This story was originally published in the spring 2012 issue of Harker Quarterly.
Compiled by William Cracraft, Igor Hiller and Zach Jones
Medical Students Drop By with Advice
The Harker School had two medical students – who also happen to be Harker graduates – stop by upper school science chair Anita Chetty’s classroom in late November. They spoke to three different classes about what being in med school is really like, giving soon-to-be college students an insider’s look into both the course of study and the career it leads to. Alfred See and Geetanjali Vajapey, both Class of 2004, were home for Thanksgiving break when they decided to drop in and surprise Chetty, their former teacher. See, Chetty says, was also in the area interviewing for a residency. Chetty was pleased to see them both, especially considering they were only home for a few days. “It’s a nice reminder that Harker is truly a family, even after graduation, whose students are always willing to share their time and expertise,” she said.
Harker Academy Grad Publishes Timely Book on Muslim Americans
Ayesha Mattu ’86 was featured on the Sunday front page of the San Jose Mercury News Living section on Feb. 26. She co-edited a book titled “Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women.” In the book, 25 Muslim women share their search for love and speak openly for the first time about love, relationships, sexuality, gender, identity, homophobia and racism.
Mattu, who attended Harker Academy for grades 3-7, received Harker’s 2008 Alumni Community Service award. After graduating from Clark University, Mattu’s first job was as a public relations manager for Sahil, a Pakistani non-governmental organization addressing child abuse. Working on such a controversial and taboo subject in a conservative Islamic society proved challenging and rewarding.
After Sahil, Mattu worked for Hagler-Bailly, where she researched community initiatives connected to the Himalayan Brown Bear Conservation Project. She then moved to Boston, where she was the coordinator for institutional giving at Grassroots International, a human rights organization that works with social movements and progressive organizations to build a global movement for social justice. Mattu met her husband at Grassroots International, and the pair moved to San Francisco, where she worked as a development officer for the Global Fund for Women.
In addition to her book editing work, Mattu is currently self-employed as a philanthropy consultant, helping organizations and individuals formulate strategies and practices to foster a social-change grant-making model. Congratulations to Mattu on the publication of her book!
Tufts Grad Manages Campaign to Raise $500,000 for Nonprofit
Shawn Huda ’06 said he first discovered Let’s Get Ready (LGR) during his sophomore year at Tufts University. “As a product of a minority, single parent household, I was immediately drawn to the nonprofit’s mission: to help break the cycle of poverty by empowering students to attend college,” said Huda.
While at Tufts, Huda worked a semester as a verbal coach at LGR and three semesters as the director of the Tufts LGR program. After graduating from Tufts in 2010, Huda went on to work as a program associate in LGR’s Boston office, overseeing multiple programs.
“I discovered major benefits of the model that mirrored tenets of the Harker experience,” said Huda. “Classes were kept small (five students, on average) to ensure individualized attention and guidance; students both at the high school and college levels were empowered to take greater responsibility and ownership inside the classroom and out; and rather than focusing solely on one aspect, the SAT, the program took a holistic approach to preparing students for the college application process,” Huda said.
He was given the unique role of managing LGR’s campaign for the 2011 American Giving Awards Competition and, in December, under Huda’s management, LGR took second place, a ranking determined via the campaign’s Facebook voting drive, and won the group $500,000. Read the story on LGR’s website: http://bit. ly/ok6bc5.
Alumna Wong ‘05 Founds Theater Company
Kimberley Wong ’05 has co-founded a groundbreaking theater company in New York. Her group, called The Accidental Shakespeare Company, mixes theater with improvisation, with casting decisions made by the audience moments before curtain and random props thrown into the mix.
The theater company is dedicated to the idea of play. Wong says she realized the little moments of terror during a performance – when an actor forgets his line, or a set piece malfunctions, or a prop is missing – often spur the most exciting, interesting and real moments on stage. “Lately, I have become really tired of the kind of theater where they say: Stand here. Do this. Move your arm like that,” said Wong. “You start to feel like a set piece.”
Wong believes accidents are part of the joy of live theater, which is why her company purposefully incorporates elements of change into their productions.
Harker’s performing arts program played a significant role in Wong’s education. As a kindergartner, she was cast as a fairy princess in “Cinderella.” Every year thereafter, Wong performed in Harker’s dance production. In grade 8, she performed in Harker Harmonics and played the lead role in “42nd Street” as a senior. She was also a musical theater certificate graduate in the Harker Conservatory. Said Wong, “I see how the work ethic, the professionalism and the passion that I learned at Harker set me apart from so many other actors. It is the reason … why I can develop and run my company!”
After graduation, Wong attended New York University, where she earned a BFA in drama. Her most recent theater credits include playing Juliet at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, and Wong is currently in an apprenticeship at the Pearl Theater in New York, understudying Julia in George Bernard Shaw’s “The Philanderer.”
Alumna Accepted to Oxford Visiting Student Program
Maggie Woods ’10 was recently accepted to a visiting student program at Oxford University. Currently a history major at Santa Clara University, Woods plans to study medieval and early modern British history as well as Latin and Greek during her stay at Oxford. “Oxford has been the dream since sophomore year of high school, pretty much as soon as I decided that I wanted to continue studying history,” Woods said. She visited Oxford while on a trip to London the summer after her junior year at Harker. “The atmosphere is magical, and not just because it reminds me of Harry Potter,” she joked. “I felt an urge to study while I was there.”