Our team

Experts, Allies, and Partners.

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Our Team

It’s no stretch to say that, as a Mastery School student, you will work with extraordinary teachers and mentors who bring expertise, passion, and a desire to engage with you.

They also bring a commitment to redesigning school so that it’s more human and more humane; so that it’s built with your future in mind; so that it helps you identify, nurture, and own your talents and capacity for growth.

Seventeen years ago, I came to Hawken to help start the Humanities program. At Hawken, I’ve had the chance to build and develop programs including Humanities and intensives, to grow as a teacher and school leader, and to become wildly excited about a way to do school differently. Inspired by my work with Doris Korda, I believe with every fiber of my being that school should be about discovering your strengths, channeling your intrinsic motivation, and finding joy. My family’s roots run deep in the sleepaway camp world of New England, where I learned to love kayaking, swimming, campfires, putting on plays, and building meaningful community. I love yoga, any kind of tea, theatre, spending time with friends and family, cooking, and podcasts. I live in Cleveland Heights with my husband (a Hawken alum), two children, and a cat who likes to play fetch.

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Julia holds an undergraduate degree from Harvard University in Government with a focus on political theory and masters in Literature from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English.

My approach to the classroom and student life engages young people as citizens who reflect upon the worlds they occupy, even as they consider how to build the world they desire. In our work together, we discover that this self-reflective work requires courage, imagination, and safety. I love walking alongside young people as they explore their truths, distill their own ideas about the legacy they want to create, take risks, make mistakes, and grow to be the truest versions of themselves within a caring community. I joined Hawken after nine years in government, politics and nonprofit advocacy, and enjoy the ability to draw upon this experience as we think about what it means to create a healthy culture as Dean of Students for the Mastery School. I am the adoring partner of a courageous historian, bonus dad of a STEM-loving second-grader, brother of two great siblings, son of caring parents, and Boston (MA)’s own.

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Ambrose earned a BA and MA in English Literature and Language from the University of Virginia, and an MA in Theological Studies from Boston College. 

Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All” convinced me at a very young age that agency, passion, relationship, curiosity, authenticity, and self-knowledge are essential to deep and effective learning. Ten years working with students as a teacher, advisor, house director, coach, and in leadership roles has only added depth to that belief. I value creating equitable and inclusive spaces in schools, whatever that means at whatever moment. I admire writers like Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston, whose authenticity revolutionized how people see our world by illuminating difficult truths and changing the writing landscape. I want to do that in education. As a type 1 Enneagram, Myers-Briggs INTJ, and Architect brain type, my favorite things are working to improve education for us all, golfing with my partner, trying to understand my cat’s motivations, spending time with my family, board games, drinking tea, and learning…anything? I think of my brain as a sort of jukebox and am constantly adding to my collection. My most recent learning adventure has been teaching myself to play funky bass guitar. I love bass’ subtle, steady significance in some songs and game-changing movement in others. I think that is also what I love about people—our range of subtle significance and capacity to change the game.

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Janae earned a BA in English Literature from Kenyon College and a Masters in Clinical Social Work (MSW) from the Smith College School for Social Work.

I am an earnest and passionate extrovert who treasures building and maintaining meaningful relationships with students, parents, and friends alike. In my various professional and personal roles, I’ve come to cherish being surrounded by children and those who care for them, supporting families in the intricate orchestration of their daily lives. With a fondness for logic puzzles and problem-solving, I look forward to relying on my gumption and prowess to round out the founding team of the Mastery School of Hawken. At home, I am known for my cooking and caretaking, and I have a hard time turning down the opportunity to host. On Sundays, you’ll find me with my partner, Phelan, completing NYTimes word puzzles while enjoying dim sum.

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Mindy graduated with a BA from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, studying Psychology, Sociology, Music, and Entrepreneurship.

