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Marymount of Santa Barbara Puts Students on Path to Lifetime of Success

Graduates leave the school well-prepared for higher education and other pursuits

Where do we go from here? The answer to this question is a diverse one for Marymount of Santa Barbara graduates.

Marymount sends its students to boarding schools on the East Coast, such as Exeter, Deerfield and St. Paul’s, and to top-ranked West Coast boarding schools such as Cate, Thacher and Stevenson. Some students choose to go to local public schools and have demonstrated high enrollment in GATE and honors programs as well as in the academies at these schools — Santa Barbara High’s MAD Academy and Dos Pueblos’ Engineering Academy among them. Now, San Marcos’ Apple Academy is garnering interest from Marymount. Other students choose local private day high schools.

The choices Marymount graduates make are as diverse as the students themselves. What Marymount graduates do have in common is the fact that they leave Marymount well prepared for the next step.

Examples are everywhere Marymount students go. Recently, Marymount alumnus Nick Mon, a current National Merit semifinalist, was named saludatorian of his class at Bishop Diego. Fellow Marymount graduate Matthew Grimes was named valedictorian. Grimes was also recently accepted early at Penn’s Wharton School of Business and was named the National Youth Humanitarian of the Year for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

In 2010, Kelsey Stimson was Bishop’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year for maintaining a 4.5 grade point average while playing a very good game of basketball. She was accepted early to Dartmouth College and was co-valedictorian of her class.

Grady Snyder went to Exeter after graduating from Marymount where he graduated at the top of his class. From Exeter he went on to MIT and then earned an MBA at Dartmouth. His sister, Kendall Snyder, also went to Exeter, then Claremont McKenna College, where she competed in NCAA for water polo before earning All-American in water polo. She is now in medical school at George Washington University.

“The faculty at Marymount instilled in my children a passion for learning — the foundation for success in life,” alumni parent and trustee Becky Snyder said.

Brothers Brian and Jonathan Dunlap both went to Stanford University and continue a tradition of giving back that they learned while young and at Marymount. Brian Dunlap works in the field of social entrepreneurship and is co-chair of social investment at Echoing Green. Jonathan Dunlap, a Fulbright Scholar, is at Stanford Medical School.

On Echoing Green’s website, Brian Dunlap says this about his grandmother’s favorite expression, “Siempre adelante” (“always forward”): “Whenever I came home discouraged, was about to take a test or play a game in sports, or was about to leave for an extended period of time … to me it means to always be trying to improve yourself and others, and always be learning, especially from your mistakes.”

Marymount alumna Annie Maxwell, who was honored at Marymount earlier this year, graduated from Marymount in 1993 and went on to Santa Barbara High, where she excelled as both an athlete and a scholar. She attended the University of Michigan on a full athletic scholarship and was captain of the university’s Division I volleyball team. She received her master’s in public policy and a bachelor’s degree in English and political science, Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude.

Maxwell then served as chair of the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy and was a member of the founding Board of Directors for the nonprofit Wizzy Digital.

In 2007, Maxwell was one of 57 Americans selected for the Marshall Memorial Fellowship, a program designed to educate the next generation of American and European leaders. In 2009, she was appointed by President Barack Obama as one of 15 members of the 2009-10 White House fellows.

“Marymount made me think I could do anything,” she told gathered Marymount families when visiting Marymount this fall.

After graduating cum laude from UCLA and Georgetown Law, Katherine Marquart was hired by Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher in Los Angeles. Last year, Marquart was named Volunteer of the Year by Public Counsel’s Children’s Rights Project for helping to reinstate health and education services to more than 2,000 children with autism in the Los Angeles area.

“I still treasure my time at Marymount. It’s a truly special place to have spent some time growing up,” Marquart said. “The teachers at Marymount all inspire each student to be the best that they can be, and nurture each student’s special talents and gifts. I think that Marymount also does a fantastic job of instilling in children at a young age a real sense of community, and in doing so, also instills a sense of responsibility to that community. That is a lesson I have tried to hold on to as I have moved on past Marymount and into the larger community.”

When Andrew Wooden — head of school at Marymount, former head of admissions at Choate Rosemary Hall, head of the Bosque School and a graduate of Yale Divinity — was asked why Marymount students consistently go on to do so well, he replied, “Marymount’s academics are second to none, but the real secret to Marymount graduates’ success is the character, values and sense-of-self that is instilled while they are at Marymount. Marymount’s unique programs wire students to do well in the future. Students graduate with high ideals. They have a sense of purpose and drive. They know how to work alone and as a responsible, contributing part of a team. These are the things that build leaders, responsible citizens and also give people the courage to follow their dreams.”

How does Marymount produce such outcomes? Missy Capone, whose son came to Marymount in the sixth grade and graduated in 2011, thinks that the focus and individualized attention her son received while at Marymount made the difference.

“There is an expression that states, ‘When you take a child by the hand, you take the mother by the heart.’ Nothing could epitomize the experience my son and I had during our three years at Marymount more accurately,” Capone said. “The team of teachers, faculty and staff truly cared about P.J.‘s success, and from the moment we began the admissions process until the day of his eighth-grade graduation, we were supported and encouraged in a way I had never known prior and, most likely, might not feel again! Marymount represents three years that will hold a very special place in my heart, and three years that marked profound change in my son’s education.”

Marymount has sent students off to the very best schools in the country, but this fact is not what Marymount counts as its biggest accomplishment.

“What is more of an accomplishment to Marymount faculty and administration is the fact that Marymount students leave Marymount ready for the challenges they will encounter,” said Lyn Shirvanian, Middle School head. “I have been told on countless occasions that Marymount kids excel in both private and public schools. They are accepted and thrive in GATE, honors and AP classes and have a positive, ‘can-do’ approach to their futures. It is gratifying for me as an educator to hear so many successful graduates and colleagues credit Marymount for giving them their start and foundation.”

— Molly Seguel is director of admissions for Marymount of Santa Barbara.

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