the classes who would come after us.  We got to play an integral part of establishing everything from clubs to traditions.

If I had to pick just one favorite memory, I'd have to go with HSP's first ever football victory.  While I wasn't a member of the football team, I travelled to lots of the games.  In only the second year of the football program, we got a win, and everybody went nuts.  We rushed the field, jumped around with the players, it was amazing.  The game was at least an hour away from HSP, but everyone on the bus ride back was still ecstatic at the end of the trip home.

Our senior class trip to Rome was also incredible.  I mean, how many students get that kind of opportunity?  I'm so glad that the Rome trip has continued to happen year after year.

One final favorite memory was graduation day.  Sure, it was bittersweet, knowing that you and your close friends from the past four years would be going their separate ways, but I know everyone had such a great feeling of accomplishment. The students, parents, faculty, everyone had taken risks to attempt to found a school, so when it all came to fruition everyone was just so proud.

I keep in touch with quite a few of my classmates, both from my class and the year below.  Several classmates went to Georgia Tech while I was there, and some even joined my fraternity.  One of the guys who joined my fraternity, Matt Crane, ended up attending University of Washington while I was working for Boeing in Seattle, so it was nice to have an old friend in a new town.  Andres Guzman and I had the exact same schedule our senior year at HSP, so we got pretty close.  Then we both went to Tech, we joined the same fraternity, and he ended up being my best man at my wedding!

You studied Aerospace Engineering at Georgia Tech and are currently pursuing a Masters from Purdue University in Aeronautics and Astronautics. How and why did you became interested in becoming in engineer? My interest in science and all things space was kindled long before I ever stepped foot on HSP's grounds.  I attended a parent/child weekend at Space Camp as a young boy, and I was instantly hooked.  Given that I loved science and space, engineering was the logical choice.  There was a definitive moment where I knew I wanted to be an engineer, and that was the first time I ever saw the movie Apollo 13.  Specifically, it was the scene where they are trying to fix the carbon dioxide filter.  An engineer comes in with a box of everything the astronauts have available to them on the vehicle, and says "We've got to find a way to make this [square canister] fit into the hole for this [round canister] .... using nothing but that."  So cool!

HSP did give me lots of opportunities to expand my knowledge of science.  For such a small, new school, there were quite a few science classes and electives offered.  I was able to take Biology freshman year, AP Biology and Chemistry sophomore year, AP Chemistry and Physics junior year, and AP Physics and Organic and Biochemistry senior year.  By the time I left HSP, my knowledge of chemistry was so good that my chemistry class at Georgia Tech was easy, and I was able to make good money as a chemistry tutor!

Can you share with us any neat internships or projects in which you’ve been involved as an Aeronautics and Astronautics engineer? Definitely the coolest project I've been involved in was the Mars Desert Research Station.  The station is located in a remote area in Utah, which has land formations that are somewhat comparable to those found on Mars.  The purpose of the station is to study the kinds of everyday situations that could arise when we put humans on Mars.  Everything from growing plants to power generation to performing tasks while in a spacesuit are taken into account.  I was the chief engineer for the crew from the Georgia Tech Mars Society, responsible for keeping the power going, performing maintenance on the water system, as well as making sure the 4-wheelers used for the Extra Vehicular Activities (EVAs) were operational.  It was such a unique experience, and probably the closest I'll ever come to being an astronaut.

What are your plans after graduate school? Right now, I plan to relax and enjoy some free time!  Working full time while taking classes in the evenings is tough!  That being said, it’s a great opportunity and will help open doors for my career.  I plan to continue working for Boeing designing the Space Launch System at least until the first launch, scheduled for 2017.  Working for NASA would definitely be amazing, but I could see myself staying with Boeing for my whole career.  Right now, NASA is my customer, so I get to work with NASA even though I don't work for them.

