The annual Alumni Career Fair took over Gym 2 during both blocks of 8th Period on Friday, April 10th. As in past years, more than two dozen alumni took the afternoon off to chat with curious students, giving them details about their current work, their career path, and how their interests have changed and grown since they left TJ; many discussed internship possibilities.
This year, alumni who could stay after school were invited to enjoy refreshments in the DaVinci Commons, courtesy of the Partnership Fund, and were treated to a tour of the new Research Lab Wing, led by Dr. Glazer.
Living proof of life after TJ, our alumni are a powerful inspiration to students. The breadth of careers and job descriptions represented suggest options students may not have considered and serve as a testament to the many doors that TJ can open.
Extra Credit: Find the two alums who are also TJ parents. Answer below.
Betsy Philpott, ’99, Legal Affairs Specialist, Washington Nationals, combined her law degree with a Master’s in Sports Industry Management, along the way working for a national law firm and interning at the Major League Soccer Players Union, the Washington Capitals, Octagon (sports marketing company), and USA Today. “As one of three attorneys for the team, I handle a wide variety of matters and complete deals for the team, the stadium, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, and the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy.”
Rahul Singh, ’00, President, Anant Corporation, which provides consulting on enterprise content, knowledge, and relationship management solutions revolving around portals, integration, and search. “At TJ, I learned how to program, play lacrosse, and transformed personally from being an introvert to an extrovert. I started my first Internet business as a sophomore.”
Deb Shih Carstoiu, ’92, Director of Communications for Plant Biotechnology, Crop Life International, the leading advocate for the plant science industry, has a decade of plant biotechnology communications experience. “I create outreach programs that support local and regional communications activities in nearly 50 countries and advise on international trade, regulatory, and intellectual property communications issues.”
Jennifer (Jef) Akst, ’01, Senior Editor, The Scientist, a magazine for life-science professionals, is comfortable writing about all life-science topics, but her specialties include evolution, animal behavior, sexual selection, game theory, and population genetics. “Four years into my PhD (in Biology) I realized I’d rather write about research than do it myself, so I left school with a Master’s to pursue a career in science writing.”
Luke Ward, ’00, Computational Biologist, 5AM Solutions, Inc., a software company that develops products and services to support the life sciences industry, has a PhD in Biology and was a postdoctoral associate for four years at MIT. “During grad school I switched from classic molecular biology to computational genomics, and in the past year I shifted from working in academia to industry.”
Melissa Hajj, ’95, Design Manager, Facebook worked on iBooks, iTunes, and Final Cut Studio at Apple and managed a design team at a Bay Area start-up before landing at Facebook. “I became a software products designer because I love solving problems at the intersection of people, aesthetics, and technology.”
Michael Martinka, ’87, Vice President, Ntrepid, joined the company when it acquired the start-up he founded. He is lead engineer/architect on the company’s latest product, Passages, a secure, virtualized browser that enables businesses to access the web safely without risk of infecting their machines or compromising their data or networks. “Designing and building computer systems that solve the most difficult problems facing our customers is a constant passion.”
Justin Valentine, ’97, Senior Consultant, World Bank, shifted his focus after TJ graduation from Biotechnology to International Relations. With a Bachelor’s Degree in International Negotiation & Conflict Resolution and International Business at Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, he has “spent the past fifteen years consulting for various private and public sector organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies to the US Government and the World Bank.”
Michelle Cohn, ’95, Examination Development Manager, National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), which works with state registration boards to develop the requirements for becoming a licensed architect, is a licensed architect herself. “I’m not sure I knew all that was entailed in becoming an architect, but I enjoyed both math and art classes, and sure enough, architecture involves both technical precision and creativity.”
Mo Kim, ’89, owner, Rinker Design Associates, a full-service civil engineering firm handling transportation, traffic, utilities, stormwater management, environmental, surveying, land planning, inspections, permitting, and more, brought three of his TJ-alum employees with him to the Fair: Erik Shively ’90, Carolyn Witzig, ’02, and Hoainam Nguyen, ’04. “I was privileged to have one of the earliest versions of AutoCAD in our tech lab. The resources available to TJ students at the time exceeded even the courses offered at many universities in the tech fields.”
Nathan Sherrard, ’01, Sales Engineer, Cisco Systems, took all the CS courses at TJ and double-majored in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, thinking he would be a programmer. “I ended up hearing about a great job with Cisco and IP networking and have been with them ever since in sales engineering, a blend of both the technical and business/sales worlds.”
Susan Danewitz, ’92, Information Management Specialist, US Department of State, worked as a contractor before joining the Foreign Service, where she has served tours in Yemen, Austria, and Saudi Arabia. “I majored in English, but minored in Math and Computer Science for the fun of it. Once I had done that, IT drew me in, starting as a Linux SysAdmin/Webmaster.”
