When the Road You Are Supposed to Travel Detours

My time in high school

Attended high school in the

Overall high school experience
8/10. I met a group of friends that understood me. We had some drama, but we were unique individuals who respected each other. My high school romances were sweet and innocent and I feel lucky that I had those experiences. It was a tough time with my parents; I had a very strict upbringing and in high school I was trying to loosen those ties a little more.

Grades in high school
A's and B's. 3.6 average? I can't remember :). It got me into one of my first choice colleges, so I was happy.


Best subjects
English, Foreign Language, Performing Arts

Struggled with...
Math and Physics were always tough subjects for me. I remember looking at my Physics book (and I certainly was not in an advanced class) and thinking that it was like reading a foreign language! I knew I had to have a foundation in it, for medical school (which I planned on doing), so I forced myself. It was a good lesson in sticking with something, despite not liking a subject too much.

Favorite extracurricular
Dance. I was a ballet dancer for years and I loved the class. Surprisingly, I never took dance in school and only those closest to me even knew I was trained in ballet.

Life since high school

I think my greatest accomplishment so far has been in raising my kids, in partnership with my spouse, to be kind-hearted, generous, and caring individuals. Having kids humbles one tremendously; you have to truly examine your priorities and goals. Our kids are not extensions of ourselves - they are individuals.

Attended college / university at
Wellesley College.

Majored in
Double major in Biology and Art History

Post-graduate education or training
Sat in on a number of graduate school courses in immunology/anatomy at Tufts U. where I eventually worked in a lab.

Places lived in US
California, Oregon

Current occupations / past occupations
After college, I worked in a research lab. I did some retails sales work while I was in the lab.From there I went into biotech sales, eventually becoming a regional sales manager for a German biotech company. Became a stay at home mom/volunteer parent. Now I work as a reading tutor for a non-profit that hopes to improve reading skills in Title 1 schools.

Industries I've worked in
- Retail Trade
- Educational Services
- Health Care and Social Assistance

Did your education prepare you for your career or occupation?
Yes! And funny story too, because it's not what one would think. My junior year in college I truly struggled in Genetics. I think I ended up getting a "D" (as in "dog"), with only my laboratory grade saving me from truly failing. It was like my high school physics experience all over again! It was only after years out of college (probably 5), when I was working for the biotech company that employed me did I finally understand the intricacies of the human genome. It all came back! My science background (not just genetics, but immunology, chemistry, and histology/cytology) helped me land a job in both research and sales. The sales company was only interested in people who had a science research background. I eventually ended up working with four of the scientists of the Human Genome Project :)

Has your education or career/occupation trajectory ever changed? How?
Yes, absolutely. I was supposed to go to medical school, but my MCAT scores were dismal (I did however help my college roommate. She is a very successful pediatric oncologist!). After working 2 years in a research lab, I discovered that graduate work in biology was not for me. But I was drawn to the chatty sales people who technically knew a lot about their biotech products. I asked for an interview and got my job *during* my interview.

A little introspection...

To me, being successful means...
Secure in knowing my future, my partner's future, and my kids' futures are going to be happy, fulfilling, and fun!

My definition of success has changed over time. 
In my younger years, it was definitely about financial goals: how much money I made a year, what kind of job title I had, I didn't spend my time comparing myself to others, but I was definitely on a path to "race with myself" about achieving certain financial goals before a set time.

My greatest accomplishment to date and what I’ve learned from it
I know it's a little early to say (my kids are still pre-teens), but I think my greatest accomplishment so far has been in raising my kids, in partnership with my spouse, to be kind-hearted, generous, and caring individuals. Having kids humbles one tremendously; you have to truly examine your priorities and goals. Our kids are not extensions of ourselves - they are individuals. 

My biggest mistake or regret so far and what I’ve learned from it
My biggest regret is that it took me a long time to let go of the baggage of being a perfectionist. I felt that I needed the right career, the right parenthood trajectory, to be the best boss/co-worker/parent/partner. It takes a lot of effort to worry. So much more can be done during this time; things that could be more impactful and productive.

An unexpected event that changed my life and how it impacted me
My daughter was diagnosed with autism at age 3. Before this, I had bought into the idea that I would be a "Tiger Mom": I would ensure that my daughter went to the best schools, would attain great grades, would learn an instrument (or two), play for sports teams. From then, it would be college and then success! Wasn't that the formula we, as Palo Alto students, were all given to fulfill? Her diagnosis turned everything on it's ear. She was almost non-verbal, expressing herself by constant echolalia. A county services counselor said she would probably have to be institutionalized. But I fought for her (and myself). I had already quit my job and we went to therapists: OT, PT, neuropsychiatrists, developmental behavior specialists, etc. My partner and I worked with her for years. At one point I had to home-school her for 2 years. Only when she was seven years old did she verbalize, "I love you" to me. I was in tears that night; tears of gratitude and happiness. The event taught me that no matter how well you plan, things can change in an instant. You have to be ready to meet challenges head on, but it helps if you have a partner and community to do it. One's definition of "success" changes depending on the circumstances. I no longer yearn for my kids to go to an Ivy-league school or make hundreds of thousands of dollars. I simply want them to be happy with their chosen life paths. 

Anything else you'd like to share?
For any students reading, please know that the most important thing for you is to know yourself! Be honest in your assessment of your strengths and challenges. Set goals, but prepare to be flexible. And enjoy and savor every moment of your youth - it all passes by so fast!

My favorite spot in or around Palo Alto

I loved riding my bike all over PA. I lived near Midtown, but I loved riding through Old PA, up by Gunn, back downtown. There was so much to see (and it was so accessible) in old Palo Alto :)
[map pointing to Palo Alto in general]