Any advice for students interested in pursuing a career in engineering? Definitely make sure to get a firm grasp on math, specifically calculus.  Most engineering classes assume that you have a working knowledge of calculus.  Having a strong foundation in math will really help make the classes more manageable, allowing you to focus on learning about the engineering problems, and not getting stuck on the math tools needed to solve those problems.

Internships or co-ops also are invaluable.  Companies are looking for new hires who have real world work experience.  Having a 4.0 GPA is great, but not if you got that by doing nothing but studying, never getting involved in outside projects or organizations.  Make sure you get involved in clubs or organizations, both within your field of interest as well as just for recreation and other passions you may have.  A well-rounded resume is much more than just your GPA.  It needs to show that you have a drive to accomplish things, can work as a team, and when you get an interview, they will want to hear about your real-life experiences.  Study hard, work hard and play hard, and you'll be well on your way to success.

Chis Dale holds a Bachelor’s degree from Georgia Tech in Aerospace Engineering and is currently working on a Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering from Purdue University. He is happily married to Michelle Belsante Dale. They reside in Huntsville, Alabama, where Chris works as a Reliability and Maintainability Engineer for the Boeing Company.

Blair Brown and Max Jones, Head Girl and Head Boy, Class of '08


Max Jones and Blair Brown, while still at HSP

Blair and Max, I find it so neat how God has paved your lives with such similar paths. You were the Head Girl and the Head Boy of the Class of 2008 at HSP. You attended Sewanee, where you both played varsity sports and graduated Magna Cum Laude. Now you are graduate students at Georgia State Law School.

Blair, how did your experience as a student leader at HSP help form you into the person you are today? Did you always consider a career in law? Being a student leader at HSP definitely shaped who I am today in several ways. It taught me how to interact with my peers both as friends and as colleagues working together for a common purpose. I learned the value of giving back to the community by leading the Habitat for Humanity project. Being a student leader taught me how to communicate effectively and work with the different styles other people have. Overall, my experience at HSP led to me to be the respectful, confident, and independent person I am today. I knew I wanted to go to law school in high school as I had an interest in government and debate. Mr. P’s H-period constitutional law class also gave me a glimpse of what I could learn in the future and how law affects everyday life.

Max, can you tell me how your experience at HSP helped to kindle a desire in you to pursue a career in law? From HSP I learned the value of a work ethic combined with time management skills. As the saying goes, “tides wait for no man.” At Holy Spirit Prep, I learned at an early age the importance of wisely organizing your time by allocating what is important and pursuing it passionately and relentlessly with a good support system. The amount of activities and programs offered at HSP truly allows students to fruitfully use their time in a variety of ways, while at the same time teaching them how to succeed and achieve balance among demanding commitments. These skills are undeniably essential for a successful career in law. Moreover, I appreciate the great teachers I studied under at HSP. They enkindled in me a deep curiosity to learn about the world in which I live. It’s funny, but some of the greatest lessons I learned in school were not taken from textbooks or lectures, nor through the appeasement of the AP gods. Rather, it was from the teachers who offered an insightful perspective on life, sharing colorful anecdotes and subtle life lessons. It was these moments that sparked the kind of unscratchable curiosity that fuels a liberal arts education.

Blair, can you tell us a little bit about your experience as the Executive Director of the GSU Law Review? Being on the GSU Law Review is a lot of work, but very rewarding. It is a great feeling knowing that I contribute in producing an emerging journal, which might be used in the future for resolving conflicts in the law. The experience of writing my own article on an unresolved legal topic was interesting, as I became an expert in the law of surrogacy contracts.

Max, can you share your favorite part about having been the offensive lineman for the Sewanee Tigers? My favorite part about playing football in college was the camaraderie that ripened among the players. The constant struggles and challenges we faced as a team helped instill a deep bond, similar to what I experienced in the HSP community. I greatly enjoyed playing football. However, what I appreciate the most is the day-to-day sharing and bonding, almost putting the local Chinese buffets out of business. The lifestyle was exciting but also exhausting; we’d go through an excruciating night practice, stay up until two in the morning to finish papers, and wake up early for morning practice. This is where the work ethic and time management skills I took out of my experience at HSP really helped me succeed as a student-athlete. 