Helping young people flourish by discovering their strengths and passions is what brings me the most joy. Through building genuine connections and getting to know what truly matters, I strive to help students navigate their educational (and life) journey. After calling Colorado home for 20 years, I joined the Mastery School of Hawken as the Director of College Counseling. The idea of surrounding myself with like-minded individuals who believe in doing school differently, challenging our own ways of thinking, and supporting one another to follow our passions, energizes me. Finding joy in life is what matters. When I’m not volunteering for a Labrador Retriever rescue based out of Colorado, I can be found reading historical fiction, doing a home renovation project, or exploring my new hometown. I live in Avon Lake with my husband, a native of NE Ohio, our two feisty daughters, and two snuggly dogs.

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Kate has a BA in psychology from Susquehanna University, a MSW from University of Denver and is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) in the state of Colorado. She is also a NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) graduate after spending 94 days in the backcountry of the Rocky Mountains.

“We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.”  This is a direct quote from Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune’s Last Will and Testament to the university she founded, which started out as a small school with five little girls and funded with $1.50 and a seed of faith.  I had the opportunity to attend and graduate from that institution, Bethune-Cookman University, exactly 100 years after its founding, and it’s a big part of why I am so excited to serve as the Director of Partnerships and External Programs for the Mastery School of Hawken.  It is my belief that the work we are doing at the Mastery School will create amazing opportunities for students 100 years from now!

My journey at Hawken began three years ago as Director of Admission for the Mastery School, after 14 years of diverse experience in STEM, sales, marketing, higher education, and diversity and inclusion work.  My commitment as an education advocate is to create opportunities for partnerships and engagement by fostering connections between our students and amazing organizations in Greater Cleveland and beyond.

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Rasa earned a B.S. in Biology with a Minor in Chemistry from Bethune-Cookman University and a Masters in Higher Education from Penn State University.


My training in studio art taught me the importance of iteration, feedback, and problem solving. I was able to apply these concepts throughout my seven years as a legal assistant at a local law firm and I am thrilled to put them into practice as Administrative Associate at the Mastery School. I love supporting people, building meaningful connections, and learning about the stories that inform our worldviews. When I’m not catching up on reading for one of my book clubs, I may be found exploring the outdoors and also pursuing creative projects (ask me about my Quikrete installation!). I am a devoted daughter, sister to an adventurous brother, partner to a dedicated communications director, and ardent analog photographer. 

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Mary earned a BA in Studio Art from Kenyon College.

Students learn best when they have room to grow, create, and collaborate.  The most exciting part of my role as the Assistant Director of Admission is building relationships with students and families as they discern the next steps in their educational path.  I love learning about people, sharing conversations about their passions and wonders, and making connections.  Our goal as educators should be to cultivate curiosity and creativity in students. Prior to joining the Mastery School, I became part of the Hawken community in 2015 as the Lower School Performing Arts teacher and saw the spark of curiosity in young learners.  Outside of school, you can find me spending time with my family, making music, and sailing.

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Sarah holds a BME in Music Education from Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music and a MME in Music Education from Kent State University.

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As a coach, mastery learning spoke directly to me.  On a team, we have common goals, but we also approach teaching the individual players in physical, technical, tactical and mental aspects of the game in different ways and timeframes.  As the Mastery School continues to expand our offerings, we are prioritizing taking the time to hear what our students are interested in. What sports they want to play, experiences they want to build and healthy lifestyles they seek to live. We are working with our University Circle partner organizations to utilize the outstanding facilities that surround our campus to build a program that not only serve but excite our students for years to come. I’m thrilled  to create meaningful relationships with our mastery student-athletes, craft new sport & fitness offerings and support all of our mastery students in their individual paths to wellness. 

Coach Dan is the program director of the Boys Lacrosse program, Varsity lacrosse head coach and resides on the Hawken Gates Mills Campus with his wife of 4 years, Jelena and his 2 year old son, Luka.  He is an avid movie enthusiast, loves to cook and runs his North East Ohio Lacrosse company (NEOLAX) in his down time.

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Dan earned his BA in Speech and Theater from St. Lawrence University, while playing and captaining the men’s lacrosse team.  He received a MS in Interscholastic Athletic Administration from Ohio University.

