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2013 2013 Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage

PAID Nashua, NH Permit No. 375


Convent of the Sacred Heart 1 East 91st Street New York, NY 10128-0689

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Address Service Requested


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Board of Trustees 2012–2013 Laurie Lapeyre Chair

Veronica Bennett Vice Chair

Caroleen Mackin, Greenwich ’77 Vice Chair

Michael Esposito Treasurer

Mary Anne Boyd Secretary

Joseph J. Ciancaglini Head of School

Diana Barrett ’62 Eric Bischoff Andrew Conner Margaret Crotty ’90 Catherine Curry ’70 Judith Garson ’53, RSCJ Carlos Guimaraes Rita Hernandez ’74 Philippe Laffont Sacha Lainovic Scott Lindsay Terry Meguid Cecile Meijer, RSCJ Jacqueline Mitchell Maureen O’Leary ’59 Eileen Patrick Jennifer Price Thomas Purcell Brian Riano Bradley Robins Valerie Rodriguez McMurray ’87 Kevin Sheridan, Jr. Paula Toner, RSCJ Richard E. Thornburgh Joseph A. Wilson

Andy Lott President, Parents Association

Lauren Sercander Dukes ’99 President, Alumnae Board

Honorary Trustees Joan C. Kirby, RSCJ Barbaree Meaney Alfred Y. Morgan III Crocker Nevin Mimi O’Hagan, Eden Hall ‘47 Emily K. Rafferty ‘67 Winthrop Rutherfurd Jr. John W. Townsend Richard N. Winfield

Alumnae Board 2012–2013 Lauren Sercander Dukes ’99 President

Melanie McEvoy-Quirke ’82 Vice-President

Conway Walthew Bate ’99 M. Stan Burke, Noroton ’71 Katherine Carrington ’87 Elizabeth Condren ’91 Kate Doherty ’98 Natalie Pica Friend ’02 Tracey Gardner ’92 Janine Jjingo ’98 Catherine Littlefield ’00 Lauren McDermott ’03 Lindsay Mejer ’02 Jean Zielinski Monaco ’79 Kathy Slusser Mullen ’73 Christina Denihan O’Donovan ’99 Karen Roschen Rodgers ’81 Elizabeth Boyd Shipley ’01 Lindsay Tomenson ’92 Deya Murray Warren ’96 Alisa Amarosa Wood ’97

Alumnae Board Emeritus Angela Bayo, RSCJ Greenwich ’44, Manhattanville ’48

Anne Mundell Creed Stone Ridge ’46

AASH Representatives Jane Reynolds Andrews Elmhurst ’62

Michele Rees Finn Eden Hall ’66

Ex Officios Joseph Ciancaglini Head of School

Susan Burke-O’Neal ’87 Director of Alumnae Relations

Alumnae Office Marti Schickel Ibrahim Newton College ’65

Maggie O’Hara ’05

About the Cover This year’s cover was illustrated by Kali Ciesemier to celebrate the completion of the rooftop renovation. There were variations of the cover printed representing each division. All three are shown here.

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Susan Burke-O’Neal ’87, Director of Alumnae Relations

Ruth Petzold, Noroton ’60

Lauren Sercander Dukes ’99, Alumnae Association President



Finding Focus

Joseph J. Ciancaglini, Head of School



Finding a Home in Rockaway Molly Twohig ’97


Living Lessons Aimee de la Houssaye ’02


Alumnae Events




Nancy Maginnis Davies,

Emily Rafferty ’67 Carolyn Coffey ’90


Manhattanville Colege ’55 ALUMNA DISPATCH

Graduation 2012 Valedictorian Speech:




91st Street Reunion 2012 Honoring: Betty Hewlett ’72






91st Street Noroton



A Celebration of Sister Bayo Joseph Ciancaglini, Lovella Beres and Pat Hult share their memories

Mater on the Map


Lifelong Connection Christina Traugott ’00


Shannon Bader ’12


Peace Quilts for Nicaragua

Entrepreneurial Spirit Conversations with Molly Krause Fienning ’98 Valerie Rodriquez McMurray ’87 Deya Murray Warren ’96 Jane Fensterstock ’10

Births, Marriages, Deaths



Present in Uganda Tammi Abad


The World Turned Upside Down Katie Daley, Greenwich ’02 VIEWS FROM 91st STREET


A Summer to Remember Hanna Ramsden ’13

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Editors Alicia Farrell Susan Burke-O’Neal Maggie O’Hara Director of Advancement Craig MacPherson

Alumnae Relations Susan Burke-O’Neal Maggie O’Hara

Design The Blank Page

Cover Illustration Kali Ciesemier

Printing Puritan Capital

Photography Jamie Cohen Alicia Farrell Juliana Thomas

Convent of the Sacred Heart Alumnae Magazine Les Amies 2013 Produced by the Advancement Office of Convent of the Sacred Heart, 1 East 91st Street, New York, NY 10128 212.722.4745 ©2013 Convent of the Sacred Heart, all rights reserved. Les Amies is published annually for students, parents, alumnae and friends of Convent of the Sacred Heart.

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Susan Burke-O’Neal ’87

The 2012-2013 school year has been one of great celebration at Sacred Heart. Whether commemorating the 46 years of devotion of a beloved RSCJ, the medal-winning discipline of an Olympic athlete, the humbling progress of our Capital Campaign, the awe-inspiring college acceptances of our Seniors or the Intellectual Values of students, alumnae, faculty, staff and parents, we continually rejoice in the love, commitment and achievements of our 91st Street community members. At the beginning of the school year, our beloved Angie Bayo announced her retirement from 91st Street and her relocation to Abba House, an RSCJ retirement community in Albany. After every phone call, letter and even personal visit, it becomes clearer to me that Sr. Bayo will never be far away. Everything she taught me as a child (and continues to teach me as an adult), I hold in my heart. The love she has for all of us, her family at 91st Street, radiates from 150 miles away. Through Sr. Bayo's love and the support of the 91st Street community overall, I am continually reminded how blessed we are to have a Sacred Heart education and rest firmly in the notion that we are loved. Loved by our families, fellow alumnae, our teachers, the RSCJ and by God. That sentiment was echoed by Cokie Roberts when she visited 91st Street in December. As a part of our year-long celebration of Goal II (“schools of the Sacred Heart commit themselves to educate to a deep respect for intellectual values”), we welcomed a number of guest speakers, including Joseph Stiglitz, Cokie Roberts and Peggy Noonan. Cokie, the only alumna among them, applauded how her Sacred Heart education gave her not only the mental wherewithal, but the self-assurance to excel in the competitive world of political journalism and personally thanked her RSCJ educators for their unwavering commitment to their students and to their faith. In the ensuing pages, we will read about 91st Street alumnae who are putting their education to work and pairing it with passion and self-assurance to build businesses of their own. We'll also learn how many of our alumnae are sharing their skills and resources with the less fortunate. In all of our articles, you will see how Sacred Heart alumnae celebrate making a difference by combining their education with their passion and faith. Sacred Heart has always focused on educating the heart, mind and body of its students. Our transformed facilities, paired with an improved endowment, will enable the school to continue fulfilling the mission of a Sacred Heart education. Thanks to the generosity of our community members and the continued success of the Capital Campaign, we were also able to celebrate the ground-breaking of our athletic and wellness center just a few blocks east at 406 East 91 Street. Knowing a regulation size pool will soon be a part of our campus, it was even more spectacular to celebrate the Olympic medal win of Lia Neal, member of the Class of 2013, who won the Bronze in the Women's 4x100 Meter Freestyle at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Please join me in continuing the celebration by applauding and supporting the efforts and achievements of the students, alumnae, parents, faculty and staff of the 91st Street community.

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Lauren Sercander Dukes ‘99

It is such an honor to serve as the new President of the 91st Street Alumnae Association. I am excited to invite everyone to join me in participating in our upcoming alumnae initiatives—be it Authors’ Night, Family Mass, one of our many other annual events or our Alumnae Annual Fund and Capital Campaign. It is fitting that our 2013 issue of Les Amies celebrates examples of leadership among our alumnae, including our entrepreneurs. These women exemplify the characteristics inherent in a Sacred Heart education: strength, courage and the intelligence to turn their dreams into reality. I am thrilled and eager to learn from them. And as we read their stories, let us reflect on our own lives. How can we make a difference this year? How can we be leaders in our communities, in our homes, at work, at 91st Street or just in our day-to-day lives? We witnessed leadership firsthand at our recent event celebrating Goal II, when Cokie Roberts (affiliate Sacred Heart alumna of The Academy of the Sacred Heart and Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart ‘60) appeared as our esteemed guest speaker. The event was a huge success not because of the 200+ attendees, including parents, faculty, RSCJ and alumnae, nor because of the fabulous cocktail party that followed (we are good at those!), but because we learned about the profound impact that a Sacred Heart education had on Cokie’s life. Cokie couldn’t underscore enough how significantly her Sacred Heart experiences had influenced her. She emphasized that she would not be where she is today without the heart and leadership she gained through her Sacred Heart education and the religious who helped guide her. It was a poignant moment for us all as Cokie spoke of the rigorous education, confidence and love the RSCJ embedded in her daily life. She attributed her ability to tackle the predominantly male world of political journalism in the 1960s to the strength and character with which the RSCJ, along with her family, empowered her. While she was a student before the Goals & Criteria were formalized as they are today, it was clear their principles helped shape her. Cokie Roberts is unabashedly a child of the Sacred Heart. And so are we! With that said, I wonder how can we actualize the goals of Sacred Heart in our lives? One way is to participate. Get involved. The 91st Street Alumnae Association is only as strong as our members. We encourage everyone to come back to school, attend alumnae events, volunteer at phonathons, help drive class participation and reconnect with our community. As anthropologist Margaret Mead famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Whether it is your time, your professional skills, your financial support and/or your enthusiastic cheering at an athletic event, let’s make a promise as women of the Sacred Heart that we will participate, we will act, we will lead. Have a wonderful 2013! I look forward to seeing everyone at the upcoming alumnae events this year.






