Distinguished alumni speak to students


Courtesy of PDS

Michelle Leung, Editor-in-Chief

With this year marking the 50th anniversary of Princeton Day School, students and faculty were pleased to welcome the 2016 Alumni Award Recipients on May 13, the first day of Alumni Weekend. The Alumni Award Recipients this year are Sara Zoe Hart ‘96 for the Alumni Achievement Award, Roopa Purushothaman ‘96 for the John D. Wallace ‘48 Alumni Service Award, and John Maher ‘06 for the Outstanding Young Alumni Award.

Since leaving PDS, the three Alumni Award winners have made remarkable contributions to the world. Hart has broken down gender barriers as an accomplished professional mountain climber and guide. Currently living in Chamonix, France, she advocates strongly for the protection of the environment and the ecosystem.

Like Hart, Purushothaman has broken gender barriers in society, although through different means. While working as an economist, she has also aimed to provide educational and leadership opportunities for girls in India regardless of social class. She founded the Avasara Leadership Institute in 2011, and she opened a secondary school, Avasara Academy, in 2015. The school, which accepts exceptional seventh or eighth grade girls in India, presents a well-rounded curriculum as well as unique connections for higher education learning.

The youngest of the three, Maher has also made a positive impact on the world during his ten years after PDS. He is an architect for the MASS Design Group, which designs and constructs infrastructure in places all over the world for the benefit of the public. Currently, Maher is working on the design of a hospital in Rwanda as well as on health care projects in other areas of Africa.

While the three alumni have followed different career paths abroad since high school, they were all influenced by and grateful for their experiences at PDS. Hart attended PDS from the age of six and described a close connection with the school – her father, Michael Hart, taught Upper School English at PDS when she was young, and her mother, Chris Hart, has taught fourth grade for many years.

Maher described the positive influence of the teachers at PDS as the driving force which helped him succeed. Similarly, Purushothaman, who had graduated from the same class as Hart, stated that “It was the four years I was here in high school that I feel like I really grew in terms of thinking of what my impact was going to be on the world, and the main reason for that was because of the teachers we had.” She emphasized, “The teachers here inspired me to be more than what I thought I could be.”