I am an academic at heart, a former newspaper reporter who once lived community service on the streets of New York and then found my way to a graduate program in comparative religion that, unexpectedly, led me to my 30+ year career in nonprofit fundraising.  I celebrate diversity and focus my professional and personal life on activities that foster equity.  I came to the Mastery School as an admirer of its model of learning by doing, in teams, with educators who guide discovery. I am in awe of the vision, the people who lead it, and most of all the Mastery School students who practice it.

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Learning is not a solo activity. I believe the community we make in the process and the practice of learning is essential to our growth as individuals and participants in our society. I love to cultivate collaborative learning environments that work at the edge of thought and practice while investigating self-expression and communal development. Working with young people as they develop the critical thinking, communication, expressive, and self-reflective skills they will need in this evolving world is a thrilling process. My experiences as a student and educator have spanned the performing arts, humanities, cultural studies, and the natural sciences. Through my work as a dancer and choreographer, I have come to view the classroom as a studio; a rich site for passion, curiosity, and experimentation. Outside of the classroom, I often find myself on long walks, catching up with family and friends near and far, trying to understand the latest TikTok trends, or spending time with my partner.

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Ailey earned a BA in Molecular Biology and Dance from Hampshire College, an MFA in Dance & Choreography, and a MA in American Studies from the University of Iowa.

I believe that our character is a culmination of our experiences and how we’ve made sense of them, and I see my role as an educator to bring critical and creative thinking to this meaning-making, best-self-finding process. I’m passionate about cultivating meaningful experiences and living wholeheartedly, which might look like pausing to appreciate the sunset in the midst of an evening run or persevering alongside my students as we examine preconceived notions of what we–and our community–are capable of, what’s holding us back, and how we chart a course forward. I joined MSH twelve years into my journey as an educator, a journey that has taken me to expeditionary learning, the humanities classroom, and school leadership. As a member of the founding faculty, I continue my path of learning alongside students and embrace the challenging, silly, and beautiful moments all the same. I am a devoted family member, proud midwesterner, partner to a fellow educator, and an adventurer at heart.    

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Ashley earned BAs in Professional Writing and Anthropology from Michigan State University, an MA  in Education from Alliant International University, and is currently enrolled in a doctoral program in Education Leadership and Policy at Vanderbilt University.

I’ve forever resisted student requests for a single way to “solve all problems like (fill in the blank).” Mathematics and reality don’t succumb to easily memorized tidbits, and the myriad of learning styles and interests clearly resist clean categorization. Some learners require lots of encouragement and cheerleading; others are simply looking for another cool idea before they run off again to explore on their own. Regardless of confidence and perceived ability, every person can thrive when clear, unwavering, and high expectations are set within an unwavering support network that fosters growth, allows room to fail, and non-judgmentally provides support to try again.

When the “expert” in the room stops pronouncing, others are forced to fill the void. The diversity of thought provided by learners on the edge of discovery overflows the gap. Alternative methods allow every person to find approaches that sync with their way of thinking and encourages those who quickly grasp solutions to acquire alternative techniques. After all, the greatest thinkers are not those who know the most “stuff”—they are the ones who see dynamic connections from previously encountered ideas to novel situations. We are always learning and always growing. It is my conscious decision to hold myself forever on the edge of eager discovery, striving to inspire others to find their own ways to be hungry, compassionate, and enlightened leaders for today and tomorrow.

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Chris earned Bachelors degrees from Emory University in philosophy and pure mathematics, an MS in Math Education from Syracuse University, and his EdD in Educational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University.

I live and teach using the scientific method: make observations, generate questions, test hypotheses and draw informed conclusions – then repeat the process. In today’s technology-centered world, facts are at everyone’s fingertips. As a science educator, it’s my goal to get students involved with the process of discovery and to encourage keeping up with cutting edge research. I believe that the habit of critical thinking is an important and versatile resource for any challenge that one may face, in science or otherwise. I also believe that research works best in collaborative settings, where ideas can be freely exchanged in a culture of trust and respect. I come to the Mastery School with over 15 years of experience in environmental research in many sectors of the field, including academia, non-profit institutes and private industry. I enjoy passionate conversations and sharing ideas with others, and I feel my best when I can be helpful. Outside of the classroom I spend my time cooking, reading love stories, marveling at pond life under the microscope, and raising three spirited children.

