Hackley Alumni Return to Hilltop to Share Experiences With Students

The past several weeks, we have had the privilege of hosting Hackley alumni who have returned to the Hilltop to share their work and experiences with our students. Many even traced their careers back to their time in a Hackley classroom!

Ben Aybar ’21 stopped by Glenn Hasslinger and Tessa Johnson’s America’s National Parks class on Nov. 21 to share his experience as an intern for the Pullman National Historical Park, located just outside Chicago, Illinois. He shared that PNHP is a new park and is very different from what most people think about when they think about National Parks, such as Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon. Mr. Aybar explained that PNHP is much smaller in size, near an urban city center and was designated a National Park due to its significant historic origins in the Pullman Car Company, which manufactured railroad cars from the late 19th to early 20th century.

Notably, this was also the setting of the violent Pullman strike in 1894 and the reason for us celebrating Labor Day in the United States. PNHP is a great place to learn about workers rights, civil rights and the history of African American labor in the north. Pullman National Historical Park was created by President Obama in 2015 and encompasses the Administration Buildings and Pullman Factory, as well as Hotel Florence. 
Mr. Aybar spoke about his time working there as an intern, where he was primarily focused on community outreach to get the word out about the historic site. He also worked at a summer camp with kids who lived in the area to teach them about the park, gave tours and learned a lot about the National Parks system as a result. He spoke with tremendous pride about this little-known National Park and for his love of the Windy City, as well. Hackley students loved his presentation and there were many questions and conversations with him even after the class ended.

The America’s National Parks course is designed to teach students about America’s vast National Parks system, including its history, challenges, environmental initiatives, safety concerns and the criteria for being named a National Park. The course includes a nine-day trip during spring break to two National Parks in California, Joshua Tree and Channel Islands.

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On Nov. 29, Ellie Grueskin ’18 returned to the Hilltop to share her experience as a baseball operations analyst for the San Francisco Giants. She spoke with ninth and eleventh grade students during a Community Time talk (click here to read her full remarks) about how she uses statistics to help coaches and front office personnel make decisions related to game strategy, defensive positioning and baserunning. She also traced her career path with the Giants and previously as an analytics intern with the Boston Red Sox back to her time in Keshena Richardson’s Calculus Based AP Statistics class and her Senior Project hosted by a fellow Hackley alum, who is also a parent.

After a lunchtime conversation in the Lindsay Room with Jon Gruenberg’s statistics students, Ms. Grueskin stopped by Ms. Richardson’s class to share about her career and get into more of the nitty gritty statistics details of her work. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University, where she wrote a senior thesis about the new MLB rule changes.

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Peter Loehr ’85 delivered a Mitton Lecture and met with Chinese classes on Dec. 5 to share the impact that language learning has had on his life and his career as an award-winning filmmaker. Mr. Loehr, who is fluent in Mandarin and Japanese, has produced 11 feature films in Asia and has served in leadership roles at a number of film companies in China. 

The Mitton Endowment for Modern Languages was established to honor Raymond Mitton’s 31 years of distinguished teaching at Hackley from 1967 to 1998. Mr. Mitton also chaired the Modern Languages Department from 1971 until his retirement.

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On Dec. 7, Paulathena Stone ’13 visited with Upper School biology students to share her path from the Hilltop to her career as a certified nurse midwife at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx. Dr. Stone discussed fostering her love of science at Hackley through her work in Biology and Advanced Biology courses with Tessa Johnson and Kerry Clingen.

She also spoke with students about how she has maintained relationships with her Hackley peers through her time as an undergrad at Boston University and throughout her graduate and doctoral work at Columbia University.