Brookwood School Eighth Graders Gain Wisdom from Alumni

I had the great fortune to sit with two fellow Brookwood alums, Jessie Long ’00 and Akshay Patel ’86, who returned to campus for our annual Alumni Mentor Luncheon April 14.  We spoke to a group of Brookwood eighth graders, soon to be Brookwood graduates themselves, on the topic of Leadership. Each of us on the panel had a unique story and perspective to share. 

Jessie is a Brookwood Cup recipient, graduate of Governor’s Academy, and Dartmouth College and third year student at UMass Medical School with a path in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Akshay, a graduate of Phillips Academy Andover, the University of Pennsylvania and the Georgia Institute of Technology, is the founder and CEO of LeadKarma LLC and is currently working on the launch of a new marketing startup. He is also parent to Kayuri ’23.  I graduated from Brookwood in 1995, went on to Dana Hall School and then St. Lawrence University.  I recently returned to Brookwood to work in the Advancement Office after a decade of running my own event planning company – something I started with my best friend whom I met here in Kindergarten.

The three of us answered a variety of questions, from “How did Brookwood prepare you for where you are?” and “Did grades dictate your path?” to “How have you balanced your hobbies in times when school work or your career has been your priority?”  We also reflected on our 13- and 14-year-old lives and recalled feelings of uncertainty about moving beyond Brookwood’s comforting classrooms and hallways.

Jessie spoke quite a bit about the importance of balance in life, adding that Brookwood, “laid the foundation that enabled me to move forward, allowed me to be comfortable in places with people who did not look like me and Brookwood took care to ensure my success.”

Akshay addressed the importance of “casting a wide web” and said that the students would “be the most successful once they find out what they are interested in … that they will find sweet spots.”

I talked about applying my skills to a place and a field I enjoyed. I also mentioned the importance of saving phone numbers because you never know when you will be calling on people you meet in life.

As an alum I remember fondly the feeling of anticipation in my eighth grade year of what is beyond Brookwood. I know the students, filled with that same anticipation, left the luncheon with exciting ideas of all the possibilities that lay before them.

 We are so fortunate that our Alumni are eager to come back to mentor the young students, and we’re grateful to them for doing so. As Brookwood enters its 60th year we look forward to sharing many more amazing Alumni stories and bringing more Alumni to campus to talk about how Brookwood helped shape their lives.

If you are an alum and have a story to tell, make sure and let me know at I’d love to hear from you.

– Eliza Cowan ’95

Director of Alumni and Parent Relations