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Letter from the


Dear Alumnae, As I write this, students, faculty and staff have just returned from Christmas vacation. The beautiful wreaths, garlands

dive into the depths of the ocean before the sun is up. What is it that drives these members of our community

and pine trees that decorate our halls in December have

to persevere when the going gets tough and attain their

been taken down; the wondrous sense of anticipation we feel

goals? Determination? Grit? Or something else?

before Christmas has been replaced with the renewed vigor that accompanies a new semester and a new year. That doesn’t mean that 91st Street feels any less magical

St. Madeleine Sophie Barat would say it is love: God’s love for us, our love for God, and our love for those around us. She believed in reason and in sound judgment, in educating

—or exciting. In fact, the school has been particularly

young women at a time that most educators focused their

exciting this year as we celebrate Goal II: a deep respect for

efforts on young men. But she believed that nurturing a

intellectual values. Many of you returned to hear Nobel Prize

student’s intellect was not enough. “What is the good of

winner Joseph Stiglitz and noted news analyst and Stone

teaching various subjects,” she asked, “if at the same time

Ridge alumna Cokie Roberts share their insights with our

we cannot teach children the words of life and touch their

community as part of this celebration.

hearts and their consciences?” She urged us to value our

Sacred Heart interprets respect for intellectual values as a commitment to critical thinking, aesthetic values,

feelings and our hearts, as well as our minds. I am certain that each featured alumna would agree

imagination and a life-long love of learning. And this edition

that some manifestation of love played a part in her success.

of Les Amies is filled with stories and notes of alumnae

Whether it was passion for what she does, empathy for the

who live out these precepts every day. Consider our featured

weak or the sick, the loving encouragement of a friend or

entrepreneurs; all of them needed not only imagination

family member, or the Sacred Heart education she received,

but the desire to learn how to run a business to launch

love helped her to realize her dreams.

their independent ventures. Our teachers, too, decided to

As we celebrate our commitment to Goal II, then, I hope

seek further knowledge when they embarked on their

that our alumnae as well as our school community continue

international service experiences. And our featured alumnae

to develop not only our intellectual gifts, but our capacity

artist, a nature photographer, has followed her love of

for love. If we are all able to approach our challenges with

learning about wildlife all over the globe.

our minds as well as our hearts, we will truly be living out

We are proud of these women’s accomplishments. It is

St. Madeline Sophie’s vision of a Sacred Heart education.

important to note, however, that their intelligence and intellect alone would not have been enough for them to


succeed. Intellect is certainly not enough to motivate artists and entrepreneurs to work through the challenges inherent in their fields. Intellectual values alone can’t help a teacher sincerely connect with a student from a foreign culture, or a sleep-deprived volunteer care for the sick, or a photographer

Joseph J. Ciancaglini Head of School

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•A • • • • • • • • •


LUMNAE EVENTS• Mid-Winter Alumnae Party

• • • • • • • • •

The “Night in Havana” themed event on January 20, 2012 attracted over 150 guests. For the second year in a row, Sacred Heart and St. David’s teamed up to co-host the midwinter alumnae party targeted at our youngest alumnae, recent college graduates. Flowers, faux mustaches, mojitos and Caribbean tunes added Cuban flair to the lively event.

• • • • • • •

Alumnae Family Mass and Brunch

• • • • • • • •

On February 26, 2012, the 91st Street Alumnae Association hosted a Lenten Family Mass for alumnae and their families. Following the Liturgy, we hosted a “goûter” and the children enjoyed a craft hour while alumnae parents and grandparents had a chance to connect with old friends and new ones, too.


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• • • • • • • • • • • • •

Alumnae Induction

• • • • • • • • • • • • •

At Alumnae Induction on May 24th, members of the Class of 2012 were given both a Sacred Heart Alumnae Passport and an Alumnae Pin. The passports distributed serve as an entrée to Sacred Heart schools and friendships around the world. The alumnae pins are another identifying symbol that reminds seniors and others that we all belong to a large Sacred Heart community. At induction, we assured our newest alumnae that they are always welcome at 91st Street and we encouraged them to stay in touch!

• • • • • • • • •

Breakfast and Photos with Santa

• • • • • • • •

Photos and Breakfast with Santa during the first weekend of December continues to be hugely popular among alumnae and members of the 91st Street community. With approximately 1,000 guests—roughly 400 children and two parents accompanying most children— our visitors enjoyed breakfast treats, candy canes, crafts, hot cocoa and the prized opportunity to take a photo with Santa Claus.

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• • • • • • • • • • • •

Authors’ Night 2012

• • • • • • • • • • • •

Best-selling Irish authors Colum McCann and Frank Delaney delighted a packed audience of over 100 alumnae and friends at the Fourteenth Annual Authors’ Night on February 15, 2012. The literary heavyweights showcased the very best of the Irish “gift of the gab” and were moderated by alumna Magee Hickey, an Emmy-Award winning reporter and member of the PIX 11 News team.

• • • • • • • •

College-Age Reunion Luncheon

• • • • • • • •

The day before Thanksgiving, members of the class of 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 and their parents were invited to return to 91st Street for a college-age reunion luncheon in the Ballroom. The annual gathering allows our youngest alumnae to connect with their former teachers and classmates while their parents also have a chance to catch up with friends at school. Pictured above are some of the alumnae and parents who attended.


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• • • • • • • • • • • • •

Alumnae Angels

• • • • • • • • • • • • •

On Tuesday, October 23, the 91st Street Alumnae Association and Parents’ EJM committees together hosted a lively discussion about how to thrive in any workplace with guest speaker Carla Harris. Ms. Harris provided practical, specific tools to recognize and harness one’s individual strengths and maximize one’s potential in a professional environment from her book “Expect to Win” with 85 alumnae, parents and friends of 91st Street. After the engaging discussion, audience members attended a reception where Ms. Harris signed copies of her book.

• • • • • • • • • • • • •

Mater’s Feast

• • • • • • • • • • • • •

On October 18, in celebration of the Feast of Mater Admirabilis, alumnae of all ages enjoyed a Liturgy in the Chapel. This year’s homily was delivered by Secondina Baitwababo, RSCJ. “Sr. Seco” is from the Kenya Province of Uganda and she shared powerful personal anecdotes about the sacrifices her family made to allow her to be educated as well as the influence Mater has had on her life. After the short Mass, alumnae gathered in the foyer to catch up over cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and the traditional pink “Mater” cookies. Several RSCJ, pictured above left, attended the celebration.

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Emily Rafferty ’67 named Chair of Federal Reserve Bank • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Les Amies is proud to report that in December 2012, the Federal Reserve appointed Emily Rafferty ’67 as chair of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for 2013. Ms. Rafferty, who was already on the board, will replace Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, who served two terms as the board’s chair. Emily is the president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the first woman to hold that position. In that role, she has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the museum, and has increased membership by the thousands. An alumna and former Sacred Heart parent (Sara Rafferty ’01), Ms. Rafferty is well known at 91st Street. A tireless supporter of the school and its mission, she served on the school’s board of trustees for 15 years, four of them as board chair. She remains a lifetime honorary trustee. Emily’s extended family also has a strong affiliation with 91st Street. Emily’s sisters, Mary Kernan Rutherford ’64, Anita Kernan Halton ’61, and Dr. Nancy Kernan Chamberlain ’70, all attended school here. All three sent their daughters here as well: Leslie Rutherford Coleman ’88, Lily Rutherford Kinlin ’89, and Emily Rutherford Gallagher ’93 (Mary’s daughters), Allie Halton ’97 (Anita’s daughter), and Kate Chamberlain ’16 (Nancy’s daughter). Mary’s granddaughter (Lily’s daughter), Charlotte Kinlin ’22, is also currently at 91st Street. We are delighted to congratulate Emily on her new role!

Carolyn Coffey ’90 awarded for her public service • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Carolyn Coffey ‘90 received a 2012 Public Service Award from the New York County Lawyers' Association (NYCLA). This award honors lawyers in the public sector who have distinguished themselves as role models, innovators, and problem solvers of complex legal issues. Carolyn is Supervising Attorney of MFY’s Consumer Rights Project, which provides advice, counsel, and representation to low-income New Yorkers on a range of consumer problems. In addition to supervising the project, Ms. Coffey represents clients in state and federal courts, conducts trainings on consumer law, engages in legislative advocacy to help pass pro-consumer laws in New York City and New York State, and has co-authored several reports concerning the debt collection industry.


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les amies 2013

Ruth Petzold, Noroton ’60

Finding Focus

Alicia Farrell ’89


hen Ruth Petzold, Noroton ’60, received a prosthetic

Michigan, and the Vero Beach Museum of Art. Her photographs

lower leg in 2001, she was determined to use it.

have appeared in several scientific articles and in publications

And not just to walk. To dance, nine days later,

by National Geographic, which some photographers see as

at her mother’s 90th birthday celebration. She did. But then Ruthie, as she is known to her friends, has

the ultimate success. Not bad for someone who never took a single photography class or considered photography as a potential occupation.

always loved a good challenge. After all, she learned how to

“It was too much fun for me,” she said in a recent phone

swim at age two, began to snorkel at age four, and taught

interview. “I never thought of it as a profession.”

herself how to take photos with the Brownie Hawkeye she got for her birthday at age seven. And then there’s her career. An award-winning wildlife

For Ruthie, photography was about capturing moments in the natural world; she was captivated by nature from a young age. “I was always out investigating bugs with my

photographer, Ruth has captured an abundance of stunning

magnifying glass,” she remembered. The Petzhold family

images that reveal both her drive and her passion for the

lived near the water in Michigan but spent the summers

natural world. Her work has been exhibited in the Cleveland

near the ocean in New Hampshire. “I was always investigating

Museum of Natural History, the Crooked Tree Art Center in

tidal pools. I was fascinated by the sea.”

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At age seven she discovered her passion for photography

Her Sacred Heart experience didn’t just give her academic

when she got her first camera, the Brownie Hawkeye that

knowledge; it shaped her character. “Sacred Heart instilled

was ubiquitous at the time. “I loved it—I spent all my

the motto of noblesse oblige,” she said. “I like to give back

allowance on film,” she recalled.

whenever I can.” She also credits her Sacred Heart education

In addition exploring nature’s classrooms, Ruth attended

for her fortitude. While it was very strict, she said, “it did

school in the traditional sense as well. Like her mother and

instill in you that you can do whatever you set your mind to.”

sisters, Ruth received a Sacred Heart education. She attended

For Ruth, that has meant trekking through third-world

Grosse Point, the Sacred Heart school in Michigan, for

countries, cross-country skiing, and deep-sea diving with a

eight years. She then studied at Noroton, the Sacred Heart

special “dive” prosthetic leg, all in the pursuit of her two

boarding school in Connecticut that closed in 1974. Finally


she spent two years at Duchesne, the Sacred Heart school

Ruth’s career in wildlife photography didn’t develop

for high-school graduates in New York that was housed

overnight. After Duchesne, she worked in medical labs

in the Burden Mansion at 7 East 91st Street. (Duchesne

and hospitals for seven years, assisting with research and

closed in 1966 and the mansion now houses 91st Street’s

photomicrography, taking magnified pictures of samples

Lower School.)

with the aid of a microscope.

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She pursued photography outside of work as well. By

Still, she has not allowed it to hold her back. In fact,

her early 20s, she had taken up diving and bought her first

she has discovered that her prosthetic leg is what she dryly

underwater camera to capture the fascinating world she

calls “multi-functional.” She recalls one incident when she

discovered beneath the sea. Ruth also started to take

was on a boat taking photos of hippos in Botswana. Her

pictures of families and events. Although she had been

hand started to get tired from holding the long lens. When

taking the pictures for free, it was at a great cost to her

she realized she had left her monopod at the camp, she

due to film and processing costs. Finally, in 1972, a friend

took off her prosthetic leg, propped it up, and used it as a

said she might as well print up a card and start charging.

make-shift camera stand.

