January Alumni Connection

 In Alumni News, Press Releases, Vanguard Blog

January Alumni Connection

A Look Back to the Class of 2005

Class reunions are a time filled with sharing current successes and reminiscing about days gone by. Members of the Vanguard Class of 2005 recently had the opportunity to do both at their 10-year high school reunion. A few of them shared their reflections with us.

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 12.45.51 PMLauren Tull went from Vanguard to Rhodes College, where she loved every moment. In fact, she encourages current Vanguard students to explore out-of-state college options, because she had such an incredible experience.

After graduating from college, Lauren lived in Washington D.C., where she worked in event planning and communication. But in 2013 she was able to fulfill her dream of returning to Texas to live and work in Austin, when she accepted a job with Google.

“I focus on recruiting software engineers to build Google products like Gmail, Chrome and Android apps,” she said. “It’s pretty exciting to help people land their dream jobs and build apps that millions of people use daily!”

Lauren believes that Vanguard’s uniqueness among schools prepared her for furthering her education and her career.

“Vanguard is great, because it lets students be really independent, but also provides a great community and teachers who are really invested in the success of their students,” she said. For her, the teachers who really stood out were Mary Helen George and Carol Spain.

Another Class of 2005 graduate who lists Carol Spain as a favorite teacher is Daniel Silver.P1030772

“Mrs. Spain really challenged is in both 7th and 8th grade, and instilled in us the importance of a good foundation for our education,” Daniel said. “While her classes were demanding and tough, it prepared us extremely well not only for high school, but college as well.”

Daniel began his college career earning his undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin. He also has an M.A. in East Asian Studies from Columbia University. Since graduating, he has lived in Wisconsin, China, Washington D.C. and New York City, and has worked in several industries. He now has the opportunity to combine his academic interest in East Asia with his personal interest in Israel by working for the American Jewish Committee at the Asia Pacific Institute.

“I get to travel all over Asia, working to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel,” he said. “I also get the opportunity to meet on a regular basis with ambassadors, diplomats and sometimes heads of state.”

If he could give one piece of advice to current Vanguard students, it would be to get involved with school activities.

“Get involved with student council, language clubs, culture clubs, athletics, anything,” he said. “Participate in volunteer and community service programs. Take advantage of all these amazing opportunities that you have to better not only yourself, but your community.”

Alumni ConnectionBritain Bruner has also built a strong career from his Vanguard foundation. After graduating in 2005, he went on to Austin College before eventually earning his Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from Baylor University. He currently works for the United States Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration Office.

“I am using science to make a global impact on the transportation of dangerous goods commerce by reducing transportation-related safety risks,” he said.

Britain credits Vanguard for giving him a solid start to a challenging career path (and as an Ironman Triathlete).

“I owe much of my success in public speaking, teamwork, team leading and resourcefulness to my experience with basketball, baseball, speech and debate, mock trial, the junior American chemistry society at Vanguard,” he said. Three teachers in particular are among his favorites: Paula Marshall, Suzanne Kelly and Harold Mulholland.

Carolyn Crouch Phillips has also used her early Vanguard experiences to mold not only her education, but a unique career path. She began by earning an undergraduate degree in Entrepreneurial Management from TCU, then a Master’s in Sustainability from Arizona State University. She went on to work in non-profit management and fundraising until she started her own brit_shoot-23company in 2014.

She is the owner and chief alchemist of Alchemy Pops, a frozen food company based in Fort Worth, specializing in handcrafted, gourmet popsicles made from Texas-sourced ingredients.

“It’s my dream job because I dreamed it up!” Carolyn said. “Owning my own business is the culmination of a lot of work, support and encouragement over multiple years, and I feel grateful every day.”

“I was prepared for college and beyond, but most importantly, Vanguard cultivated the expectation that I, and my fellow classmates, would succeed in whatever path we chose,” she said. “I love the memories I created at Vanguard with my classmates.”

And, she said, she learned just as much outside the classroom as she did within.

“Vanguard was a place where I could love learning,” Carolyn said. “From math-themed Christmas carols, to racing hovercrafts we built in physics class, learning was fun!”

That sense was what made Paula Marshall her favorite Vanguard teacher.   “Nothing about her class was easy, but she created a learning environment that was as fun as it was challenging, and it took me a while to realize how special that is,” she said.

Carolyn’s advice to current Vanguard students is to embrace the fun while they learn as well.  “Don’t be afraid of a challenge,” she said. “You grow outside of your comfort zone.”

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