This article originally appeared in the spring 2015 Harker Quarterly.
Harker Welcomes Alumni Home for the Holidays
Sixty alumni from Harker’s classes of 2011 through 2014 returned to campus for the annual Home for the Holidays event held in early January. The casual afternoon of refreshments and socializing took place on the upper school campus in the festively decorated Nichols Hall atrium.
Upper school faculty and staff were invited to join in the fun, welcoming back and reminiscing with the college-age alumni, who were in town during their winter breaks.
Eric Zhang ’13 noted that it felt strange to be walking around the campus as a visitor and not as a student. “It’s odd to be here with no obligations,” he said.
Standing next to him, pal J.T. Cho ’13 agreed, adding, “It’s a new chapter in our lives.”
Zhang and Cho had already spent time hanging out over the break, and said they would continue to stay in touch with one another, the school and their peers.
According to Karri Baker ’84, director of alumni relations, alumni needn’t wait for the Home for the Holidays gathering to pop by and say “hi.” “We love to see them any time of the year!” she enthused.
Recent Harker Graduates Publish Articles in Prestigious Academic Journals
Thanks to their exceptional research, writing and critical-analysis skills, several recent Harker graduates have published articles on topics related to STEM, the social sciences and history. Vikram Sundar ’14, Jenny Chen ’13, Kevin Duraiswamy ’14 and Sarah Howells ’12 all had papers printed in highly regarded academic journals.
In February, the Harvard Political Review (HPR) published Sundar’s article, titled “Harvard Should Fix Its Gender Gap,” which focuses on the lack of women in STEM fields on campus. Written and published entirely by Harvard undergraduates, the HPR was launched in 1969 and remains America’s preeminent student journal of politics, policy and culture.
Sundar said he first became interested in writing the piece after noticing that very few of Harvard’s female students were pursuing STEM at a high level. That discovery, he explained, led him to try to determine what causes the gender gap at a high-level institution like Harvard and how the university could help fix the problem.
“The reaction (to the article) has been uniformly positive both from female students with STEM interests at Harvard and from their professors,” he reported.
In his article he asserts that it is easy to attribute the gender gap in technical fields to factors outside of Harvard’s control, and allows that this is largely true. He goes on to say, however, that there are simple steps Harvard can take to help reduce these discouraging factors. “After all, the existence of the gender gap means that we are losing around one-half of all highly capable STEM students because of cultural entrenchment,” he writes at the paper’s conclusion.
While doing research for his paper, Sundar spoke to fellow Harvard student and Harker alumna Ramya Rangan ’12, who is also making strides to level the field for women in STEM. Rangan is the current president of Harvard’s Women in Computer Science Society.
“This article shows that two of our graduates [now] at Harvard are dedicated to the issue of equity in STEM classes. A proud moment for us,” said Jennifer Gargano, assistant head of school for academic affairs.
Donna Gilbert, chair of the history and social sciences department at Harker’s upper school, noted that two alumnae also have been involved with the HPR: Olivia Zhu ’11 is the publication’s digital editor and Emily Wang ’13 has published a number of articles in the journal.
Meanwhile, Chen, a Stanford sophomore, submitted a paper she originally wrote as a Harker senior for Damon Halback’s course “International Issues in Public Policy” (now offered as “Modern International Affairs”) to the Stanford Undergraduate Research Journal (SURJ).
Her paper, “Employing a Vaccine-Centered Maximalist Policy to Mitigate the Cholera Crisis in Haiti” was published in the journal’s spring 2014 issue. According to Sue Smith, Harker’s library director who co-taught the research portion of Halback’s class, Chen was one of only two freshmen included in that issue of SURJ.
“In her bio for the journal, Chen says she was first introduced to public health policy (now her major, along with human biology) in Mr. Halback’s class, and that it inspired her to pursue research in epidemiology,” said Smith.
“I wrote my paper on cholera in Haiti in Damon Halback and Susan Smith’s International Issues in Public Policy class,” recalled Chen. “We were given a lot of freedom when choosing our paper topics, but I knew from the get-go that I wanted to write about global health and infectious disease. At the time Haiti was still reeling from the 7.0 earthquake in 2010, so I did more research on the issue and ended up writing my policy proposal for the class on the cholera epidemic that had developed in the aftermath of the earthquake.”
For the SURJ version of her article, Chen added an abstract and some final revisions. “The journal has been circulated among various research symposiums on campus, and to my surprise, I have even been approached by classmates and faculty who have read the article,” she said.
Kevin Duraiswamy ’14, now at Princeton University, was recently published by the well-respected Concord Review. His paper, which he wrote for one of Harker’s two humanities endowments programs, is titled “Ancients Alive: The Influence of the Roman Republic on James Madison’s Conception of the Senate and the Resulting Impact on the American Constitution.”
The Concord Review: A Quarterly Review of Essays by Students of History is the only academic journal in the world to publish the research papers of high school students. More than 1,000 history research papers have been published in The Concord Review, featuring authors from around the globe.
Duraiswamy received his grant from The John Near Excellence in History Education Endowment Fund, founded in 2009, which annually sponsors research grants for students to write on their chosen topic in U.S. history. The Mitra Family Endowment, established in 2011, provides research grants for students writing on humanities subjects, including literature, art, music and the social sciences.