Nolan Pollock, ’09, Associate Consultant, Bain & Company, a management consulting firm, graduated in 2013 with degrees in Chemistry and Physics but joined Bain because of a desire to understand business. He’s also always been interested in making things. “I still value design and hope to follow that passion by externing at a start-up soon.”
Tammy Bjelland, ’00, Owner/Director, Shenandoah Valley Language Services, LLC, a global language school based in Winchester, Va, taught Spanish and English at various institutions of higher education in the US and Spain, including UVA and Middlebury, before founding her own language school. “We not only provide language and cultural instruction in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, and Japanese, but also provide translation, editing, and consulting services for language education and corporate clients.”
Vivek Puri, ’92, President, Classic Homes, a Northern Virginia home builder that specializes in building new homes on owner’s lots, has always been interested in the practical applications of engineering (he has a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Electrical Engineering, a Master’s in Public Administration and an MBA). “We are proponents of technology and have created custom software to achieve an edge over our competition. We are on the lookout for strong programming talent as well as students skilled in website development, social media and surveys, graphic design, photography, and CAD.”
Samuel Leven, ’03, Associate Attorney, The Baldwin Law Firm, LLC, a three-attorney firm specializing in family law, landlord/tenant law, contract, civil, and appellate litigation, was interested in math and computers while at TJ, but his true passion was the humanities. “I loved (and still love) politics and was involved in multiple political 8th-period activities, as well as Model UN, which played a huge role in my TJ career. Model UN at TJ is what taught me public speaking, and I don’t think I would be half the lawyer I am today without that experience.”
Christopher Spiller, ’98, President, Bizy, a software products company, came from Rosetta Stone, where he led their Product Team. “Prior to Rosetta Stone, I worked for a variety of technology and education-related companies, where I did everything from writing code to helping track landmine removal operations to developing interactive multimedia exercises to bring math and science textbooks into the digital age.”
Lauren Wagner, ’00, 4th-grade teacher, Louise Archer ES, FCPS, has taught 4th-grade AAP for eight years. “I love giving back to the school system I grew up in and can’t wait to tell current TJ students how excited I am about being in the field of education. I can attribute many of my positive characteristics as a teacher to my experience at TJ. Teaching elementary students requires creativity, perseverance, hard work, and problem solving.”
Dan Coffing, ’88, Co-Founder and President, Syntegrity, a company that develops and implements unified solutions for identity, data, and applications security, is a lifelong technology innovator and serial entrepreneur. “Leading the company since its inception in 1996, I have optimized its business operations and organizational development as it has scaled into one of the industry’s leaders in enterprise security.”
Derek Sugimura, ’97, Of Counsel, Weisbrod, Matteis, and Copley, PLLC, a plaintiff’s-side law firm specializing in commercial and financial misconduct litigation, has been practicing law for a decade. “I played football and sang choir for four years at TJ. I went on to get a degree in Political Science because I knew I was going to law school.”
Erica Hughes, ’98, PhD Archaeology, is currently looking for a university appointment, after having worked in Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Cyprus, Egypt, and England. “I moved to Turkey and . . . fell in love with ancient cultures. Fluent in Turkish, I applied for a Master’s . . . and started working as an epigrapher at classical sites in Anatolia. After a few weeks of nothing with writing having been dug up, I asked for a trowel. I really dug it.”
Erin Shannahan, ’05, Box Office Manager, Signature Theatre, a non-profit, professional theater company, obtained a Master’s in Arts Management. “A member of Shakespeare Troupe at TJ, I continued to act in multiple student theater groups in college.” (at right)
Elizabeth Zagraniski, ’04, Graduate Student, GMU, has worked for non-profit theaters and is getting her Master’s in Arts Management. “I participated in Drama Club, Shakespeare Troupe, and Thespians at TJ. My final summer of high school I interned at WAMU.” (at left)
Kevin Gormley, ’95, Lead Engineer, MITRE Corporation, a non-profit that conducts federally funded research in such areas as intelligence, aviation, civil systems, homeland security, the judiciary, health care and cybersecurity, conducts healthcare analytics for the company’s Center for Transforming Health. “I have over fifteen years of experience in data mining, systems engineering, modeling and simulation, and economic analysis. I’m also Co-Chair of TJ’s Alumni Association, now joined with the Partnership Fund.”
The following College & Career Center volunteers assisted Specialist Eileen Kropf with the 2015 Alumni Career Fair:
Luhong Bo; Jennifer Brower; Clarissa Decanay; Garima Jain; Yun Su Son Jeon; Ellen Jung; Daisy Kang; Manju Khannna; Mathavi Khantamneni; Stephanie Khong; Choonhee Kim; Youngjoo Kim; Eun Kyeong Lee; Enit Lulushi; Barb Males; Linh Nham; Kelly Poort; Cara Schefer; Radha Shivakumar; Sally Stumvoll; Daqi Wang; Fan Yang
Extra Credit answer: Michael Martinka is the parent of a sophomore, and Deb Carstoiu is the parent of an incoming freshman.