Sometimes following "the rules" gets you into a mess

My time in high school

Attended high school in the

Overall high school experience
10/10. I LOVED high school. I was THAT girl. Captain of the cheer squad, honors classes, great friends, good grades... I was in my element. Everything came easy.

Grades in high school
Mostly A's.


Favorite subjects
English, History / Social Studies, Foreign Language, Performing Arts

Struggled with...
Math/Science - which is such crap, because I was actually really good at math. But I got moved down to the "honors" lane instead of "honors accelerated" in math during Jr. High, and I never forgave myself. I thought for SURE I was terrible at math. I was actually pretty good at math... and certainly the math that matters. Folks, you are probably never going to use math beyond algebra and geometry. Some people will - and unfortunately, we all have to struggle through trig and calculus for the amusement of the university system... but I have never once had to find the volume of a cone or the area under a curve in real life.

Favorite extracurricular
Sports / Recreation

Life since high school

It made me admit that I can’t just “work harder” and make things better - sometimes I have no control. It taught me an important lesson - you can’t control the ocean. The best you can do is learn to surf.

Attended college / university at
University of California, Berkeley

Majored in
I majored in Business Administration.

Post-graduate education or training
I got my MBA from Villanova University at night while working and while having a baby... I highly suggest that you NOT do that. It's a bit much. :)

Places lived in US
California, Pennsylvania

Places lived outside the US
no - I wish I had! On the bucket list!

Current occupations / past occupations
I am currently the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for a tiny pharma start up. I have been in various positions in Marketing for consumer goods - mostly skincare and OTC drugs.

Industries I've worked in
- Retail Trade
- Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (e.g. Law, Accounting, Interior Design, Graphic Design, R&D, PR, Advertising, etc.)
- Management of Companies and Enterprises

Did your education prepare you for your career or occupation?
Yes - mine absolutely did. My marketing courses at Cal were very relevant and helped me land my job. I also did a number of low-pay internships that gave me experiences that helped me interview well.

Has your education or career/occupation trajectory ever changed? How?
I've stayed pretty close to what I wanted to do... but now I want to expand. I'd love to write a book!

A little introspection...

To me, being successful means...
Balancing building for my future with enjoying my life today.

My definition of success has changed over time. 
I am a rule follower. Always have been. Give me the rules of the game and I'll figure out how to win. That was a great strategy when I was growing up and in the Palo Alto schools, and I was really successful at [high school]. I got mostly A's, won school elections, was captain of the cheer team, etc, etc... I was working like crazy, but I was loving it, and I had plenty of energy. I was winning. I was succeeding. All the people around me told me so.

The world got broader... I went to a really large University where I felt like I suddenly was swallowed up - I felt mediocre, average and forgotten. In truth, I was none of those things, but I had trained myself to seek approval from the outside, from "winning the game", and it was hard for me to see myself as successful if I wasn't doing that, daily. I became self-destructive in my own way. I developed an eating disorder, I drank too much - I really didn't know how to find my place.

I still did very well in school and I landed my dream job in a large corporation and set myself to learning the rules of that game and winning it. And I did that successfully for many years. But it took more and more from me - I was exhausted. And life was happening. I ended up in a bad marriage with an addict and I found myself afraid to leave and be seen as having "failed." I became a mom of 2 - the best thing that has ever happened, but any parent will tell you that kids are a lot of work. Trying to hold my life together as a mom of two young kids, in a marriage that was disintegrating, while climbing the corporate ladder was too much. I found myself in and out of my eating disorder, and relying heavily on pharmaceuticals to keep me moving. Two anti-depressants, an anti-anxiety med and pills to help me sleep at night. But the outside world told me I was succeeding. Everyone was so impressed at how I made "it all" work. But I was miserable, numb and hollow. I cried alone in my car on the way to work, and I cried on the way home.

Then my life exploded. The issues in my marriage reached a breaking point and I ended it. My performance at work was compromised and Corporate America was unforgiving - my company laid me off... from "Golden Girl" to reject in a matter of months. I found myself without a job, without a marriage, with no idea what my future was.

Every single definition of success I had for myself was lying in ruins around me. And you know what? I lived. I cried and I got help from an amazing therapist. I gave myself permission to spend time with my children, and I realized that I really like hanging out with those little stinkers. I worked on my own mental state and slowly dropped the medications (with doctor support and supervision, of course.) I learned to forgive myself for being imperfect. I found a strength, resiliency and peace in myself that I had never seen before. And I found a new job that pays less, but allows me to be home, have a flexible schedule, and love my life today instead of hating my life today while I wait for tomorrow to somehow be better.

There are people who look at me today and think, "Boy, she got totally destroyed and look at her now... couldn't get back to where she was," but they have no idea what they're talking about. I'm happy today. I'm healthy. I'm present for my kids. And we will be fine. We may not take a fancy vacation every year, we may be a family that doesn't have two parents in the same house, but we are going to be fine. My girls will grow up knowing that there is value in enjoying today and appreciating what you have. Because the future you are sacrificing today for may not be in your control - and it may turn out to be nothing like you picture.

My greatest accomplishment to date and what I’ve learned from it
It's probably all said above, but my greatest accomplishment has been finding my own strength and rising out of the total mess that my life became. 

My biggest mistake or regret so far and what I’ve learned from it
My biggest mistake was staying in my marriage as long as I did and accepting poor treatment as something that I had "signed up for" by getting married. I really thought I could fix it. But you can't control someone else's actions. You have to set your own boundaries/expectations - and if people can't respect those, you have to let them go. 

An unexpected event that significantly changed my life and how it impacted me
Just one? The utter destruction of my marriage and life as I knew it between June 2015 and January 2016. It made me humble. It made me admit that I can't just "work harder" and make things better - sometimes I have no control. It taught me an important lesson - you can't control the ocean. The best you can do is learn to surf. And I'm a happier and more successful person because of it. I've only just started the new chapter of my life, and I really can't wait to see where it goes.

Anything else you can share?
Life is so much bigger than Palo Alto. Be brave. Reach out. Take risks. If PA works for you like it did for me, then love where you came from, but don't be afraid to find some discomfort and ways to grow. If PA doesn't work for you, take what was good with you and move on. The world has good things in store for you. Go find them.

This alumni is open to your questions and follow-ups.
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My favorite spot in or around Palo Alto

I will always love Hobees. The one near Gunn.