Blair, you played varsity golf at Sewanee. Any advice for female athletes interested in pursuing college athletics? There are many opportunities in college athletics for women, especially in ones typically considered predominantly male. I walked onto the women’s golf team at Sewanee, so I would tell high school girls to just go for it. Even if not recruited for a sport, there is no harm in trying and it may be the activity you enjoy most in college. Also, club athletics are a great way to get involved and still play your favorite sport without the time commitment to a varsity sport.

Max, best memory from HSP? Eating prosciutto at 3am with all my closest HSP buddies in Rome right before graduation, reminiscing about our time at HSP: the good, the bad, and the realization of knowing that we would likely never all see this exact group in one place ever again. Pretty somber. But my favorite memory.

Blair, what’s your favorite high school memory? It is hard to single out one memory from my four years, but all my best memories of HSP revolve around the House System, especially House Days. I loved the sense of teamwork and the interaction between grade levels. Go Nicaea! Also, I will never forget my first day of high school being in the dark in McDonough Hall.

Blair, what are your plans after law school? Any advice for students interested in pursuing a career in law? After law school I plan on practicing in transactional law (i.e. no trials), yet this may change over my last year of school. For anyone considering a career in the law, I recommend they do their research and make sure law is really what they want to do. While a rewarding experience, law school is a big investment of time, money, and emotion.

Max? For now, I don’t have a plan set in stone. However, I am considering a law career in the realm of public interest by working for a federal agency, the military or a non-profit. I will cross that bridge when I get there.

Blair holds a Baccalaureate Degree in Global Studies, French Language, and Literature. Max holds a Baccalaureate Degree in History. They are both active members of the Holy Spirit Prep Alumni Association. 

The Head: Jack Shaw, Mike Shaw, and Jacob Morrell, Class of '10

 

 

Mike and I are both Writing majors at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD-Atlanta Campus), and Jacob is a Psychology major at Georgia State University. HSP has had a huge influence on who we are as band. We could always count on both students and faculty to attend our shows throughout high school. They'd not only buy our merchandise, but would also spread the word to their friends at other schools. HSP was also nice enough to let us host charity concerts when we were students. In a way, the HSP community formed the beginning stages of our fan base, and we are very grateful for that.

Pete Radosta is one of the teachers who really inspired us to pursue music. He always told us to stick to our passion regardless of what others said. He not only attended every show of ours back in high school, but he also accompanied us during our first tour up the East Coast in the summer of 2011. He helped manage the tour and would endure the sleepless nights with us. It was a blast. To this day, he can still be spotted at Head shows both in Atlanta and beyond. Pete is a great teacher, mentor, and friend.

We formed in 2007 during our freshman year of high school. We came up with "The Head" after watching an episode of That '70s Show in which one of the characters inherits a record store and names it "The Head." We wanted to have a name with "The" in front of it (like all those '60s bands), but we also wanted a name that sounded weird, so "The Head" seemed to fit well for us. Some our biggest influences include The Beatles, REM, the Stone Roses, Wilco, and Queen, among many others.

All three of us write the songs. It is a collaborative effort in which we all share songwriting credit. Some songs develop spontaneously from band rehearsals, while others are more carefully planned out. It really all depends. Since 2007, we've experimented with more harmonies than ever and have also expanded our instrumentation to include harmonicas, keyboards, and sometimes a little bit of banjo. Our music still has that high-powered energy, but we've definitely learned to incorporate instruments beyond guitar, bass and drums.

Our biggest aspiration as a band is to hit the road full time once we graduate college in 2014. Upon graduation, we'll be releasing our sixth record and will also be embarking on a year-long tour in support of its release.