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Claudia earned a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Hampshire College and an M.S. in Environmental Science and Engineering from Oregon Health and Science University. She is currently enrolled in a doctoral program in Regulatory Biology at Cleveland State University.

I believe that teaching well is all about having actual relationships with students, where we, as teachers, figure out what the students’ starting points are and then we take them somewhere new.  In particular, I love teaching about storytelling, whether it’s reading literature together, interviewing strangers, writing original stories, or analyzing a period of history.  I’ve been at Hawken for eight years now, and before that I taught in New York City and Boston schools – this Fall will be the beginning of my eighteenth year of teaching.  I’ve learned a bit about how to build classroom communities where students feel safe to share their thoughts, and I put a lot of time into that, because it’s important that students feel they can be open and honest at school.  When I was in high school, I developed so much of my sense of humor, my sense of self, and my friendships (I still talk to two of my best friends from high school every week!) so I know that it’s important for us to make this into a place where students can really grow.

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Dan earned a BA in English from the College of Wooster, and an MA in the Teaching of English from Columbia University, Teachers College.

Education is inherently a process of experimentation, trial and error, cause and effect. Human beings are natural scientists, we sense patterns, answer questions, and build understanding of ourselves and the world around us as reflexively as breathing. Regardless of the subject, my work with students has always been focused on supporting these inherent processes to develop independence, critical thinking, and passionate problem solving in the classroom. I love watching my students take control of their education and accomplish things together through community, collaboration, and joyful exploration. I have worked in mental health, camp management, and most recently education for the past 8 years and have taught every age from kindergarten through college. This wide variety of experiences in youth work have allowed me to focus on my students as fully formed people with a broad range of needs, interests, and skills and I’m so excited to take my work to the Mastery School as a Founding Faculty member. When I’m not teaching I love going for walks around Ohio City with my partner, writing short stories, watching films, and learning about obscure topics.

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Derick has a B.A. from Hampshire College and a M.S. in Human Physiology from the University of Iowa. He spent two years working on a PhD before taking a job at a boarding school in Eastern Virginia

I admire the iconoclasts of the world and believe that the most amazing things come when we marshall our unique abilities to create something new out of the familiar.  My greatest memories have come from serendipitous opportunities and my best academic experiences have come from beyond the classroom.  My near-20 year technical career has given me a foundation that includes MRI/NMR research, computer games, software engineering, systems architecture, and information security. The only thing I love more than the tech is forming bonds with eager young minds and I hope to encourage them to embrace modern technologies, to tinker around with it, and to build something that is their own.  In my spare time, I may be found watching a K-Drama or Korean movie, playing games on either console or PC, studying LV Raiders football, buying stickers or stationery, listening to podcasts, and possibly taking a ballet class or two.

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Ed attended Carnegie-Mellon University for 2 years before transferring home to University of New Mexico where he received his BS in Pure Mathematics with a minor in Literature.

I believe that we are a society of storytellers. As a teacher, my goal is to support students as they plot out their adventures ahead. My own journey has given me the opportunity to work in schools, museums, nonprofits, industry, and across administrations in the federal government. At each step of that journey, I have tried to be an advocate for students who need to have their stories heard. Sometimes that advocacy is through policy, sometimes through games or fiction, sometimes through technology or museum exhibits. Whatever the medium, I believe that stories have the power to change the world.

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Grace earned two BS degrees in Computer Science related fields at DePaul University, studied Computer Science and artificial intelligence at Oakland University, earned a Juris Doctor with a focus on education policy and agency law at Washington & Lee University School of Law, and is a licensed attorney.