At first her work comprised whatever assignments she

“Ruthie has an uncanny ability to rise above her obstacles

could get. “I used to say that I photographed all forms of

and make everyone laugh,” said Tanya Burnett, a close

wildlife,” she quipped, “including children and weddings.”

friend and fellow underwater photographer. The two met

But in 1985, her passion for the natural world and her love of photography converged. She began working with Dr. Eugenie Clark, an ichthyologist and shark expert,

in 2009 on a photo expedition. “She is one of the most dynamic people I've ever known; she’s unstoppable.” Ruth’s passion for photographing the natural world has

accompanying her on her research trips to the sea to take

led her to all points of the compass. She has traveled 11

underwater photos. “She has more patience and focus than

times to the African continent, 10 times to New Guinea and

any other photographer with whom I’ve ever worked,”

the Solomon Islands, and six times to Indonesia. She has

said Dr. Clark in an email. “Her wonderful photographs

trekked through jungles so remote that the indigenous

of the behavior of fishes [were] the main basis for the

tribes ran and hid when they saw her because they thought

conclusion of some of our studies.”

she was a ghost. She has photographed penguins and polar

Ruth learned a tremendous amount. “Diving with

bears, rare leafy sea dragons and humpback whales.

Dr. Eugenie Clark was like being in a constant classroom,”

When she is not on a photo expedition, Ruth divides her

she said. “I’d dive and see something and then come back

time between her homes in North Palm Beach and Michigan,

up and ask [Dr. Clark] about it...sometimes I think I could

where she has had a gallery for one year. A wildlife conser-

have a degree in marine biology.”

vationist, Ruth enjoys giving slide shows to students to

Ruth’s 60 trips with Dr. Clark also resulted in professional

motivate them to embrace nature conservation while they

recognition. Thanks to her work with Dr. Clark, Ruth had

are young. Given her all-encompassing passion for nature,

her photos published in Research and Exploration, the now

especially the sea, it is difficult to imagine that the children

defunct scientific journal published by National Geographic.

are anything but supremely inspired.

“I just thought, wow! This is the best,” Ruth recalled. In 2001, Ruth suffered a brief setback when she lost her

“Dealing with nature on such a personal level is truly spiritual,” Ruth writes in her artist’s statement from the

lower leg to a staph infection after total ankle replacement

Lighthouse Art Center in Michigan. “To look in the eye of

surgery. Despite finally being free of the pain that had

a humpback whale touches one’s soul. To stare into the jaw

dogged her since age 16, when she had broken the same leg,

of a great white shark fills one with awe. To be hugged by

Ruth did feel less able to do some of the more physically

manatees and sea lions is heart-warming. To witness the

difficult tasks necessary in her work. She remembers one

cycles of life from beginning to end portrays life’s fragility.”

incident in the Falkland Islands when she wanted to climb

“When I dive, I see God’s majesty in everything he has

down to get a closer shot of an albatross nesting, but

made.” she said later. “The life on a reef is just astounding.

couldn’t make it.

And in nature, everything has its own place.”

Finding a Home in Rockaway

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Mollie Twohig ’97

Here is a story of Hurricane Sandy. It is not my story alone. And more than a story of disaster, it is a story about a home and a community that stays with me, despite the passage of time and despite the distance in between.

his November marks the 26th anniversary of my


family’s immigration to the United States from Ireland, where we left behind our small cozy village

called Knockraha for a little beach town in New York City called Rockaway. If you search for Knockraha online, only a handful of results will be returned, one of which is a

The following piece first appeared in November on

Wikipedia entry which simply reads: “In the village there is a pub, church, primary school and community hall.” And that’s pretty much the truth. It’s all I knew, it’s what I loved, and it was my Home. We packed only a suitcase each, my brothers and I painstakingly made the decisions between what toys to take or leave, and we said goodbye to our family, friends, and classmates. I was in the middle of second grade at the time, and my teacher had to explain to my seven-year-old counterparts that I was going on a plane to America. As a parting gift, they bestowed on me a copy of “The Wind in the Willows” and I gladly accepted, still not understanding all the special attention or the permanency of what was happening. Looking back, I’m convinced that my teacher thoughtfully gave me that book because of the themes of adventure and camaraderie that are woven into the pages. I was leaving my home and community forever but didn’t really know it. It would take some time and of course the immediate submersion at my new school—St. Francis de Sales—to realize that my family and I were in Rockaway to stay. I found out

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from my parents that we lived on a thin peninsula, with the

what it is like to stand at the edge of the Broad Channel

Atlantic Ocean on one side and the bay on the other. We were

train platform to see signs of life from the shuttle. How

close to a place called Brooklyn and actually part of a place

isolating it felt to live so far away, yet even so, many of us

called Queens, but still we were quite “off the map.” We

who have commuted that rough ride to Manhattan over the

were, in effect, our own little town. Early on, I still couldn’t

years knew each other, each other’s families, our histories…

forget my own little home back in Ireland, and when I used

and the commute was just one more part of the life we all

to see Air Lingus planes flying out East over the ocean, I

shared. And that’s just it, we shared similar experiences, a

used to well up inside with pangs of homesickness for my

culture that was unlike any other towns around us, we

friends (and selfishly, my boxed away Barbies). Could this

shared memories, and in the last 11 years, the unity and

new town, this foreign peninsula, ever replace my own home?

resilience of our community would be tested, not only once

In the twenty years that followed our big move, that question was answered over and over again for me in more

but again and again and again… On 9/11, we suffered one of the nation’s most concen-

ways than one. Like all residents in Rockaway, I came to

trated losses, with 59 people from Rockaway and 32 people

know and love the beach, which was only a few steps away

from Breezy Point’s even smaller population perishing when

from our houses. Friends from other parts of the five boroughs

the towers fell. I remember reading the newspapers front to

were undoubtedly jealous of how accessible the beach was

back every day searching for, but hoping not to recognize, a

for us, how inviting the ocean was on those hot, humid,

familiar face or name among the lists of the missing and the

miserable days in July and August, and how peaceful a nice

dead. One day, I found that headline I didn’t want to find:

stroll or run was on the boardwalk. Of course, many came

Xavier Boys Victims of 9/11 and below the handsome and

and still come by bus and train to partake in the beach life

grinning face of Charlie Heeran, who had gone to St. Francis

at Rockaway. In recent years, even trendy hipsters have

with all of us, who had grown up happily in Rockaway with

taken our little town by storm. People from Rockaway would

his close-knit family, and had so sadly died far too young.

often refer to the influx of daily beach-goers as “DFD’s,” the

Inspired and impacted so much by Charlie’s death, another

acronym for “Down-for-the-Day’ers.” Little did we know that

resident, Michael Glover, joined the Marines. In 2006, Lance

at the same time, the natives could easily be ID’d themselves

Corporal Glover was killed in the line of duty in Iraq.

by any or all of the following signs: Reef sandals, a beach

The tragedies for our small town did not stop there.

cruiser bike, a poncho from the Surf Shop, board shorts, a

Literally two months and a day after the Twin Tower attack,

boogie or surf board, local food in hand (pizza from Ciros

on November 12, 2001, American Airline Flight 587 en route

or Plum Tomatoes, a bagel from Hot Bagels, or a sub from

to the Dominican Republic plummeted into Rockaway, killing

the 101 Deli), and last but certainly not least, the unique

all 260 aboard and five people on the ground. Kathleen Lawler

Rockaway drawl that is comparable to and as identifiable

and her son Christopher, a close friend of Charlie Heeran’s,

as the Jersey Shore or Staten Island accents.

were two of those five who lost their lives in the crash.

The funny thing is, those visitors that came to Rockaway

Now, 11 years later, Hurricane Sandy is challenging the

in the summer got out as quickly as possible in the winter

faith and spirit of community in the Rockaways one more

months. The breeze that swept over the small peninsula,

time. In Breezy Point alone, over 111 homes were ravished

a friend in the heat of summer, became a bitter enemy.

by fires and floods. Sandy carved out a path of disaster in

Most residents in Rockaway and Breezy Point (the tip of

Rockaway as well, where fires destroyed homes and businesses

the peninsula) who work or have gone to school in the City

in several sections, one of which was the very same area

know too well what it was like to wait in the chilling dark

where the American Airline plane went down years before.

mornings for the rickety Green Lines Bus to show up, or

Even more horrific and coincidental was the tragic loss of

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the Harbor Light Pub, which was owned and established

What’s fascinating is that even the definition of home

by Barbara and Bearnie Heeran, the parents of Charlie,

itself, with the artificial borders that are oftentimes created

mentioned above.

between insular communities (in our case Breezy, Rockaway

How does one family, one community pull together and

Beach, Far Rockaway, Broad Channel, and the outside world)

begin to fathom overcoming such loss? Is it even possible?

is redefined. In this instance, the physical breaking down

The thing that I have learned in my 20 years of living in

of boundaries helped people see the common ground,

Rockaway is that it is possible. But the only way we are able

the common need. Just as the victims’ families from the

to do it is because everyone who lives in our small community

Dominican Republic came to Rockaway after the tragedy in

regards Rockaway as their “Home.” And when something

2001, now people from other towns including those so-called

happens to your Home and your Family, you get up and do

DFDs and hipsters are here volunteering in Rockaway and

something about it. You act. Within hours of this natural

staying for more than just a day! People are walking the

disaster happening, my Facebook was flooded with posts

length of the Rockaways, crossing “turf-lines.” People are

and groups from Rockaway who began to mobilize:

graciously inviting honest clean up crews into their houses.

Shane Brennan, another St. Francis de Sales (SFDS)

In the years that I have lived in Rockaway, I have seen

alumnus, traveled from San Diego to provide immediate aid

the sun, I’ve enjoyed the peaceful breeze of the ocean, and

to the community by bringing in water pumps and generators,

I’ve basked on its warm sandy shores. But I, like all the

even hand delivering one to my own mother’s house. He and

other residents of this tiny community, have seen the dark

his brother, Eugene, started a charity within hours of the

days as well. As difficult as it is to see the surreal images of

disaster happening. Jamie Jordan, another SFDS alumna,

familiar streets in ruins, perhaps it is there that we find the

established the “Rockaway Emergency Plan”

truest meaning of Home: a community that lifts us up when

Facebook page where she has been coordinating

times are the hardest, a family who offers their helping

volunteer and donation efforts. Catherine Maloney

hands when our physical homes are no longer on the map.

Larson, also a native of Rockaway, has been

My sister-in-law, Melanie Twohig, who also died too

spearheading networking and live updates on

young, used to tell her son: “Home is in the heart.” Some

Facebook despite living in Tampa. The “Rockaway

may dismiss this as a cliché, but immigrants, wanderers, and

Relief Effort” and “Rockaway Wish” pages are

those afflicted by disasters know the weight of these words.

hubs on Facebook where residents have been able

I, for one, have found home and heart in Rockaway. As have

to get information and guidance on how to get

so many others.

aid. I myself have started a West Coast drive

I dedicate this post to all of my Family in Rockaway. I

through my company, AOL, with a colleague to get donations

dedicate it, especially, to all those who have spent countless

and supplies over to our ravished hometowns early this

hours outside on the streets helping their neighbors and

week. A few others in Long Island and San Diego are

helping strangers. Their unseen labors go mostly unrecog-

organizing a “re-baby shower registry” for their friend, who

nized on Facebook and the news. Yet those acts remind us

gave birth only a week ago and lost practically everything.

that Home is much more than a physical house and family

These are only a few small examples of the countless ways

is much more than blood relatives. Through their acts,

we have pulled together to help each other during this

they remind us that Home is a community of friends and

extremely difficult and trying time. We have camaraderie,

strangers, whose fate is woven together. They remind us,

unity, determination, and the will to make it through this

too, that Family is a group who knows they're all in it

because we have to. This is Rockaway, this is our Home.

together, even when disaster strikes.