You can access all our music and show schedules at: www.theheadmusic.com.

You can also be more updated on our shows by tracking "The Head (Official)" on Bandsintown.com

For students who are interested in pursuing music, never give up. I know it sounds cliche, but it's true. Persistence will take you places. Make sure to leave your ego behind and always be nice. Being nice also takes you a long way. 

Our most memorable moment to date is opening for the English Beat on the northeastern leg of their tour this past summer 2013. We had a great time and met some great people.  Our next show is in Atlanta on Saturday, December 7 at Smith's Olde Bar, where we'll be opening for the White Animals. The show starts at 8 and is ages 18+. We invite the HSP community to attend.

Taylor Corey, Class of '07

 
Taylor Corey, Class of '07
Taylor's adorable twin boys, James and Bryce.

 

Taylor, you were a member of the second graduating class of Holy Spirit Prep. Can you tell us about your experience as an HSP student?  I went to a different high school before going to Holy Spirit Prep. Before HSP , I was very distant from my faith (actually, I barely knew what “being Catholic” meant); I was not interested in academic or athletic participation. My parents’ decision to enroll me at HSP changed my life. Although I wasn’t the best athlete, I was able to play on the soccer team thanks to HSP’s no-cut policy, which allows students to participate in all kinds of extracurricular activities. I know I gave Mr. Radosta several strokes during my time on his team! I appreciate most of all the lifelong friends I was able to make during my high school career. In fact, two of my high school classmates were bridesmaids in my wedding, and we are currently planning a weekend to get together in a destination city!

So many people from the Holy Spirit Prep community influenced me in vast ways that it’s hard to count! Many of these influential people were my own peers, with whom I wish I kept in touch. Others were teachers, such as Ms. Dardis and Ms. Hunter-Kilmer , my theology teachers, who helped me find the faith I now pass on to my three-year-old twin boys. I am grateful for Dr. Deen and Ms. Kenyon, my history and math teachers,  for challenging me to think outside the box; for Ms. Rombalski , my art teacher,  for always being there for me;, and for Mrs. Browning for tolerating me and helping me through my “high school drama.” Most especially, I am grateful for the way Mr. Genner expected the most out of me by always pushing me harder and harder to do my very best in everything. I am certain that I would not be the person that I am nor be as successful as I have been had I not attended Holy Spirit Prep.

Can you tell us about your experience as a student at Spring Hill College? I was involved in the nursing program at Spring Hill and thoroughly enjoyed it. Being at a Jesuit college, I was able to continue a journey of learning about my faith. I urge anyone who is considering a small college near Atlanta to consider visiting their absolutely beautiful campus!

Any neat hobbies?  I wish I had time for a hobby! I recently started my own business and, as I mentioned before, I have three year old twins: I would call that an accomplishment! James and Bryce are my biggest blessing. They teach me something new everyday! I actually had their baptism at Holy Sprit Catholic Church; family and friends from all over the country attended, including Mr. Genner and Fr . Paul.

I understand you are a real estate agent in Miami! How did you become interested in real estate? What is the best advice you can give a student who is interested in going into this field?  Both of my parents are involved in real estate. My mom was an agent and my dad is an auctioneer. I’d say ‘it’s in my blood.’ When my family moved to Miami, I decided to go for my license and see what would happen. With a lot of hard work and great family support, I started my own real estate agency, The Corey Group, and have sold over $8 million this year. I have qualified for New Agent of the Year through Coldwell Banker and have appeared in media articles in outlets such as the Miami Urbanist . I advise anyone who is interested in real estate to go for it! Being a real estate agent is tough and very time consuming. There is no such thing as a “weekend’’ or 9-to-5 if you want to be successful, but you get out of it what you put in! You work for yourself and help people find their dream homes- what beats that?

