Middle School students are filled with questions, and the SEEK Scholars Program gives seventh and eighth grade students the space to explore.
SEEK is an acronym for Scholars Engaged in Extending Knowledge. Established fourteen years ago, students first enter the program with a desire and passion to explore a topic or subject of interest not covered in the Middle School curriculum. She will then work with an in-school and/or out-of-school mentor who will help her formulate questions and help her guide her research. All SEEK scholars complete a final product such as a research paper, a publication, a performance, or an original composition that she presents to the SEEK faculty committee as well as the Middle School student body.
Harpeth Hall's fifteen 2018-19 SEEK scholars completed their presentations last week and were recognized and celebrated at an all school assembly and reception. Their enthusiasm for their subjects was obvious and contagious. Topics were widely varied, from "Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder through Poetry" to "The Impact of 3D Printing on Bionic and Prosthetic Limbs" to "Japenese Woodblock Printing," each presentation regardless of format was well-planned and engaging.
Head of School Jess Hill introduced the SEEK special guest speaker and alumna, Aparna "Appy" Frenchman, Class of 1994. During her time at Harpeth Hall Dr. Frenchman served as secretary of the Honor Council, editor-in-chief of Milestones, and Vice President of Cum Laude. She was also recognized as the senior representation in the Lady of the Hall court and received the Upper School Director's Award.
After graduating from Harpeth Hall, she earned her B.S. in cell and molecular biology from the University of Michigan, attended the University of Tennessee in Memphis, TN for medical school, and completed her residency at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Dr. Frenchman has worked in private practices in Miami, Chicago, and New Jersey, and her patients range from adolescents to age 102. Today, she is part of a private practice in Nashville for Adult Primary Care, Internal Medicine at Heritage Medical Associates.
By most measures, Dr. Frenchman's reputation and resume tell a story of personal and professional success; however, in her remarks to students she chose to share a little about the challenging times during her educational journey and times she experienced failure and missteps on her career path.
The most important things to have to make it through the hard times, Dr. Frenchman said, are "resilience and support."
"Harpeth Hall has more support than any other experience I have had... and it is real, and it's warm," she continued. "Don't take it for granted!"
Dr. Frenchman's candid and authentic delivery resonated with students who nodded and seemed to empathize with the feelings of self-doubt she experienced.
Everyone's path is different, and it is not always linear, Dr. Frenchman continued. She advised the girls, "I want you to know you have more time than you think," Frenchman said. "You can slow it down and figure it out."
She concluded her remarks, "Success after failure is actually more sweet and more meaningful - and you won't take it for granted."
Director of the Middle School, Judi O'Brien, closed the assembly and thanked the SEEK Scholars and SEEK faculty mentors. "Thank you for your scholarship, commitment and passion! And thank you to the faculty mentors, families and friends as well. Your support is a critical element to success."
Harpeth Hall is incredibly proud of our outstanding 2018-2019 SEEK scholars, and we are grateful to Dr. Appy Frenchman '94 for serving as an excellent example to our students of what it means to have resilience as they pursue their ambitions.