Mollie Twohig ’97 graduated as co-valedictorian of her class. She went on to study at Cornell University and graduated in 2001, Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. in Communication. She currently works for AOL Advertising. Although she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three dogs, she considers herself a New Yorker at heart.

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The Spirit of 91st Street During Hurricane Sandy When the editor at the Huffington Post asked me for a short bio to accompany the preceding article on Hurricane Sandy, one question came to my mind: Where was I from? A seemingly simple question, yet one that I could not answer by naming a single geographical point on the map. So, I wrote that I “grew up in Rockaway Park, NY and attended St. Francis de Sales and the Convent of the Sacred Heart.” I’m glad the little blurb mentioned those two schools. After all, what is a “biography” other than a testament to the communities that helped us become who we are? Those two schools fostered my growth by providing me with a moral and spiritual compass. Last week, that compass led me back to the two families I found on 129th street and East 91st street. Unbeknownst to me at the time, these two communities were already coming together immediately after Hurricane Sandy. Shortly after the article was published, I wrote a quick note on Sacred Heart’s Facebook wall because I wanted to share my story, and more importantly, connect again with the place that had helped me discover the spirit of community. The response that I got back was truly inspiring and heartwarming. Not only did I get emails from the faculty including Mr. Chung, Sr. Keleher, and Susan Burke-O’Neal expressing their concerns for me and my family, but I also quickly learned of the generous contributions that the entire Sacred Heart community was making towards the relief effort. Tears welled up in my eyes when I found out that my Sacred Heart family had already been delivering much needed supplies to my parish in Rockaway, as well as to the lower Eastside of Manhattan. I remember standing in my room reading about their efforts to help my ravished hometown, and I cried and said to myself, “Oh, thank God.” Tears streamed down my face again when I read of the prayer banners that the students sent to my community to offer words of hope and faith during such a tragic time. It’s ironic now that I think about it. When Catherine Hannan and I addressed our Sacred Heart family 15 years ago at graduation, we began by recounting how many hours, seconds, and minutes it took us to travel from Rockaway to 91st Street. Needless to say, it was one very long and worthwhile commute. Now, in the response to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, the Sacred Heart community made the same commute, just in the opposite direction. In their reverse commute to my home, the most important lesson I learned at Sacred Heart came full circle. At 91st street, I learned to have faith in community. I learned that although borders, boundaries, and boroughs often separate us, we are all brothers and sisters in this world. We are a community. What affects one affects us all.


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les amies 2013


Aimee de la Houssaye ’02

n 2007, Togo had one of the highest rates of HIV in

I had learned about in school and the news were not

West Africa—62% of its population lived in poverty,

abstract problems—of numbers and statistics—but of real

and there were only five physicians and 19 nurses per

people, of friends.


100,000 people. Those were the numbers, and they were

One such friend was Fati. She was a tour guide of sorts.

the reason I joined the Peace Corps. But once I arrived at

She introduced me to Regina, Idrissou, Sebastian, and at

my village, my reality centered on individuals.

least 20 other people living with HIV/AIDS. Most had no

Take Solim, for example. When I met her, she was

access to medical treatment—the closest clinic was miles

already infected with the HIV virus. In Togo, there is often

away. I was eager to help fight this cycle of poverty and

no safety net. An HIV infected mother who has no access

suffering, and building an HIV/AIDS clinic became my

to medical treatment is unable to work the fields to help

primary project. I was acutely aware of the challenge

provide food for her family. Solim could no longer afford

ahead of me: bringing services into a community without

school fees for her children, and her youngest daughter

resources, overcoming the stigma and superstitions ingrained

had to leave school, simultaneously losing her childhood

in the culture, and fighting the fear and discrimination

and becoming the head of the household.

associated with the disease.

During my first few weeks in Togo, I witnessed the

Fati and I spent the next three months gathering

inequities of the developing world through personal interac-

support for a treatment center in my village. We recruited a

tions with people like Solim. I had conversations, shared

local doctor to provide medical consultations, and we trained

meals with and worked alongside these men and women

members of the association to act as psychosocial counselors,

while they struggled to meet basic needs. Through these

pharmacists, peer educators and home visitors. We received

relationships, I began to see more clearly that the problems

funding from a small NGO called Hope through Health. On

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World AIDS Day 2007, over 500 people gathered to celebrate

school when I felt the power and strength of being part

the opening of the community’s first HIV/AIDS treatment

of a community, and when I was encouraged to take action.

center. It was a small victory in a world of many injustices

Sacred Heart was a place where my eyes were opened,

and much suffering, but it was one of the most gratifying

where independence and individualism were encouraged, and

days of my life. As Mother Teresa famously said, “the fruit

common good was stressed. These were living lessons, and

of service is peace.” On that day, her words rang true.

they became important tools I carried with me to Togo.

We’re formed by our experiences, but core values and

What I’ve known growing up in NY—raised by two won-

philosophes guide us to them and through them. On 9/11,

derful parents and fostered by my teachers at Sacred Heart—

I was a senior at Sacred Heart. It was a tragic day, but

was important. I was well served by the affection and

what I felt that day on 91st Street was a powerful sense

guidance of those around me. I absorbed a lot of wisdom.

of community. Dr. Mary Blake, the head of the school at

But what I experienced in Togo was different. It was a time

the time, called us to the chapel to tell us about the events

for me to reach out, for me to serve, for me to give. It was

that had taken place that morning. Every person in the

a time for me to live my values. And today, I continue to

room was worried about someone else’s father, mother,

try to live by these principles—both through volunteer

aunt or uncle. And we knew that no matter what happened,

work with Hope through Health, the same organization

Sacred Heart would be there to support us. In the days

that funded our HIV/AIDS clinic in Togo, and through my

following 9/11, the school convened an all-day teach-in

current job in global health.

to provide some context to the events, to open our minds

Our experiences change the way we see the world, and

to new cultures and geographies, and to teach us about

they help us to evolve. But it’s our core foundation that

what this meant for the global community. I didn't know

urges us to make meaningful decisions and to act upon

it yet, but that day and that experience informed my work

these lessons. I will forever be grateful to Sacred Heart—

in Africa.

an institution that taught me about the world, and gave

I can remember a number of times throughout high

me the tools to change it.

Aimee de la Houssaye ’02 earned a B.A. in International Studies and African Studies from Emory University and an M.A. in International Relations from the University of Chicago. After serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Togo, West Africa, she worked at a variety of organizations that support international development and education initiatives. Currently, Aimee is a Senior Associate at Global Health Strategies and serves on the board of directors of Hope through Health.

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les amies


PeaceQuilts for Nicaragua Nancy Maginnis Davies Manhattanville College ’55

his February was the first official


classes within a large area which also

opportunity to learn the art of quilting

meeting of PeaceQuilts for

included six elementary grades. Aracely

so they can earn much-needed money.

Nicaragua. My daughter-in-law

was familiar with the center in her role

The road to that first meeting was a

Aracely Juarez, our master quilter Jo

as a social worker and had assembled

long and rocky one. Aracely and my son,

Van Loo and I met with an eager group

the group after visiting each of the

Patric, had married in 2006 and settled

of eleven women in a community center

women in their homes. Nicaragua is the

in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua.

in one of Managua's poorest barrios. The

second poorest country in the Western

Patric fell in love with Aracely and with

center, surrounded by a high wall topped

Hemisphere, with a 60% unemployment

her country—a wonderful place, in spite

with barbed wire, contained several

rate. Many of these women lack the basic

of its poverty, with people of great

rooms used for cooking and computer

necessities of life, and welcome the

strength and capacity for happiness.

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Aracley had to leave her job in 2009

utilizing the organizational template

when Patric was diagnosed with an

used in Haiti as a basis for forming the

incurable brain tumor. She devoted

cooperative in Nicaragua. She enthusias-

herself to his care with the utmost love

tically embraced the challenge and the

and tenderness until his death in June

women responded accordingly. During

2010. For many months after, she was

our first visit the women gave their

unable to even look for a job, but when

group a name—Bendición de Dios

she finally regained some strength and

(Blessing of God)—and they committed

began her search, she found that many

themselves to working hard and produc-

jobs in social work had disappeared.

ing work of quality. Jo was amazed at

Changes in the international economy

their progress, and they sent us home

had shriveled non-profit work in

with armfuls of potholders and their first

Nicaragua. I visited Aracely many times

quilts. Since then, after each visit we

during the first two years after Patric’s

have seen their skills and artistry grow

death. Sitting together, the odd pieces

as we return home with the fruits of

of our lives began to look like a "crazy

their labor—quilts, bags, purses,

quilt" of fabrics. They were not cut

pillowcases and place mats.

from the same cloth; the pattern was

Each woman receives a “base

hard to recognize; but we were making

payment” when she completes an item.

something beautiful—something we

After it is sold, she and the cooperative

could wrap ourselves in.

receive the additional proceeds. We

At that point God took our crazy

are working with several organizations

quilt in hand and started writing

which help market the work of women

straight with crooked lines. I decided

in developing countries, as well as

Aracely and I needed to start a women’s

selling their work at private showings,

quilting cooperative. For some time I

churches and school fairs. We will

had admired PeaceQuilts, an organization

soon be opening an online boutique on

that my friend Jeanne Staples had started Our goal is to help the women

in 2006, whose mission is economic

build strong bonds as a community and

empowerment for poor women in Haiti.

eventually become self-sustaining.

Jeanne gave me every encouragement,

Aracely has developed her quilting

and offered to take us under the umbrella

and leadership skills tremendously in

of PeaceQuilts. She recommended Jo Van

the last year. In October, she started

Loo, a master quilter from Phoenix who

a second cooperative in her own home.

speaks Spanish, to serve as a quilting

For Aracely, as well as for me, the

teacher for our project in Nicaragua.

women's cooperatives have been an

This seemed the perfect time to start

enormous source of joy and healing,

our effort, and Aracley was the perfect

and we are committed to their

person to organize and oversee it,

continuation and expansion.

Nancy Maginnis Davies is a Manhattanville College alumna (1955) and a former Lower School faculty member. Nancy served on the 91st Street Alumnae Board from 2003 to 2008. She has tutored in adult literacy and ESL, and now focuses on PeaceQuilts for Nicaragua.

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a lifelong connection efore becoming a student at 91st

Christina Traugott ’00


if not a day had gone by.