Michael Agrippina, Class of '11

Michael Agrippina, Class of '11
Michael with his brother Andrew, Class of '15

 

Michael, what was your spiritual, athletic, intellectual, and social experience at Holy Spirit Prep?  My experience at HSP really tied together all of those aspects in a wonderful way.

Spiritually, I enjoyed discussions in religion class, the opportunity to frequently receive sacraments, and singing in the choir with my classmates. I loved having access to the chapel all the time—if you were ever having a tough day, you could step in and get some peace. It was also special to prepare for and receive Confirmation with my classmates.

I embraced the athletics at HSP and had some of my best memories on our courts and fields. The no-cut policy and small size of the school gave me the opportunity to participate in six varsity sports. Basketball was always my favorite and my senior year the team won twenty games and finished second in our region. I stopped playing soccer in middle school, but the coach encouraged me to play my senior year and I got a chance to be a part of that region champion team, another awesome memory.

Intellectually, HSP always gave me the opportunity to push myself in the classroom. With a wide array of AP and college-level classes on my plate, I learned solid study habits that have carried over to college. Taking classes from experienced professors like Dr. Voss and Dr. Devine prepared me for the rigor of the college classroom. The environment of academic discussion and curiosity that flourished at HSP was one of the things that led me to a liberal arts college.

Socially, I made some of my best friends in my time at HSP. I’m still in touch with a few classmates and love seeing everyone at alumni events. I’ll always remember roadtripping to away games with a crew of Cougar fans, tucking in our ties to play basketball at lunch, and hanging out in the library or Cougar Café after school.

You took on many leadership positions when you were a student at HSP. Can you tell us how they prepared you for life outside high school?  I was always involved in the House system and served as the President of the House of Trent my senior year. I learned a lot from the experience—I had never tried to lead that many people before. Talking to a quarter of the school every week at assembly gave me a confidence in my public speaking skills that has served me well in college.

My senior year, I also served as the Battalion Commander of the Joint Forces Corps of Cadets (JFCC). My experiences in the Naval Sea Cadets and JFCC really instilled discipline in me and gave me mental toughness.

I learned many lessons from my time as captain and chaplain of the basketball team my senior year. I believe that you’re always part of a team in some capacity, whether in the office or for a group project in class. My leadership experience at HSP prepared me to excel on any team.

How did your time at HSP encourage you to go into your field of study?  I am currently double majoring in Mass Communication and Business Administration. My passion for Mass Communication started at HSP , where I had the opportunity to take a broadcast journalism class and do some projects in the school’s recording studio. I always had a passion for writing and communication, but I didn’t know how to channel it. Mr. Haley was a role model and mentor to me who guided me to mass communication. He shared many lessons that he had learned through all of his experiences and showed a genuine interest in helping me.

Can you tell us about your experience as a student at Washington and Lee?  Washington and Lee has been an amazing experience. It’s only about 2,000 undergraduate students, which made for a smooth transition for me from HSP . As a liberal arts school, it allowed me to explore many different fields of study. Coming out of high school, I had little idea what I wanted to study, so I appreciated the opportunity to take my time figuring it out.

I was recruited to play basketball at W&L, but ended up getting hurt right before the season freshman year. I talked to the track coach and he gave me the chance to try out as a thrower, where I had no real experience. I picked it up pretty quickly and have finished top ten in our conference the past two years in javelin and hammer throw.

I serve as Social Media Chair for One in Four, a student group dedicated to preventing sexual violence on campus. We lead discussion groups for freshmen to educate them and train them to be active bystanders. It has given me the opportunity to make a difference on campus while gaining communication experience in social media as I run the group’s Twitter account.

I’m also Treasurer of the Society of Professional Journalists, which ties together my communication and business interests, and stay involved in the Catholic Campus Ministry.

