Alumni Lead by Example

Alumni pay it forward, supporting the School they remember so fondly.
Next month, as the Class of 2018 gathers to celebrate their achievements, their Commencement will mark not one but many fresh beginnings. They will soon apply the skills they have honed at St. Mark’s to new experiences. And, as freshly minted alumni, they will start to connect with St. Mark’s in different ways, as so many Marksmen have done before them.
 
As an institution, St. Mark’s draws on the strength and commitment of its community. For generations, alumni have demonstrated their leadership and support for the School and its mission in countless ways. They return to campus each year for Alumni Weekend to catch up with classmates and mentors and reflect on their defining years at St. Mark’s. They also give back through their commitments of time—speaking about their careers to students on campus, advising recent graduates, serving on the Board of Trustees and Alumni Board, hosting Reunions, and volunteering as St. Mark’s Fund Class Agents. And, the School ensures that the more than 5,400 alumni worldwide stay connected through regional gatherings and special events.
  
Alumni also generously support St. Mark’s financially. Alumni participation in the St. Mark’s Fund is four times the annual fund national average; last year over half of all Marksmen contributed $2.3 million to the St. Mark’s Fund total of more than $4 million. Not surprising, alumni have been tremendous supporters of the Science Center Project, which will give the faculty even more ways to enhance an already exceptional science curriculum.
 
“I am very happy to give back to the School that gave me so much,” said Craig Levering ’75. Like many alumni, he credits his alma mater with helping to shape the person he became. “St. Mark’s taught me to manage my time efficiently between school work, sports, and outside activities while always striving for excellence,” he said. “Those learned organizational skills and habits have served me well through college, my professional career, and even today.”
 
It’s a testament to the strength of the School, its mission, its faculty, and its culture that a fellow alumnus who graduated more than two decades later, Dan Hunt ’96, shares similar sentiment and appreciation.
“It’s easy to support St. Mark’s,” Dan said. “It made me the person I am today—so many of the teachers left an impression on me. Excellence is the standard at the School.”
    • Looking east toward campus from Preston Road

      Looking east toward campus from Preston Road

Among those influential teachers was Steve Seay ’68, who taught Dan geology and astronomy. Dan remembers biology, physics, and chemistry for different reasons: they were struggles that he has turned into motivators.

“When I know I'm in a difficult situation, I always buckle down and think back to my days at St. Mark’s and remember hard work does pay off,” Dan said. “There were difficult tasks that were put in front of you to challenge you, and it’s no different than running a business. They helped me develop the patience and perseverance to sit down, analyze my business, and then attack it from as many angles as possible.”
    • Marksmen of all ages visit Mr. Mead

      Marksmen of all ages visit Mr. Mead's biology class during Alumni Weekend.

Mason King ’94, meanwhile, said he appreciates “the way in which subjects were taught with a focus on using critical thought to build a better academic foundation.” That approach helped him enter the next stage of his education incredibly well prepared.
 
The School’s commitment to graduating great scholars and achievers left an imprint on George Spencer ’81 as well. “St. Mark’s drove us to compete and really pushed us in a way that I don’t think a lot of other schools do. We worked hard, and they gave us chances to succeed and chances to fail in the classroom, and it was reinforced by both sports and extracurricular activities,” said George, who represented the School in football, golf, and debate. As a venture capitalist who finances software companies, George knows firsthand about the need to develop scholars who can tackle engineering challenges, and he hopes the new Science Center will help the School continue to produce exceptional leaders in math and science.

Mason added he expects the new building “will complement the wonderful teaching resources that already exist and will continue to attract strong faculty in the future as well.”

The Science Center will also continue the St. Mark’s tradition of putting innovative technology in the hands of students. George remembers writing code in BASIC language on a mainframe computer in Middle School under the guidance of John Stutsman, who ran the pioneering computer department. “Technology has always been one of St. Mark’s real strengths, and it all builds on itself,” he said.
    • A senior in Information Engineering programs a microcontroller to control a rotating servo motor with a distance sensor attached to it.

      A senior in Information Engineering programs a microcontroller to control a rotating servo motor with a distance sensor attached to it.

All those years ago, the idea of Marksmen studying cutting-edge technologies like robotics and DNA science on campus could have seemed like science fiction, but that story will soon be a reality. It will be one that launches scientific explorations by current Marksmen and the future students they themselves will one day support through the enduring cycle of alumni leadership at St. Mark’s.
“The greatest thing about supporting the School is the satisfaction of knowing you are giving back to an institution that provided so much for you as a student,” Mason said. “I think every alum recognizes the only way that we were able to receive the education was through the support of prior generations of alumni. It now falls on our shoulders to be able to provide the same—or better—for future generations.”
Construction of the Science Center Project was made possible through the generosity of 58 donors, 27 of whom are alumni. Naming opportunities are still available as we look to endow these facilities and strengthen programming.

For further information on the Project, please contact the Office of Development and Alumni Relations.


List of 3 items.

  • 47%

    of gifts to the Science Center Project were made by alumni
  • 25

    alumni work at Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, or SpaceX
  • 7

    alumni have served as
    STEM Conference Panelists
    (since 2014)