Convent of the Sacred Heart was

this concept of a lifelong, worldwide

not just an individual school, but a part

network has meant more to me than

of a worldwide community. This concept

ever before. I grew up in the Rockaways

first hit home when I was an Upper

and Hurricane Sandy hit my hometown

School student on a peer support training

hard. Many friends lost everything,

trip in New Orleans; we were welcomed

either because their homes burned

with open arms—and a lot of great

down or they lived in basement apart-

food—by families whose only link to us

ments that were attacked by 8 feet of

was Sacred Heart. I next experienced the

water, on average. Living in Shanghai,

power of being part of a global network

it’s been rough to be thousands of miles

while on a Sacred Heart service trip to

away at a time like this, but it also

Lima, Peru. The girls at the downtown

reminds me of how lucky I am to have

Sagrado Corazón welcomed us as sisters.

such an incredible support system. I

The nuns at the convent ensured our stay

was surprised and touched by how

was as comfortable as possible. And the

many of my CSH classmates have

faculty and students at the Sacred Heart

reached out to me over Facebook and

school we had helped to paint and clean

email. I’m still working my way through,

fed us their best foods and secretly

trying to send everyone thank yous,

prepared a glorious thank you ceremony.

but I can honestly say those messages

Street, I remember hearing that

I realized that Sacred Heart commu-

Over the past few weeks, though,

mean more than words can properly

nity seemed to exist everywhere. When

express. Messages from old friends and

I visited my relatives in Taiwan, I ran

reading about Mr. Chung and the Sacred

into my former Ethics teacher Mr.

Heart community’s efforts to help the

Higgins at the Sacred Heart in Taipei.

neighborhood in which my classmates

When I went to college, I could easily

Catherine Hannan, Mollie Twohig and

bond over Sacred Heart traditions with

I—among may other Sacred Heart

fellow alumnae from the Sacred Heart

alumnae—grew up are the truest testa-

schools across the country. And as

ments of the Sacred Heart promise I

recently as a year and a half ago, my

can think of. I take solace in knowing

good friend from 91st Street, Adriana

that my Sacred Heart family is helping.

Bonforte ’00, moved to Shanghai, where

While I can’t help but worry about

I currently live. Despite not seeing

my parents’ home and how my friends

one another since graduating 11 years

will rebuild their lives, Sacred Heart

before, we fell into friendship again as

gave me the tools to persevere and focus

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on my life in Shanghai. More important,

service projects as well. I am quite

Sacred Heart’s emphasis on being part of

active with a young professionals

a global community has been especially

volunteering and networking group

relevant to my job, which involves work-

called BEAN Shanghai. We volunteer at

ing with students from Shanghai who

orphanages, teach migrant students to

want to study abroad. It’s a college

read English, play mahjong with resi-

counselor/mentor role complicated by

dents of nursing homes, and work with

the idiosyncrasies of living in modern

developmentally disabled adults, among

day China. For example, when the party

other activities. A few weeks ago, I was

congress was meeting a few weeks ago,

lucky enough to combine my interests

Google’s functionality was taken offline,

in food and charities by arranging a

making it hard to coordinate with stu-

dessert table for a breast cancer aware-

dents and colleagues via email. Another

ness ball, the first of its kind in China.

common obstacle is registering students

Some BEAN organizers and I are also

for SATs. Chinese citizens who do not

planning to organize a hunger aware-

also hold a foreign passport cannot take

ness banquet based on the banquets

the test within China, so we have to

Oxfam holds (Oxfam hasn’t been allowed

register them for tests in Hong Kong,

to work in China for a few years).

Taiwan or Singapore. Likewise, many

China is a complicated place right

parents have never left China, let alone

now, experiencing tremendous growth

heard of colleges outside of the top ten,

but unable to pull everyone out of

so we have to educate them about the

poverty yet. The growth everyone talks

range of educational experiences avail-

about is mostly concentrated in big

able to students in the United States.

cities and along the coasts. One and a

And lastly, as I’m sure any student can

half million Chinese are now dollar

understand, writing college essays is

millionaires, but over 150 million

hard, but it is especially difficult if

Chinese people living in rural areas still

English is not your native language.

live below the poverty line (about $1.50

Despite the challenges, I love my

per day). The charity sector is still in

job—it’s unpredictable, interesting,

its infancy in China, but there are many

and allows me to gain insight into how

promising signs of future growth, and

Chinese families have adjusted to all

I’m excited to be a part of it.

of the changes in their country. It

If anyone reading this has the

also allows me to forge for others what

opportunity, I highly recommend

I was given by Sacred Heart: connec-

taking a trip to China sometime soon.

tions to the world beyond the walls of

If you need any tips or food recommen-

high school and the opportunity to

dations, just email me at ctraugott

experience the global community. I always love

Consistent with my Sacred Heart education, I try to make time for

hearing from members of the Sacred Heart family.

Christina Traugott ’00 graduated as salutatorian of her class. She then studied at Harvard University, graduating Cum Laude with an A.B. in Government. She currently lives in Shanghai, China and works for a startup in education consulting.

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Top row: Sr. Bayo with her sister, mother, father and brother; in her early teens on a family vacation; as a novice in 1949 Middle row: Sr. Bayo at the "Clothing Ceremony" where she entered the chapel as a bride and exited in the religious habit, March 1949; as a college Senior, Manhattanville 1948; 8th grade graduation, 1940; as a small child Bottom row: Sr. Bayo with her great-nephew; enjoying a book (late 1930’s); her first assignment as a young nun at 91st Street

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les amies 2013


SisterBayo E veryone loves Sr. Bayo. But don’t ask her

leader. Sr. Bayo is, in the

about it. She’s far too modest. She’ll say

words of many current

she’s nothing without the rest of the

students, “part of what makes

teachers, that she’s just part of a team, and

Sacred Heart, Sacred Heart.”

she’ll subtly steer the conversation toward the

It is nearly impossible to imagine

merits of some other educator instead.

the halls of the school without

If you want to know how much everyone

her. But this September, after

adores Angela Bayo, RSCJ, just read any of the

45 years of dedicated service,

many cards, letters and journals that mention

Sr. Bayo decided to retire—and

her name.

relocate. Many people knew

“The first time I met her and saw her eyes,”


about her recent major surgeries,

writes a third grade student, “at that moment

but the news of her move was unexpected, and

I felt that I was welcomed in this school.”

when she made the announcement at the opening

“Our daughters in their red-and-white

Mass for faculty and staff, there were a few gasps

checked pinafores are often clustered around

and some tears. You’d never know it to look at

you in a collective hug,” writes a parent, “the

her, but the luminous Sr. Bayo is 86 years old.

ultimate testimony of their love, acceptance,

Still, the idea that she was moving to Abba

and devotion.”

House, the residential care facility in Albany

“I remember going through all of Lower School feeling there was a special presence behind me and cheering me on,” a ninth grader

run by the Society of the Sacred Heart, seemed inconceivable. With characteristic eloquence and grace,

writes. “I will always remember you like a

however, Sr. Bayo turned the news into an

guardian angel or a saint.”

opportunity to show her love for the school.

“I like when I curtsy to Sister Bayo,” writes

Speaking extemporaneously, she promised to

a kindergartener. “She gives me a big smile and

devote at least one full day of prayer to each

I know she loves me.”

member of the 91st Street community. The

“You always have that beautiful twinkle in

moment encapsulated many of the characteristics

your eye that makes us feel so special,” write

and gifts that make Sr. Bayo such a cherished

two fourth graders. “You shine out like the stars!”

figure: her ability to speak publicly, from the

Sr. Bayo is clearly beloved throughout the

heart, without a script or notes; her skill at

91st Street community. Serving first as Head of

making each person feel heard, recognized, and

the Lower School and then as the Lower School’s

important; her openness to change; her instinc-

religious education consultant, she has touched

tive leadership in difficult situations. Most of all,

the lives of thousands of children and adults, and

though, the moment embodied her faith in God

is revered as an extraordinary educator and

and in love.

“I like when I curtsy to Sister Bayo—she gives me a big smile and I know she loves me.” —a kindergartener

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Sr. Bayo’s belief in the power of love was cemented at a young age. Born in 1926 in New

“If you treat little children with love and respect, and you help them understand that you’re there for them rain or shine, they're happy.” —Sr. Bayo

the Sacred Heart school in the Bronx that would later become the Convent of the Sacred

York City, Angela Lucy Bayo

Heart in Greenwich. She loved the school. For

grew up hearing the story of

her there was no one favorite teacher; it was

how her parents fell in love at

the whole community that made it such a

first sight. Her father, who was

special place.

traveling in South America on

“The entire faculty was made up of women,

business, saw her mother and

mostly RSCJ, who were dedicated to helping you

instantly fell in love. When he

find your own values,” she said. “They all worked

had to return to the United

together to achieve this.”

States, they wrote letters to

By the time she was a teenager, she began

one another, eventually decid-

to sense that she had a religious vocation. At the

ing to marry by proxy so that

end of her senior year in college, the call was so

she could reunite with him in New York as his lawfully wedded wife. Sister Bayo grew up in a closely knit family

strong that she felt compelled to follow it. After graduating from Manhattanville College, she entered the Society of the Sacred Heart at

with her younger sister Mary and brother Louis

Kenwood, Albany, making her first vows in 1951,

in Manhattan. “We were very conscious of our

and her final profession in 1956. As a young nun, Sr. Bayo served at 91st Street only briefly before leaving for positions at other Sacred Heart schools. She made a big impression, however, on Mary Ranney RSCJ, the Head of the Lower School at the time. In 1967, when Mother Ranney was called to become the Superior of the Sacred Heart community at 91st Street, she immediately thought of Sr. Bayo as her replacement. Sr. Bayo had multiple responsibilities as the Head of the Lower School, including overseeing the curriculum, managing teachers and their training, and organizing events. The best part of her job, though, was the time she got to spend directly with 91st Street’s youngest students, those in Pre-K through fourth grade. She relished

Sr. Bayo at two years old and in a photograph taken outside the chapel for the 2002-2003 school calendar

parents’ love for us and lived our lives in an

their openness and joy in life. “If you treat little

atmosphere of caring for one another.”

children with love and respect, and help them

Sr. Bayo counts it as one of her greatest privileges to have been educated at Maplehurst,

understand that you’re there for them rain or shine, they’re happy,” said Sr. Bayo.

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Her special connection with young children is apparent to everyone. “She’s a unique individual,” said Kathleen

After 29 years as Head of the Lower School,

Lydic, a former 91st Street parent and the cur-

Sr. Bayo may

rent Director of Student Activities in the Lower

have decided it

School. “I have never met any woman who looks

was time for her

at a child —any child—and sees all that is good

to learn something

in her and is able to generate her love to that

new as well. In

child on a one-to-one basis” the way Sr. Bayo

1996, she retired

can, she said. “It’s remarkable.”

to pursue other

Pat Hult recalled congratulating a second

interests. After only

grader who had just performed at a Lower School

a year, however, she

assembly. The student responded that she

was asked to return

thought it might have been good because Sr.

to 91st Street to

Bayo had liked it. “How do you know?” asked

serve as a consultant

Mrs. Hult. “Because when Sr. Bayo likes some-

for religious education

thing,” the girl answered, “she always gets water

in the Lower School

in her eyes.”

and to prepare second

She enjoyed the children’s forthrightness, even when it resulted in occasional awkward situations. Sr. Bayo recounted the time Nancy

graders for their First Holy Communion. To the delight of everyone, she said yes. Everyone who knows Sr. Bayo agrees that

Salisbury RSCJ, the formidable Head of the entire

she approaches the ceremony of First Communion

school at the time, stood with her to greet the

with joy and reverence.