My background in engineering taught me that there is rarely a “right answer” and that good decision making is all about the questions we ask and the assumptions we make.  I love exploring how the world works and the ways in which we can combine math, science, and humanities to deepen our understanding of it.  As a teacher, I’m passionate about pushing students out of their comfort zones and into spaces where they learn to embrace failure and iteration, learn from one another, and deepen their critical thinking skills.  I joined the Hawken community in 2015 after working in the aerospace engineering industry and then as a teacher in Chicago and Northwest Indiana, and I am incredibly excited to be a founding faculty member at the Mastery School.  Outside of school, you’re most likely to find me and my husband hiking the Metroparks with our daughter and dog in tow, enjoying the local food and music scene, or planning our next big adventure.

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Julia holds a BS in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Notre Dame and a MA in Teaching with a focus on Math and Science Education from Dominican University.

Because architecture is the intersection of art and science, I believe it offers students a unique multidisciplinary lens to view, process, and understand the world around them. By understanding the design process as a problem-solving tool, I hope students are able to notice that they have agency in the world, are curious enough to question it, and feel empowered to redesign it. I am interested in understanding, experiencing, and creating spaces that reflect people’s diverse experiences and innovatively look to the future. I am a licensed architect and worked in an architecture firm for 8 years designing cultural and performing arts spaces. My career took a slight pivot to education as I became interested in how architecture and design could shape not only future architects and designers but future citizens and occupiers of space. A life long Clevelander, my husband and I live in the home we renovated in Ohio City and we enjoy walking to our great lake with our two young sons. 

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Katie earned a BA in Mathematics from the University of Virginia, a BS in Architecture from Kent State University, and a Masters of Architecture from the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative at Kent State University.

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I believe that people are each uniquely connected to others around them, to the natural world, to their experiences, and to the composite feedback from all of that. The more our connections encourage the trying of things, supported with judgment-free guidance and quiet reflection, the better we know ourselves and delight in our endeavors. It is enthralling to witness young people as they explore their curiosities and the nature of their belonging, increasingly trusting their strengths and those of their peers, and to collectively take interest and take action to improve the world around them. I joined Hawken following a career launching and growing a handful of start-up ventures, and leading IT organizations and software development in manufacturing, healthcare, and financial services industries. Teaching Entrepreneurship, I draw from my experience in business as we together engage and grow toward being motivated, confident, contributing citizens. When not at The Mastery School, I will be hiking nearby trails, reading, watching films, or toiling outside in the landscape. I live in Moreland Hills with my spouse Cathy, a Hawken alum, and our two cats. Our wonderful millennial son and daughter are both flourishing Hawken alums.

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Kevin has a BS in Business from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and a MBA from Cleveland State University.

Making connections with others and building relationships are what bring me the greatest joy in life and what has brought me back to teaching again and again. I truly believe that we become our best selves only by taking the time to understand the world from another’s point of view and this is exactly what I try to do together with students in our language and culture classroom. I joined the Mastery School Design Team after working in K-16 language education in Colombia, France, and the United States, excited by the opportunity to rethink the goals and methods of high school world language education and explore a transdisciplinary model of learning and teaching. I am a lover of good food and good company and try to bring the two together in international locales as much as possible. I live in Shaker Heights with my partner and our adorably lazy greyhound and am proud to be the fourth generation in my family to call Northeast Ohio home. 

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Nick earned a BA in History from Northwestern University and Masters degrees in both Spanish and French from Middlebury College. He completed two years of PhD coursework in Second Language Acquisition at Carnegie Mellon University before deciding to opt out of academia and join the Mastery School Design Team.

“Education is an act of love, and thus an act of courage.”

“Whoever teaches learns in the act of teaching, and whoever learns teaches in the act of learning.”   

After many years working with students, these quotes from Paulo Freire resonate most with my beliefs about education and speak to the reason I chose to become a teacher.  Helping students as they overcome obstacles, build grit and self-confidence, and ultimately achieve mastery through hard work is my vocation.  After sixteen years of teaching high school in the NYC Department of Education and six years serving as an adjunct lecturer at the City University of New York, I am excited to join the Mastery School of Hawken and to be a member of the design team and founding faculty.  As a parent myself, I know the profound impact a positive learning experience can have on a child, and I believe that each student brings a unique and special contribution to class.  I am a lucky husband of an amazing physics teacher, father of three little blessings, son of courageous and loving parents, brother to an artistic sibling, proud Latino, and musician at heart.