Can you tell us about a recent neat experience? Washington and Lee finishes the academic year with a month-long Spring Term where students only take one class. Last Spring Term, I took a business class called Creative Strategic Planning. Our professor got in touch with the Manager of Interactive Advertising for FedEx, who tasked us with revising the brand strategy for FedEx Office in the millennial market. It was a new and challenging experience that gave me a chance to understand the process of brand planning, from market research to competitive reviews. At the end of the term, we traveled up to Washington, D.C. and presented our plan to the FedEx Manager. It was very well received and gave me experience that served me well in my internship this summer in the Marketing Department of Dickey Broadcasting.

What are your plans after Washington and Lee?  That’s in God’s hands! I still have a couple of years to figure everything out, but right now I am exploring fields that combine business and communication—something along the lines of consulting, marketing, or PR. I’m also thinking about applying to Notre Dame’s ACE Service through Teaching program, which produced many of my favorite HSP teachers and coaches. Although I don’t know if I want to be a teacher long-term, I would treasure the opportunity to teach and serve for a couple of years while growing in my faith and earning a Master of Education degree. I’ve reached out to some former teachers who were in ACE and have received some great advice.

Meg Duggan (FitzPatrick), Class of '06

Meg on the job as a nurse.

Meg with her father on her wedding day.

Meg and her husband Matthew.

 

Meg, you were a member of the first graduating class of Holy Spirit Prep. Can you share with me the most memorable experience you cherish from your time at HSP? The most memorable experiences are all of the “firsts” that happened, since we were the first class to experience pretty much everything – dances, retreats, lock-ins, pranks, trips – you name it and we probably did it first. We transitioned to the new campus from our sophomore to junior year. It was really fantastic to feel like the new campus could be ours and a place to leave a legacy once we were gone. I remember finding the first gargoyle in our senior year, in Mr. Genner’s ceiling in his office, and then we set off fireworks near the fountain to celebrate. That was awesome. I keep in touch with a few of my classmates, mostly through Facebook, but what I really enjoy the most is seeing everyone so happy with their careers and families. I also try to attend the Christmas Eve brunch if I’m not working.

Speaking of work, you practice nursing now. Can you tell me how you became interested in becoming a nurse? I never thought I was going to become a nurse. My mom has been a nurse now for 30+ years at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and when I was 15, I started volunteering at the hospital, working with sick kids and their families. It was at that time that I knew I could spend the rest of my life taking care of sick kids and making a difference by becoming a nurse. I love taking care of people, and I’m a huge nerd when it comes to medicine and science. I wouldn’t say that anyone in particular from HSP encouraged me to be a nurse, but I will say that Mrs. Lee and Mr. Verlander were two of the best role models for me. They both had so much passion for teaching and specifically for their subject matter, biology and theology, respectively, that I knew that I could be successful as long as I pursued my passion. Once that clicked, everything else fell into place and I realized God’s plan for me was to be an ICU nurse. Mr. Genner was also a great mentor when I was in high school and he continues to advise me about my professional goals now.

Can you share with us a neat internship you were involved in while studying at Mercer University? While I was at Georgia Baptist College of Nursing at Mercer University, I was on the Georgia Association of Nursing Students (GANS) as Legislative Director. The year before that I also served in the same role but at the school-wide level. In those two years as Legislative Director, I learned a lot about legislation and what it takes to affect change. I was a voice for student nurses and the future of nursing. I never knew I could motivate, empower, and cultivate leaders like that before I took that role. I also was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nurses, which was my proudest accomplishment in nursing school.

I understand that you work at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, how has your faith strengthened you to carry out your daily duties? My faith has been such an important part of my nursing vocation. I pursued nursing because I felt God call me towards it, but once I started my career, I quickly saw how my faith would be tested in my day-to-day life. I see some of the most critically sick kids in the South East. Sometimes kids are born with chronic and/or terminal diseases and other kids are perfectly healthy until they get into a freak accident one day. Sometimes kids grow up in really unsafe homes with parents who neglect them or even abuse them. I see really sad things. It’s hard not to pass judgment sometimes, it’s hard to accept that bad things happen to good people, and it’s hard to grapple with what’s right and wrong. There are so many gray areas; it’s never black and white. I’ve learned to stop carrying the burden of worry, anger, fear, sadness, and let it go by giving it to God. I have to or I can’t do my job.  