Lower Schoolers as they entered the Front Hall.

“No one knows how to prepare the girls as

When Sr. Salisbury asked one five year old her

well,” said Regina Holohan. “She knows the

name, the child said, “I told you yesterday! Why

importance of practice and making sure every-

can’t you remember?” Sr. Salisbury didn’t miss a

thing is in place. She is very exact.” And, Regina

beat. She just smiled and promised to try harder

continued, Sr. Bayo “has such a soft manner, she

the following day.

presents things so kindly,” that everyone wants

Because faculty play such a key role in education, Sr. Bayo believed in fostering each


to do as she asks. “The sacrament of the Eucharist is an integral

teacher’s individual gifts. Recognizing, appreciat-

part of our lives and our relationship with God,”

ing and nurturing their unique talents would

said Sr. Bayo. She still remembers her own first

help them become the best at whatever they

communion very well. “I was so moved by the

were teaching. As a manager, Sr. Bayo stressed

ceremony,” she said. “It’s hard to put into words,

inclusion and harmony. “She always believed

but somehow God was present to me, and I to Him,

happy teachers made happy students,” said

in a way I’d never experienced before.” She paused.

Regina Holohan, a former kindergarten teacher.

“It was truly a moment that changed my life.”

Sr. Bayo cherishes letters written to her by former students.

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“When we’re in the Chapel, you see that the students are capable of internalizing the meaning of the Eucharist,” Kathleen Lydic said of the girls during the ceremony. She credits Sr. Bayo. They might not understand all of the theological implications, she said, “but the girls understand Sr. Bayo, and her love for them and for God. And that’s impressive.” “There is a sense of reverence and holiness about her,” said Adele Gallo, a Lower School religion teacher who currently teaches the second graders about the sacrament of communion. “She is so authentic and so focused...children trust her instinctively.” Perhaps that is because Sr. Bayo, who is well-read

“She is so authentic and so focused... children trust her instinctively.” —Adele Gallo Lower School religion teacher

and regularly peppers her conversation with references to theologians as well as the Bible, believes in her heart that God is not about rules. God is about love. And love

is at the core of Sr. Bayo’s being. “If you give her a minute to talk,” said Adele Gallo, “she cannot resist talking about love. That’s just who she is.” Sr. Bayo’s love is a powerful force. As Pat Hult said, “One of the greatest joys of my time at this school is that I have been loved by Sr. Bayo.” Thousands of us in the 91st Street community could say the same. Saint Madeleine Sophie said that she would have founded the Society of the Sacred Heart for the sake of one child. When a child first walks through our doors, Sr. Salisbury once wrote, “this vision of St. Madeleine Sophie becomes a reality as Sister Bayo looks into her

eyes on her first day of school...she knows that in Sister Bayo’s heart she will always be that one special child. What greater gift could be given!” Thank you, Sr. Bayo. We love you.

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Joe Ciancaglini on Sr. Bayo St. Thomas Aquinas prayed: Give me, O Lord, a steadfast heart which no unworthy thought can drag downwards; an unconquered heart which no tribulation can wear out; an upright heart which no unworthy purpose can tempt aside. Bestow upon me also, O Lord my God, understanding to know thee, diligence to seek thee, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace thee… Aquinas must have been thinking about a heart like Sister Bayo’s when he wrote these words centuries ago. Sister Bayo has been the heart of 91st Street for the last 46 years. Her love for each of us knows no bounds. Her vision is laser-sharp when she looks into a child’s eyes. Sr. Bayo sees is a child of God who is here on earth to fulfill a purpose only that child can fulfill. Her advice and direction to every adult around her is simple—find a way to reach that child’s heart because that is where God is. On more than one occasion, Sister Bayo has come in to my office to talk about the state of the school. No matter the topic, Angie would take a moment. Think. Pray. And with the precision of a surgeon she would cut to the heart of the matter: “What can we do to make that child or adult know that she is loved by God and by us?” When Sr. Bayo was a young nun in formation, the nuns who trained her were only one degree removed from St. Madeleine Sophie herself. From Angie to the foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart to each one of us, there are only two degrees of separation. Nothing would make Sister Bayo happier than to see each of us bring the love of the heart of God into the world in everything we do and with every person we meet. Thank you, dear Angie, for loving us so much.

I n c e l e b ra t i o n o f

A N G E L A BAYO, R S C J and her

4 6 Y E A R S O F S E RV I C E to the

9 1 s t S T R E E T C O M M U N I T Y, Sacred Heart is creating a journal dedicated to her. It will be distributed at the 2013 Benefit in May, with a special hard-bound edition presented to Sr. Bayo. We hope that you will use this opportunity to tell Sr. Bayo what she has meant to the community and to you and your family by purchasing an advertisement. Proceeds from the journal will go to establish the

Angela Bayo, RSCJ Endowment Fund.

For complete details including order forms, please contact Zaida Cruz Bonilla at (212) 722-4745 x136, or Serra Yavuz at (646) 334-2808. You can also download an order form directly by visiting


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Lovella Beres on Sr. Bayo hen I was about 20 years old, I had the privilege of meeting Sr. Bayo. I was interviewing for the position of head teacher in the Lower School at the Convent of the Sacred Heart on 91st Street in Manhattan. My first interview was with Sr. Bayo, Head of the Lower School. Being raised in the Lutheran tradition, I had not met very many nuns in my life, and I was a little nervous as I had not yet become a Catholic. Sr. Bayo greeted me in the school’s front hall wearing a long black habit and a lovely warm smile on her face. I still remember what I wore as if it were yesterday. It was a long sleeved pink, raw silk, conservative dress with white collar and cuffs. In the style of the time it was "Mini" length—very mini. After a short time with Sr. Bayo I realized I had nothing to dread. I was hired and in no time at all I realized how blessed I was to be part of this amazing community with happy opportunities and enriching experiences. Ninety-First Street is a community of people who are given choices. With this freedom to choose one develops confidence and courage. It is with confidence and courage that the children at the Convent of the Sacred Heart learn from a very early age that they can make a difference in the world. For example, at Thanksgiving time, Sr.Bayo would have the teachers in the Lower School send home a note with the children to bring in items of non-perishable foods, and money to contribute toward buying a turkey to create a bountiful Thanksgiving dinner for a family that was not as fortunate as they are. The children were so happy


to be helping others and they always went above and beyond in their generosity of giving by always bringing in extra items. The excitement and happiness the children expressed while doing this and other projects throughout the year was clearly visible. St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, foundress, said, "Your example, even more than your words, will be an eloquent lesson to the world." Sr. Bayo was that example for her faculty and

students. They in turn would be examples for others. Sr. Bayo was a good listener. She always cared about what her faculty members had to say and this is something most remembered by them. Sr Bayo had a profound effect whenever she spoke at school events or meetings. Very often I would have tears in my eyes. Her penchant for excellence in both academic and personal growth became our model for educating the whole child. In addition it was quite evident that Sr. Bayo had a deep appreciation and understanding of the arts.

Sr. Bayo’s belief in the importance of the arts in educating the whole child was exceptional. "Without friendship, we cannot go safely even a short distance." —Janet Erskine Stuart, RSCJ. When Sr. Bayo was asked what being a member of the Sacred Heart community meant to her, she answered, “To begin with, there's a community here of teachers, students and parents who have deepened in me an appreciation of the importance of having friends. I've become a better person because of them. I definitely grow in the measure that I feel connected to other people, no matter how young or old they are, no matter where they come from. I see them as gifts in my life, reflecting back to me, each in her or his own way, something of God’s own Beauty, Truth or Love.” She went on to say, "It is my hope that each child of the Sacred Heart feels as if she has been educated with great care. In her time here, the adults seek to model and teach confidence, character, intellect and a healthy spirit. Educating the whole person is not easy, but we do it. And when it is done, we realize that the children have had just as great an impact on us as we have had on them.” Sr. Bayo's decision to retire is tremendously difficult for all in the Sacred Heart community, even though we wish her every happiness. She has been such a powerful influence on students and the entire adult community over the past 46 years. Her presence all those years fills every memory. It will be hard to imagine 91st Street without Sr. Bayo.

Lovella Beres taught kindergarten at 91st Street for over 41 years. She is currently retired and lives in New York City and Long Island.

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Pat Hult on Sr. Bayo emories can play tricks sometimes. You remember something that happened many years ago, but the picture in your mind is so clear that it seems like it happened yesterday. And so is my memory of the very first time I met Sr. Bayo. I was a candidate for a maternity leave replacement in the fourth grade and I met Sr. Bayo in the Front Hall. Her gracious and gentle demeanor, her love for children, and her concern that they receive only the best—all of that came though immediately. I did not know then that I was beginning a thirty-five year relationship that I would come to cherish. Whenever I think of Sr. Bayo, I think of those few but powerful words of Madeleine Sophie... “it is the life lived”—a simple statement, so full of meaning. But in so many ways, it defines Sr. Bayo. Sister Bayo often told me how she came to be Head of Lower School at 91st Street. As a young nun, She had been assigned to 91st Street for just a short time before she went to Grosse Point to be Head of our school there. While she was here for that short time, Mother Ranney was the Head of Lower School. When Mother Ranney was preparing to leave her position as Head of Lower School, she was asked who she wanted to replace her. She immediately thought of Sr. Bayo. Sr. Bayo said she was always so amazed that Mother Ranney thought of her when her stay at 91st Street had been so short. Sr. Bayo might have been amazed, but none of us are today. Mother Ranney was a sharp observer of people, and she saw in Sr. Bayo someone who would bring the mission


of Sacred Heart naturally to the children of 91st Street because that mission was so much a part of who she was. That mission defined Sr. Bayo as a person and as an educator. And what did it mean that Sr. Bayo was to lead her faculty in the Lower School for 29 years and teach us the essence of what a Sacred Heart education was? It meant that every decision Sr. Bayo made, every plan she proposed

Pat Hult and Sr. Bayo with Mother Ranney

for the future, and every daily interaction, all were centered on what would be best for the children, what would be best for that individual child. As future years would come to reveal, sometimes those decisions would be hard ones. Maybe at times there was a difficult message for parents to hear, but it was always delivered with such obvious love for the child and her welfare. If you were to ask the many faculty members who had the privilege of working under her leadership and guidance, what it was that made Sr. Bayo such a unique leader and educator, these are some of the

responses you might receive: She has such compassion for the individual, for the child, for the parents, for the teachers. She is so open to listening to our ideas. She is so willing to give you a chance to try something new that you believe in, to give you the opportunity to grow. She possesses such respect for what you can bring to our community. She believes that every faculty member has gifts to share and she wants them to feel comfortable in sharing them. She puts such effort into preparing children for the future—for what they need to know, for the way they need to present themselves in different situations, for the way they need to learn to express their ideas. She believes in the power of love. And because of that the atmosphere in the Lower School was always one of caring and concern. Sr. Bayo has been at 91st Street for 46 years. For the last 17 years, she has been a beacon of light for the entire community. She has represented all that we believe in when we say that a Sacred Heart education is different, unique. To say that we shall miss her does not begin to describe the depth of our feeling of loss. However, we remain forever grateful for the gift we received in the presence of Sr. Angela Bayo. Our collective memory of Sr. Bayo’s time at 91st Street could easily be expressed in these words of St. Madeleine Sophie: “How immense God’s love is! It will call for boundless self-giving on your part.” Thank you, Sr. Bayo for all you have given us these many years.