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Pedro earned a BS from NYU-Tandon School of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering, a MS in Education and Mathematics from PACE University.  Pedro holds multiple licenses and certificates in STEM education and TESOL.

I join the Mastery School after 13 years of teaching in both public and private schools and 3 years as a freelance illustrator and animator. In my work in the classroom, I find it essential for students to discover what they love and to identify their strengths. It’s my goal to help students find what it means to work as a member of a team to confront and tackle creative challenges. Creating room for students to grow, reflect and question their work, and make connections with themselves and the wider world is what continues to inspire me to work in education. I love discovering new ways to create and share visual media and to understand how others experience the world. Outside of the classroom, you can find me drawing, playing basketball, or enjoying a hike with my partner and two kids. 

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Tom holds a BFA from the University of the Arts in Film/Digital Video and an Art Education Teaching Certificate from Moore College of Arts & Design

Over the years, I have become convinced that education, marked by self-awareness, authenticity, and diversity, is fundamental to a wholistic journey toward understanding.  When we bring the truest form of ourselves into our relationships, new and exciting possibilities and intersectionalities begin to emerge.  The most exciting part of my role, here at The Mastery School, is being able to journey with students as surprising conversations arise, and technical support issues need solving. Helping students work through tech issues, as I see it, is an act of empowerment and support for both their journey toward self-awareness and their path toward being a lifelong learner. Through the unconditional support of my beautiful wife, and three children, who are unable to contain the vast sea of potentiality that lies within, I am inspired and energized to do hard work.

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Bryan holds a Masters of Divinity (MDiv)  from Ashland Theological Seminary, and a BA from Malone University.

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.” This quote by the iconic Muhammad Ali aligns with my interests to support students overcome the “mountains” they face by working through the “pebbles” within their sphere of influence. As the school counselor and a licensed social worker, I value service, integrity, and relationships. As a person, relationships and supporting the growth of others matter most to me.

Ivan earned his Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology from Morehouse College and a Master of Social Administration/Master of Social Work from Case Western Reserve University.

I’ve always looked up to and I walk the same values Sam Walton established with his company. Respect for the individual, customer service and strive for excellence. These values are universal. Exceptional customer service extends to anyone I come in contact with; students, faculty, supervisors, parents, family, community members, just to name a few.

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Take a deeper dive

We asked a few questions to get to know these folks a bit better…

Have you ever written a thesis or dissertation?
  • Yes: 68.4%
  • No: 31.6%
Do you play a musical instrument:
  • Yes: 73.7%
  • No: 26.3%
Favorite Season:
  • Winter: 10.5%
  • Spring: 15.8%
  • Summer: 31.6%
  • Fall: 42.1%
How many cats do you have?
  • 0 cats: 52.6%
  • 1 cats: 26.3%
  • 2 cats: 15.8%
  • 3 cats: 5.3%
How many dogs do you have?
  • 0 dogs: 47.4%
  • 1 dog: 52.6%
How many cups of coffee do you drink a day?
  • 0 cups: 15.8%
  • 1 cup: 31.6%
  • 2 cups: 31.6%
  • 3 cups: 10.5%
  • 4 cups: 5.3%
  • 5 cups: 5.3%
How many cups of tea do you drink a day?
  • 0 cups: 57.9%
  • 1 cup: 21.0%
  • 2 cups: 10.5%
  • 3 cups: 5.3%
  • 4 cups: 5.3%
iPhone or Android?
  • iPhone: 79.0%
  • Android: 15.8%
  • Other: 5.2%
Have you ever had a job as a waiter or waitress?
  • Yes: 36.8%
  • No: 63.2%
Which Harry Potter House are you?
  • Gryffindor: 10.5%
  • Hufflepuff: 15.8%
  • Ravenclaw: 26.3%
  • Slytherin: 10.5%
  • Muggle: 36.8%