What is the best advice you can give someone who is interested in or on the way to a becoming a nurse? The best advice I can give someone who is considering nursing is to volunteer or shadow someone who is a nurse, and if you already know what specialty area, try to shadow someone in that field. I’ve had a few HSP alumni shadow me, email me, and call me just to get an idea of whether they might like nursing. I think that’s fantastic. Talk to as many people that you can and you’ll know pretty quickly if you are going to like it or not. Nursing is very tough but very rewarding, and you’ll always have a job.

Can you tell us a little about what it is like to be a military wife? Well, my husband Matthew was in the Army from 2006-2012. He and I met on eHarmony when I was in nursing school and he was in Iraq. He used to be a door gunner on Blackhawk helicopters and a mechanic on Apache helicopters. Long story short, we’ve spent a lot of time long distance, but when you love someone, you’ll tough it out as long as you know there is light at the end of the tunnel. For us, that was when he was getting out of the military in May 2012. Since then he’s been finishing his bachelor’s degree at Georgia State and we now live in Buford, GA, in the same neighborhood as my parents. We have two cats: our 15-pound cat, Mr. Chubbs and Darwin, our tiny black kitten. 

Alex Galvez, Class of '10

Alex was captain of the HSP football team his senior year.

Alex with his family.

Alex with his mom, Gloria, in Savannah, GA.

 

Alex, you have a unique situation in that you went to HSP from preschool to high school. Can you tell us about your experience growing up at HSP? Having attended HSP since kindergarten, I was privileged to have been part of a great, tight-knit community centered on Christ and our Catholic faith. From an early age, the traditional grade school curriculum was supplemented with a strong religious education stressing the importance of charity and service to others, echoed by the school's motto ministrare non ministrari.  I hope to carry this motto with me for the rest of my life! 

As far as the social and athletic aspect of my time at HSP, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Holy Spirit Prep being a small school, I was able to play basketball, soccer, football, and track and field. I never had time to really take a break from sports and I loved that. Besides, away games usually meant a few missed classes here and there.... 

Outside of sports, I love the friends I grew up with and take pride in my graduating class. I still hang out with many of them when we're all back in town for Braves games, concerts, "floatin' the Hooch", or some other shenanigans. 

What leadership positions were you involved in while you were at HSP ? How did they prepare you for college and life? I always took sports very seriously in high school. I was the captain of the varsity basketball and soccer teams and one of the four captains for the football team my senior year. I think the discipline and teamwork learned in sports is unparalleled and will prepare you for the rest of your life. In college, I can't really study for a test until I workout or else I go clinically insane. I was also president of the school apostolate Project Bethlehem while at HSP, which furthered my commitment to community service. I urge both students and alumni to stay involved in volunteer programs after graduating from HSP . 

Can you tell me how your experience at Holy Spirit Prep kindled a desire in you to study medicine? I always enjoyed the sciences growing up. Whether it was Biology with Mrs. Lee or Chemistry with Mr. Reger, I found those to be my favorite classes. I took Intro to Organic Chemistry with Mr. Reger, which turned out to be my favorite course in college. I would say those classes and those teachers helped drive my desire to study science. However, my desire to go into medicine and become a physician was due to my parents who are both MDs. Medicine is a life of service and HSP undoubtedly gave me the necessary tools to prepare me for a career in medicine. 

I understand that you will be a senior at Duke University this coming year. Can you tell us about your experience as a student in Duke? My time here at Duke has been incredible. I am a Biology major with a Chemistry and Religion double minor, and so I have had my fair share of science courses, which has made academics very difficult but rewarding.

