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Harpeth Hall 8th grade Career Day embraces collaboration over competition as alumnae share insights on celebrating success

Harpeth Hall 8th grade Career Day embraces collaboration over competition as alumnae share insights on celebrating success
Harpeth Hall 8th grade Career Day embraces collaboration over competition as alumnae share insights on celebrating success

Bears don’t compare. 

This can often be heard in the halls, classrooms, speeches, and assemblies, but it is so much more than a catchy phrase. It is a way of thinking that each student takes to heart, encouraged to celebrate her peers' successes as if they were her own. 

So, no, bears don’t compare. They collaborate. 

Career Day serves as one of the best examples of the collaborations that form between Harpeth Hall girls and the graduates they become. During the annual event, alumnae from many different professions return to campus to talk about their career paths, their struggles, their accomplishments, and the turns that life sometimes took as they pursued their passions.

This year, during 8th grade Career Day, the returning alumnae had a particularly important message to share with students: you will always benefit from collaborating with and celebrating your peers and from finding a mentor or community to help guide you.

Tori Tucker Alexander ’03, owner and lead designer of Alexander Interiors, sat on a career day panel for entrepreneurs and business owners. Ms. Alexander has built her business with great success from the ground up. Even so, she shared with students how easy it can be to feel intimidated by others’ work. As an example, she spoke about her fellow Career Day panelist, Katie Harwell Gibson ‘07, owner and lead designer of Katie Gibson Interiors.

“Katie is such an incredibly talented interior designer. When I look at pictures of her work, I think ‘That is incredible, I could never do that,’” Ms. Alexander said. “And here is my choice at that point. Do I feel insecure and jealous, or do I celebrate her? Do I view her as competition or take the approach that we can all only benefit from each other? I chose the latter path a very long time ago, and I am so glad I did.”

The theme of collaboration and celebration was echoed throughout the afternoon. In the panel focused on real estate, Denton Whitson Kerrigan ‘06, senior program manager of property portfolio at Tennessee Valley Authority, and Lauren Riegle Mitchell ‘07, broker at JLL, discussed how they were able to work together to find commercial real estate space.

“The relationships that Harpeth Hall provides are so important,” Ms. Mitchell said. “It doesn’t matter how old or how young someone is at Harpeth Hall, you are going to have a relationship with them. They are going to one day pick up the phone and have a conversation; they will take a meeting with you. Because you have that bond of Harpeth Hall, people understand that you are competent, that you are caring, trustworthy, curious. That is the most valuable thing that Harpeth Hall could ever provide, no matter the generation.”

At the end of the day, Interim Director of the Middle School Mary Lea Bryant ‘72 reinforced the importance of these connections. She pointed out to students that when they graduate, they join a community of women who will always be willing to talk, answer questions, or serve as mentors. Career Day is one example of that bond.

“You see the sisterhood here? You see how these women have for years used the Harpeth Hall network?” Ms. Bryant said. “The Harpeth Hall sisterhood goes for a lifetime. …[The alumnae you heard throughout Career Day] are great examples of this sisterhood. They are great examples of taking risks.” 

And of supporting and celebrating each other’s successes.



“As a woman in the field, to just get your foot in the door, you have to speak a little louder and fight a little harder.”
— Ava Boney ‘17, A&R manager at Big Loud Records

“The world of education is always changing and evolving over time. There are so many new ways to teach and learn. So that’s really cool to bring to your classroom.”
— Katie Gallagher ‘05, coach for TGlearn, an educational consulting firm

“Growing up and throughout Harpeth Hall, the arts set my soul on fire. I went to college and had an advertising and PR major. All of my internships were working in music. I realized that working with music and being close to music gave me a similar feeling to being on stage. It was the thing that kept my soul on fire…empowering yourselves to figure out what you don’t like is just as important as figuring out what you do like.”
— Anna Kathryn Groom ‘15, brand partnerships agent at Wasserman Music

“Ask for the opportunity. Ask to be in the room. Harpeth Hall teaches you to ask and to engage. The eight years that I spent at Harpeth Hall I was so empowered going out into college and the real world. I knew that I could accomplish anything I wanted to. I was confident in what I was taught.”
— Liza Hach ‘14, owner and realtor at The Hach Group

“A huge part of the job is observing, listening, and trying to piece together what is happening in

that person’s life. As a counselor, you have to be accepting and open-minded.”
— Kristin Wamp Hibbett ‘06, therapist and owner of Midtown Nashville Counseling

“I have been able to work with incredible mentors and powerhouse female role models, and that is really important to achieving career goals.”
— Sarah Zimmerman Jordan ‘07, project marketing manager at Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, Threads, and WhatsApp

“[Coming from Harpeth Hall], I felt more prepared than everybody. I found that I knew how to work smarter than other people. Harpeth Hall instilled [the merit of] hard work, but also how to study, how to be prepared, the kind of thing that other people just did not get from their school. It is invaluable.”
— Denton Whitson Kerrigan ‘06, senior program manager property portfolio at Tennessee Valley Authority

“I love the unpredictability of thinking on my feet, acting in the moment, and working with medical residents — teaching and helping them become leaders. Just as you learn at Harpeth Hall, asking questions, speaking up, and making your voice heard have served me well.”
— Kaitlin Ray ‘07, emergency medicine physician at Vanderbilt University Medical Center

“Not knowing what you want to do in life as a career is totally fine. Just explore what interests you and you will find that a lot of what you like can lead to a career.”
— Leslie Kimball Satchfield ‘10, therapist for Evolve Counseling Associates

“As a deeply introverted person, it was so helpful to have chances at Harpeth Hall to share my opinion, develop a viewpoint, and learn additional ways of seeing situations. Now, as a lawyer, I am able to consider how other people may interpret what I write.”
— Katie Sloan ‘95, vice president-deputy general counsel at Compassus, a provider of home-based care services