Like Duraiswamy, Howells attends Princeton University and found success with a paper that began as a project funded by a Mitra grant. Howells was the first Mitra scholar, and her paper, “Winston Churchill’s Efforts to Unify Britain from 1940-1941,” brought her first place in the 2012 inaugural Churchill Research Paper Competition sponsored by the University of Minnesota’s Churchill Center. “I was pretty surprised,” Howells said of winning the Churchill prize. “Since this was the first year of the competition, I was not sure what the expectations were.”
The Near and Mitra endowments have become symbols of the Harker community’s dedication to helping students pursue a broad array of interests. The endowments have funded 21 meticulously researched historical analyses to date.
Duraiswamy, when asked about his reaction to being published in The Con- cord Review, noted: “The experience of writing the Near paper was wonderful. I really enjoyed being able to pick a topic that interested me, explore it at a deep level and produce original work on
the subject. I learned so much not only about what I was researching but also about the process of writing a longer research paper, and that has left me well prepared for college. I am deeply grateful to Harker for giving me the opportunity to do such a project and to The Concord Review for recognizing the work I had done.”
Alumnus Makes Forbes’ Prestigious ‘30 Under 30’ List!
Andy Fang ’10, co- founder of the Palo Alto-based, on-demand food delivery startup DoorDash, was included on Forbes magazine’s prestigious “30 Under 30” list of young movers and shakers in the consumer tech category.
DoorDash (www.doordash.com) hires its own drivers to offer home delivery from restaurants unable to provide such service. In just two years, 22-year-old Fang, a Stanford graduate with a degree in computer science, and business partner Stanley Tang have raised an impressive $19.7 million in startup funding. DoorDash now serves five major metropolitan areas.
A leading source for reliable business news and financial information, Forbes is well known for its annual lists and rankings. The “30 Under 30” list (http://www.forbes.com/30under30/#/) prides itself on predicting the brightest and most ambitious young adults to watch in the coming year.
The 2015 categories include venture capital, enterprise technology, consumer technology, sports, social entrepreneurs, science, retail, music, media, marketing, manufacturing, law, entertainment, health care, games, food, finance, energy, education and art. More than 600 millennials were featured on the lists, with Silicon Valley at the forefront of startup culture.
Fang, a former Harker Quarterly cover boy (having been featured in a graduation photo in the summer 2010 edition), said he is honored to have been selected. “I’m grateful for my friends and family for helping me get to this point and glad to have the support of the Harker community!”
Last year three Harker alumni were included on the Forbes list. To read about them: https://news.harker.org/ harker-alumni-make-forbes-coveted- 30-under-30-lists-of-rising-young- stars/.
If readers know of other Harker alumni who made the Forbes list, please bring them to our attention by writing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Harker Holds Alumni & Family Reunion in Taipei, Taiwan
On March 7, 50 alumni families gathered for a Harker family reunion in Taipei, Taiwan! At the event, alumni, their spouses, parents, children and grandparents joined Harker administration members Joe Rosenthal, executive director of advancement (accompanied by his wife, Blanca), and Pam Dickinson, director of the Office of Communication and former weekend boarding program director (aka “housemama”) to reminisce about their time at Harker and hear about current school happenings.
The enjoyable evening included a special tribute to Harriet Skapinsky, who established Harker’s world-renowned English as a Second Language program. In addition, a Distinguished International Alumnus Award was presented to Laurence Kao ’89, former boarding student, international patent lawyer and law professor in Taiwan. The event also included a visit from a magician, who kept the kids enthralled.
Please join us in congratulating the following alumni:
On Feb. 9, Barrett James Kai-shi Hollier was born in a car on the freeway (I-10 in New Orleans) on the way to the hospital, delivered breech by his daddy, Brian Hollier! Mom Katie (Chou) Hollier ’95, daughter of Harker’s upper school history teacher Carol Zink, and baby are doing fine. “My other daughter, also a Harker alum, had her baby on Dec. 23 the more conventional way. Baby Margaret was born at the hospital in Monterey. Mom is Kristine (Chou) Hime ’98, a naval officer and student at the Naval Postgrauate School in Monterey,” said the proud grandmother.
Christina Aquila ’95 and her husband, Marc, welcomed their second daughter, Poppy Erin Aquila, on Dec. 10. “She joins big sister Violet at our home here in Vermont. Coincidentally, Poppy shares the same birthdate as Kate Stober’s [’95] son Alex, who was born Dec. 10 the year before,” shared Christina.
Sophi Scarnewman ’09 (formerly Newman) got married last March and is still riding the newlywed high! “My husband, Bobby, and I are especially excited about how we combined our last names: Newman (me) and Scarduzio (him) into a shared last name,” she said. Here, a group shot from her wedding features the happy couple with Harker friends. From L to R: Sharon Su ’08, Alix Briggs ’08, Ju-Hyun (Matt) Park ’10, Kendra Moss ’10, Bobby and Sophi, Lexi Ross ’09 and Joe Hospodor ’09.
Julia Gitis ’03 got married on June 8, 2014 at the Presidio in San Francisco. She met her husband, Max Lipschultz, in Boston while in graduate school at Harvard. “Both my maids of honor, seven out of my nine bridesmaids, one groomsman and many of our guests were Harker alumni!” she said. “One of my bridesmaids, Gabrielle DeMers ’03 was part of the Harker Conservatory and is now an opera singer. She sang during my wedding ceremony,” recalled Julia.