Patricia Hult taught fourth grade at 91st Street for 8 years. She served as Head of the Middle School before becoming Head of the Lower School in 1996, and served as interim Head of School during the 2006-07 academic year.


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It’s no secret that entrepreneurship is on the rise. Approximately 388 million entrepreneurs are starting or running new businesses worldwide, according to the most recent “Global Entrepreneurship Monitor” (GEM) from Babson College—more than the entire population of the United States. And it is estimated that at least 163 million of those entrepreneurs are women. In the following pages, we interviewed four alumnae who have recently joined the ranks of female entrepreneurs. Each woman’s company sells very different products, and each business is at a different stage of development. But read carefully. After all, 91st Street is an all-girls school with a worldwide network. What better place to discover the next big thing?

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Molly Krause Fienning ’98

Babiators take off In 2010 Molly Krause Fienning, who graduated from 91st Street in 1998, founded Babiators, a company that makes stylish aviator sunglasses for children. Within less than two years, Molly has taken Babiators from 1 to 800 stores and 25 countries worldwide, including Neiman Marcus stores, Bloomingdale’s, Harrod’s, Nordstrom and more. In addition to its retail success, Babiators has been featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Today Show, Good Morning America, US Magazine, People Magazine, BBC World News, CNBC and Newsweek. Babiators has also developed a devoted celebrity fan base, including Sarah Jessica Parker, Beyoncé, Jennifer Garner, Mariah Carey, and Hillary Duff. Prior to founding Babiators, Molly worked to analyze the role of the Internet in national security, education and business development at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, Harvard Law School and IBM, respectively. Molly graduated from Harvard University in 2002, where she earned a B.A. in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science.

Headmistress, Sr. Nancy Salisbury, who told my class when we were young girls dreaming of our futures: “No matter what you do, if you listen to your heart, success will follow.” Those words have often guided me in my post-college life. How did you get the idea for Babiators? I was on a military flight line in Beaufort, SC, waiting for my husband Ted to return home after a deployment, when I had my entrepreneurial spark for Babiators. The entire squadron’s families were there, excited for their fathers or mothers to land after the long trip away. The children were running around in the sun, squinting from the brightness while trying to identify their parents in a sea of green flight suits and grey jets. I thought, if the pilots have cool military-issued aviator sunglasses, their kids should too! My husband Ted loved the idea and creatively coined the name Babiators for “baby aviators.” A few days later, we told our good

What do you remember most about 91st Street?

friends, Carolyn and Matthew Guard, who were interested

I have many wonderful memories of my fifteen years at

in partnering. We put together a survey, did some market

91st Street—from costumed school performances, creative

research and realized that promoting safe, durable and

chemistry experiments, and awesome sports victories to the

awesome sunglasses for children was a compelling business

school’s joyful holiday spirit during Christmastime and its

model. We incorporated Babiators, LLC in October 2010,

beautiful, quiet corridors at night on yearbook sleepovers.

and officially launched the product in May 2011.

I also remember a powerful piece of advice from our late


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What’s unique about your product?

How has your Sacred Heart education helped you?

From our surveys, we learned that parents did

I am so grateful for my fifteen years at Sacred Heart, as I

not like current children’s sunglasses because

know my time there as a girl was fundamental in both my

they broke too easily and were often lost by

entrepreneurial success and my deep happiness in family

their kids. We answered these concerns by

life. Sacred Heart fosters in its students a real independence

manufacturing stylish aviator sunglasses for

of thought, the ability to speak one’s mind while still

kids that are safe (offering 100% sun protection)

listening to others, a pioneering spirit and the importance

and durable (made out of flexible rubber frames, instead

of always giving back—all important qualities for a woman

of cheaper plastic). We also created our “Lost & Found

looking to become an entrepreneur. Sacred Heart also

Guarantee,” making Babiators the only children’s brand

encourages each individual to strive for the best version

to replace our customers’ pairs for free if lost and broken.

of herself, and to accept and love herself for who she is,

This guarantee against loss has strongly differentiated us

not in comparison to others.

from other brands on the market. Who influenced you at Sacred Heart? What has the response been like? How have you balanced it all?

No one can talk about the strength of Sacred Heart without

Within the first year of launching Babiators, we generated

Mme.Taran, Dr. Sheppard, Sr. Bayo, Mrs. Hult, Mr. Humphreys

an incredible wave of positive press, including features on

and Ms. Savino, to name just a few among many, were

mentioning the excellent caliber of teachers it offers:

The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Today

incredibly supportive role models for me.

Show, Good Morning America, Giuliana

Sr. Bayo embodied a rare and impressive

& Bill, CNBC’s Mad Money and The

combination of discipline, humor and

Huffington Post. We had also built a

elegance; Dr. Sheppard challenged me

devoted celebrity following, including

to participate in a prestigious science

Sarah Jessica Parker, Beyoncé, Mariah

competition even though no student

Carey, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jennifer

had considered doing so in years;

Garner and Neil Patrick Harris.

Mr. Humphreys and Ms. Poreba combined

Babiators are now selling in over 800

History and English into a double-period

retailers and 25 countries, including Neiman Marcus,, Harrod’s, Nordstrom,,, Kitson and Fred Segal.

interdisciplinary class, leading this Babiators donates a portion of its profits to the Children’s Eye Foundation, which aims to eliminate preventable blindness in children.

important educational trend long before it was popularized at other high schools. Sacred Heart was, and is, a treasure trove

Babiators was also just named “Best

of life-changing teachers. My greatest

New Company” of 2012 by leading

influence during my time at Sacred

industry magazine Earnshaw’s.

Heart, though, was Madame Taran. Mme

During our incredible first year of business, Ted and I

Taran completely changed my perception of academics—the

also had our first child, Sawyer, who is the greatest blessing

value of pursuing my studies with attention and purpose,

in our lives. My days are spent between time for Ted and

versus simply going through the motions to get the work

Sawyer and time for Babiators, which makes for a busy,

done. She was a key ingredient in my success at Sacred

wonderful balance between work and family.

Heart, at Harvard and in life (as she was for many of her

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Latin students). I am extremely grateful

lessons available to learn and grow so

for the active role she played in my

that when interesting opportunities

educational development.

present themselves to you as adults, you have the ability to follow your heart, too.

What advice would you give the Sacred Heart students of today? The sense of fulfillment and purpose I have as a woman, wife, mother, and entrepreneur are built on the wisdom I gained from mentors like Sr. Salisbury, Mme. Taran, Dr. Sheppard and many other friends and teachers I encountered at Sacred Heart. I encourage students at

I intend to heed those wise words from Sr. Salisbury for the rest of my life, listening to my heart, putting in sufficient effort for the reward I seek and knowing that true success will always follow, which for me is a life full of love, community, purpose and spirit. And as for Babiators? It’s full speed ahead from here...

91st Street to take advantage of the

Valerie Rodriguez McMurray ’87

Bright as the sun When Valerie Rodriguez McMurray ’87 was a freshman at 91st street, she studied and lived in France through Sacred Heart’s international exchange program. Despite initial jitters, she formed a close friendship with her host family and returned to visit them in Cannes the following summer. The glamorous and sophisticated city made a deep impression. In 2010, Valerie single-handedly started Soleil Organique, an eco-friendly skincare company greatly informed by her travels abroad. Her high-SPF sunscreens, lotions and creams flew off the shelves of the luxury hotel shops where they were first sold. Since then, Valerie, who earned her undergraduate degree at Barnard and her MBA at Wharton, has steadily expanded the business, and sales and revenue have grown each quarter. Soleil Organique now has a robust presence online, and was named the exclusive provider of guest room and poolside sun care amenities at the ultra-luxury Dorado Beach Resort & Club in Puerto Rico, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, which opened in December 2012 with more than 100 hotel rooms and residences. The products also are available for retail sale there. The


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married mother of three young children who now lives in a New York City suburb, Valerie may be far removed from that summer in the French Riviera, but her days are infused with reminders whenever she tugs at her finely tuned supply chain to fill orders from around the world. Fellow alums Eileen Flood O’Connor ’87 and Lisi de Bourbon ’85 sat down with Valerie last fall for an interview about the rewards and challenges of running her own business, how she got her start and Sacred Heart’s background role in it.

a lot of people besides bankers. What was great about the program was its case-study approach. I spent so much time studying real-life scenarios, and what a business did wrong or right and how it made its decisions. In what way did 91st Street influence your decision to start a business? Sacred Heart gave me confidence in my judgment and the confidence of knowing that even if I failed, the world wouldn’t come to an end. It’s given me the willingness to try this, the willingness to accept failure if it happens and the resolve to know that it’s going to be OK either way. I know

Why did you go into business for yourself?

that if this business, despite my passion for it and my belief

I worked in the financial services industry for almost 20

that these products are good for your skin and make you

years, and for the most part worked in sales to large institu-

feel good, doesn’t work out, it’s not going to knock me down.

tional clients. As much as I loved selling a product I cared about and believed in, it wasn’t a field that was letting me be as creative as I wanted to be. I also had this nagging

My Sacred Heart friends have also have been hugely important. [Interviewers smile appreciatively] My friends from Sacred Heart have given me so much

feeling that I had to do something that reflected more

support and so many ideas and have been very willing testers

of my own energy and passion in life. It’s always more

(of my skin care products.) Melissa O’Donnell (Class of ’87),

interesting and satisfying to me to pursue something I

who has owned her own restaurant for years, has been

came up with on my own rather than pursue someone else’s

particularly influential. She helped me see this was possible.

idea. I knew that having my own business would give me the independence I wanted and the creative outlet I needed to be happy in what I did for a living.

How did you come up with the idea to manufacture allnatural skin care products? I was pregnant during the summer with

How helpful has having an M.B.A. been to you in your own business?

my third baby and was always putting

It’s definitely not essential, but it’s been

you’re always told, don’t eat this cheese

worth it for me. I had been in the work-

or that fish or cold cut; don’t take that

force for several years before I decided

Tylenol or drink a cup of coffee; don’t

to go to business school. I was working

get your hair dyed; stay away from

for an investment bank and wanted to

wine...So there I was that summer

expose myself to other areas and disci-

always slathering this lotion on my body

plines within the business world, and go

and I started to wonder about the things

to a school that had a strong program

that were in it and whether they’d have

for entrepreneurs. Darden, at the University of Virginia, was the perfect fit. There were marketing people, venture capitalists, brand managers, operations people and tech people—

on sunscreen. When you’re pregnant,

Soleil Organique donated 12,000 sunscreen sticks to United States troops via Operation Gratitude. The company also supprts SpaFinder in raising awareness about early melanoma detection and prevention.

an effect of some sort on the baby. I figured I was so careful about everything else, I should be careful about skin care products I was using. I started looking into the market

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Left: Valerie with her daughter, Tate Right: Soleil Organique products have been featured in publications such as Lucky, InStyle, and New Beauty

and found there was no mineral-based or all-natural sun

and came to this country and started his own practice.

care line out there that would evoke the lifestyle I wanted

He built a name for himself. It was just him and he loved it.

a sunscreen to evoke when I wore it. Like the way I felt

My mother worked at the United Nations for thirty-five years

whenever I put on Bain de Soleil, but without the orange

and she loved what she did. Their passion and success in

colored petroleum and the low SPF. I wanted to make

their work was and continues to be an inspiration to me.

a product that offered total sun protection that had ingredients I could pronounce and didn’t feel like paste

What’s the hardest part about this?

when I put it on.

