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Eighth grade students quiz alumnae on Career Day

Tuesday afternoon started with an untraditional pop quiz for Harpeth Hall’s 8th grade students.

  • Can you name the sisters in Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women?”
  • What are two ingredients in a Goo-Goo Cluster?
  • How do you define neurosurgery? 
  • What are the names of Harpeth Hall’s two Olympic-medal-winning swimmers?
  • How many justices sit on the U.S. Supreme Court?

The answer to each question connected in some way to a Harpeth Hall alumna and her cool career. It was the perfect way to kick off this year’s 8th Grade Career Day.

Nearly 30 Harpeth Hall alumnae shared personal experiences about their college pursuits, the journey through their career path, and the many lessons they learned along the way.

“Career Day inspires me because you can see how passionate each woman is for her job and her pure joy and love for it,” 8th grade student Liza Nelle Meltesen said. “It makes me excited for my future and finding something I love to do.”

After the “cool career quiz” and a short session sharing stories about some of Harpeth Hall’s success alumnae, students joined classroom discussions based on their interests, skills, and talents. The small-group setting gave students the chance to have meaningful conversations with alumnae from a variety of professional backgrounds, including entrepreneurship, construction, finance, healthcare, law, counseling, and more.

This time, students got to give the quiz, asking alumnae about everything from how to decide what to do for a career to the challenges they face as a woman in their profession.

Offering engaging in-the-workplace stories and helpful advice, Harpeth Hall alumnae highlighted a future of opportunities for the students. 

“Career Day really made me excited for the future,” 8th grade student Rollin Durrett said. “It is amazing hearing about all of these super hard things and classes the alumnae did. It makes me think that if they can do it, I can too. One of my favorite quotes was 'It is hard, but you can do it.'"

Here are some words of career wisdom from Harpeth Hall alumnae.


“When I think back to what my natural interests were as a young kid, I had all these ideas for what I wanted to do. What really caught my interest most in school were the science classes. The funny thing was that I was actually best at English and history — but science is what I loved. To me, that means, follow your passion. Just because you are great at something, doesn’t mean that is what you have to do. You can choose the thing that you just love and have the most interest and passion for. That is going to make the best career for you. You are naturally going to be good at the things that interest you the most.”

Dana Deaton Verner ‘95, Psychiatrist, medical director, and co-founder of Green Hills Family Psych


“In college, you will run into folks from a lot of walks of life, and, at some point in time, it will dawn on you the depth of education you have been exposed to at Harpeth Hall because you will be so far ahead of others you are in class with. It’s a gift.”

Ashley Norton Gold ‘88, Attorney for Wood Stabell Law Group, PLLC


“There are always going to be challenges, because you are female, because you are young, because this is your first job, because you switched careers. Just because you are any of these things doesn’t mean your idea isn’t great or you don’t know what you are talking about. So have the confidence to raise your hand, say what you think, and find your support group.”

Angie Zambrano ‘10; Americas regional compliance risk manager at Cat Financial Services Corporation


“I always try to have a mentor no matter where I am. Having someone in my professional life who has a different perspective is a really big thing.”

Crockett Hale Rodriguez ‘04, Dean of curriculum and instruction at Battle Ground Academy


“I think a life in the arts is one where, if you are going to be successful, you have to hone your intuition. No one is going to teach you that in school, but it is what makes art connect with hearts. You have to learn how to listen to that voice. If you learn how to listen to it and how to hone it, it will guide you in ways that you can’t logically anticipate. But, sometimes your heart and your spirit know more than your brain and you have to trust that. That is ultimately how doors are going to open. If you are interested in a creative field, it is because you are creative. You have to learn how to apply that creativity to your career. So not only making art, but how to make your career work.”

Kimia Ferdowsi Kline ‘03, Painter, curator, and professor for Kimia Kline Paintings


It is okay to change paths, and it is okay to not know what you want to do. That is my biggest piece of advice. I still don’t know what I want to do. I am constantly wanting to learn and grow, and I think that is something that took me a while to get to. Be okay with making mistakes and learn from them. That is the biggest thing I have learned.”

Leslie Rolfe ‘13, Strategy and planning analyst for HCA Healthcare


“In communications, there are so many areas of expertise, one brain can’t hold it all. So when we have big decisions to make, we meet and bring all perspectives together and decide from there. … Teamwork is part of life.”

Julia Brown Perry ‘97, Vice president of marketing communications for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

“When you are an entrepreneur, you can’t pick up the phone and call IT. You do it all. You quickly become versed in legal, and accounting, and marketing, and HR, and everything that has to do with running a business. It is hard work.”

Marcie Allen Van Mol ‘92, Owner and president of MAC Presents and Anzie Blue restaurant

“You are forming your core self right now, and through your experiences, like we all do moving forward, you will grow. We find new things that we are good at or that we are not good at. What we love and what we don’t love changes. Having some real honest conversations with yourself — even the scary ones like, ‘I’ve spent my whole life wanting to do this and now I don’t really like it’ — just face that as your reality. Don’t keep chasing something that doesn’t bring that happiness for you.”

Alissa Swearingen ‘97, General surgeon and chair in the department of surgery at Advanced Surgical Associates and TriStar Skyline Medical Center