Outside of school, I hold various leadership positions within my fraternity Sigma Nu, one of which is President of Face Your Challenges, a mental health awareness organization that was founded in response to the suicide of a Sigma Nu brother five years ago. This has probably been my most meaningful experience, as it has led me to work with other students, faculty, and other mental health organizations to put on different events across campus. 

This past year, I have developed an interest in the administrative side of healthcare, which led me to apply for an internship with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina where I worked as Business Analyst. The internship was a great experience because it was completely out of my comfort zone, but I was able to learn about ACA and gain a broader perspective concerning healthcare reform.

What are your plans after Duke? Plans for after Duke.... I can't believe I'm answering this question already, but I have decided I will be taking a gap year before medical school. I am about to begin the job application process, but I will definitely be in healthcare, possibly doing medical research. After my internship with Blue Cross, I am considering pursuing an MD/MBA dual degree. It will definitely be an interesting year, and I wish the best of luck to my class, all on the job hunt, and also to the HSP graduates of 2013.

Erica Leinmiller, Class of '09

Erica in the cockpit of a helicopter.

Erica with her sister, Christina ('11), on graduation day.

Ben Watson ('09) and Erica at the Naval Academy

 

Erica Leinmiller, the Head Girl of the Class of 2009, recently graduated with distinguished honors from the United States Naval Academy. She received the Hefflin Prize for Leadership from the Humanities Department and the Pitt Poetry Prize from the English Department. Although she neither anticipated going to a military college nor joining the military, she claims that her involvement with the Holy Spirit Prep Sea Cadets during her high school years helped prepare her for the military life, “The focus on service, commitment, and discipline prepared me mentally for the military mindset.”

Erica is not what you might expect from a disciplined Naval Officer. She enjoys a repertoire of well-rounded interests, including singing, writing, painting and sailing. While at the Academy she sang Alto for the Women’s Glee Club. She was also the president of the Art Club and editor in chief of the Academy’s literary journal, the Labyrinth. “Holy Spirit Prep prepared me well for the academic rigor of college-level courses, making sure I had proper study skills and discipline. Most importantly, it taught me to create relationships with my professors. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Academy, which was greatly influenced by my close relationships with professors in the English and History departments. Mrs. DeFilippi, Dr. Voss, and Mr. Radosta started my love of English, which came to full fruition at the Academy.” She learned to sail during the Academy’s freshman summer training program, also known as ‘Plebe Summer.’ Soon after, Erica joined the Varsity Intercollegiate Sailing team and was named an Academic All-American for Varsity Intercollegiate Sailing in 2012.

Erica was the Director of Academics for the Foreign Affairs Conference, which drew ambassadors, politicians, journalist and students to the Academy. She writes that "In an effort to continue my education and pursue my interests in foreign affairs, I will begin studying for a Masters in Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. I am very excited about this opportunity to learn and meet other students from across the globe. After my time at Harvard, I will attend Navy Nuclear Power School in Charleston, and will be assigned to a submarine. The first group of women selected submarines in 2010, so I will have a small sisterhood waiting for me. This is a very challenging community, but I am looking forward to contribution in a concrete, meaningful way to our nation's defense. I hope to be assigned to a fast-attack sub, though women are currently only allowed on "boomers" and SSGNs. I was selected for the submarine community because of my leadership ability and academic standing as well as my desire to join."

Erica is looking forward to marrying Ensign Micah Dose in the summer of 2015. Both of them have selected to spend their five years of required service in submarines. Although they will not be in the same ship, they will most likely be on the same base. They plan on serving the Navy beyond the five-year requirement. We wish Erica the best as she begins graduate work in Harvard and congratulate her and Ben Watson, companymate and fellow alumnus of Holy Spirit Prep, on their graduation from the United States Naval Academy. We look forward to seeing great things from her younger sister, Christina Leinmiller, as she continues her studies in psychology at Georgia Southern University.