I am completely new to skin care and sun screens and was never in the business. I didn’t know the first thing about it

Is there an entrepreneur that you most admire or who has served as inspiration for your work?

so I had to give myself a crash course in it. Then I had to

I would have to say my parents—though they were not

would I get them and who would make them. There were so

‘business’ entrepreneurs in the traditional sense, their

many little things to figure out...finding a designer for the

dedication to their work and to their family inspires and

logo and the look and feel of the tubes, and then finding a

informs all that I do. My father was born and raised in the

manufacturer for them. I was starting from scratch. It’s not

Philippines and had nothing. He became a general surgeon

easy finding the right person to create sunscreen.

figure out what ingredients were the right ones, where


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entre pre neur ial spirit

What’s been the fun part?

taking on huge debt or draining your 401k to finance your

Finally figuring out how to do it, and seeing

business. You have to be practical. Know what you’re willing

everything come together and then being told

to lose, and that’s what you invest.

that something I actually made is worth having

I have to add that having an incredibly supportive

on the shelf of a shop in a luxurious resort or

family and husband has been hugely important. They are

a chic boutique in L.A. and that people actually

completely behind me, and have always encouraged and

want to pay a fair amount of money for something

challenged me to take risks, to be creative and to work

that is good for their skin, smells good, doesn’t sting their

hard to achieve my goals.

eyes and makes them feel good and comes in a package that’s attractive and biodegradable. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback about it, and it’s not just from people like you two! [Interviewers smile appreciatively again]

What are the next steps for Soleil Organique? It’s in a pretty good place now because it’s growing. Sales and revenues have been growing steadily each quarter, and I’m ratcheting up production now so I’ll be ready for spring

What advice would you give to 91st Street students and alumnae considering their own business prospects— starting their own business?

and summer. I want to build this brand to the extent that

I would advise them to explore their passions, but to do it

now but will once it happens. Stay tuned!

I can, and I’m looking to expand to other resorts, spas, specialty retailers, and other areas which I can’t talk about

in a smart way. You can’t do it by selling your house or

Deya Murray Warren ’96

Gluten-free for me Deya Murray Warren graduated from 91st Street in 1996. She then studied at Davidson College and later obtained her law degree from St. John’s University. Shortly after being diagnosed with a gluten intolerance, Deya started experimenting with gluten-free baking, but she was dissatisfied with the products available, and soon began mixing her own gluten-free flour blends. In 2011, she left the practice of law to launch Deya’s Gluten Free in the hopes of sharing her flour blends with the gluten-free community. Deya has also studied at the Culinary Institute of America and the Institute of Culinary Education. Editor’s note: As Les Amies was going to print, Deya, husband Gus and daughter Greta welcomed a new member of the family, Peter Fitzsimmons Warren. Congratulations!

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Alumnae Calendar

We welcome all Alumnae to join us for the following special occasions:



Reunion 2013, 10:30 am



Spring Auction Benefit, 6:30 pm



Alumnae Board and Senior Class Luncheon, 12:00 pm



Alumnae Board Meeting, 6:00 pm



Alumnae Induction, 8:45 am



Graduation at Brick Presbyterian Church, 4:00 pm

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Planned Giving A bequest to Sacred Heart will support this educational tradition for future generations of young women. The most useful bequest is an unrestricted bequest for the general purposes of the school. This permits Sacred Heart to utilize your gift wherever it is needed at the time. You may make a bequest to the Convent of the Sacred Heart by preparing a new will or adding a codicil to your present will. To assure that your specific intentions are implemented correctly, wills and codicils should be prepared by or with the advice of your attorney. If you decide to make a bequest to Sacred Heart, please let us know so we may include your name in the Acorn Society in our annual report.

Additional Information: Legal Name:

Convent of the Sacred Heart


One East 91st Street, New York, NY 10128

Tax ID#:



Craig MacPherson


212-722-4745 ext. 107

Tax Status: Convent of the Sacred Heart is a tax-exempt not-for-profit organization as described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and section Gen 0928 of the United States Catholic Conference. Gifts and bequests are deductible for income, gift and estate tax purposes. For additional information about bequests or other possible planned giving vehicles, please call Craig MacPherson at 212-722-4745, ext. 107.

Suggested language for use in making an unrestricted gift: “I give and bequeath to the Trustees of the Convent of the Sacred Heart, a New York non-profit corporation located at One East 91st Street, New York, N.Y., (the sum of ___________ dollars), (all or ___% of the residuary of my estate) to be applied by the Board of Trustees for its general purposes, but otherwise without restriction as to use.”

Suggested language to make a bequest establishing an endowment for a specific purpose: “I give and bequeath (the sum of ______ dollars), (all or ______% of the residuary of my estate) to the Convent of the Sacred Heart, a New York nonprofit corporation located at One East 91st Street, New York, N.Y. to create an endowed fund, the income and accumulated gain are to be used for the following purposes: (state specific purposes). If at any time in the judgment of the Trustees of the Convent of the Sacred Heart the designated use of this bequest is no longer practicable or appropriate, then the Trustees shall use the bequest to further the general purposes of Sacred Heart, giving consideration, where possible, to my special interest as described above.”

Alumnae Website The alumnae section of the website at has lots to offer! In addition to finding all alumnae event information including Reunion 2013, you can: • Find your fellow classmates and other alumnae around the world via a Google map search

• Access the entire 91st Street and Noroton Alumnae Directory in a password-protected environment

• Post job opportunities and internships for CSH alumnae or current students

• Read all the latest news about the school and alumnae community

• Submit your Les Amies class notes and photos electronically

• Browse through alumnae event picture galleries And much more…

• Sign up to be a career mentor For help logging on, please contact Maggie O’Hara at (212) 722-4745 ext 106 or at



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Graduation Class 2012

Front Row Kathryn Terrell University of Georgia Elizabeth Leonard Wellesley College Audrey Ketchell New York University Claudia Baldacchino University of Edinburgh Michaela Murphy Colgate University Olivia Marolda Northwestern University Ilena Vigden Chapman University Tatiana Perez Williams College Valerie Leveille Davidson College Isabella Spinozzi Wake Forest University Charlotte Martin Oberlin College

Second Row Nicole Antonucci Fairfield University Andrea Paez Amherst College Sabrina Giacometti Wake Forest University Cameron Dunne Hamilton College Everlena Tenn Amherst College Carli Pantelidis Fordham University Sophie Geoghan MIT Shannon Bader University of Notre Dame Aileen Leitner Johns Hopkins University Natalie Bennett Colgate University Elizabeth Mullarney Georgetown University Melina Cuesta Pomona College Emma Sharon Vassar College

Third Row Sarah Konig Georgetown University Margaret Ellis Miami University, Oxford Celia Flinn Claremont McKenna College Gena Amodeo Hamilton College Claire Burns Boston College Kelley Dugan New York University Laura De Giorgis Georgetown University Paloma Main University of Notre Dame Avery Pagan Williams College Danielle Tierney College of the Holy Cross Ornella Hernandez Northwestern University Diana Dover Oberlin College

Fourth Row Gari Francois Wesleyan University Riana Moore Connecticut College Carolyn McGuigan Johns Hopkins University Fanny Eaton Goucher College Catherine Isom Cornell University Juliet Auwaerter Hamilton College Hannah Lynch Johns Hopkins University Maiya Aiba Duke University Isabel Doran College of the Holy Cross Rachel Giacobbe Rhodes College Elizabeth Wilcox Pomona College Isabella Hassel Sewanee: The University of the South Kellyanna Polk Yale University

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Board of Trustees 2012–2013 Laurie Lapeyre Chair

Veronica Bennett Vice Chair

Caroleen Mackin, Greenwich ’77 Vice Chair

Michael Esposito Treasurer

Mary Anne Boyd Secretary

Joseph J. Ciancaglini Head of School

Diana Barrett ’62 Eric Bischoff Andrew Conner Margaret Crotty ’90 Catherine Curry ’70 Judith Garson ’53, RSCJ Carlos Guimaraes Rita Hernandez ’74 Philippe Laffont Sacha Lainovic Scott Lindsay Terry Meguid Cecile Meijer, RSCJ Jacqueline Mitchell Maureen O’Leary ’59 Eileen Patrick Jennifer Price Thomas Purcell Brian Riano Bradley Robins Valerie Rodriguez McMurray ’87 Kevin Sheridan, Jr. Paula Toner, RSCJ Richard E. Thornburgh Joseph A. Wilson

Andy Lott President, Parents Association

Lauren Sercander Dukes ’99 President, Alumnae Board

Honorary Trustees Joan C. Kirby, RSCJ Barbaree Meaney Alfred Y. Morgan III Crocker Nevin Mimi O’Hagan, Eden Hall ‘47 Emily K. Rafferty ‘67 Winthrop Rutherfurd Jr. John W. Townsend Richard N. Winfield

Alumnae Board 2012–2013 Lauren Sercander Dukes ’99 President

Melanie McEvoy-Quirke ’82 Vice-President

Conway Walthew Bate ’99 M. Stan Burke, Noroton ’71 Katherine Carrington ’87 Elizabeth Condren ’91 Kate Doherty ’98 Natalie Pica Friend ’02 Tracey Gardner ’92 Janine Jjingo ’98 Catherine Littlefield ’00 Lauren McDermott ’03 Lindsay Mejer ’02 Jean Zielinski Monaco ’79 Kathy Slusser Mullen ’73 Christina Denihan O’Donovan ’99 Karen Roschen Rodgers ’81 Elizabeth Boyd Shipley ’01 Lindsay Tomenson ’92 Deya Murray Warren ’96 Alisa Amarosa Wood ’97

Alumnae Board Emeritus Angela Bayo, RSCJ Greenwich ’44, Manhattanville ’48

Anne Mundell Creed Stone Ridge ’46

AASH Representatives Jane Reynolds Andrews Elmhurst ’62

Michele Rees Finn Eden Hall ’66

Ex Officios Joseph Ciancaglini Head of School

Susan Burke-O’Neal ’87 Director of Alumnae Relations

Alumnae Office Marti Schickel Ibrahim Newton College ’65

Maggie O’Hara ’05

About the Cover This year’s cover was illustrated by Kali Ciesemier to celebrate the completion of the rooftop renovation. There were variations of the cover printed representing each division. All three are shown here.

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2013 2013 Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage

PAID Nashua, NH Permit No. 375


Convent of the Sacred Heart 1 East 91st Street New York, NY 10128-0689

Page 3

Address Service Requested


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Les Amies 2013