Alumni Testimonials

Vanguard students are prepared for college and beyond

Vanguard focuses on preparing students not only academically, but equipping students with the skills to be successful beyond college.

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REUEL NASH ’75

  • BS in Electrical Engineering in 1979, and an MS in EE in 1983
  • Texas A&M University ’83
  • Software Engineer, Google
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SCOTT SILVER ’02

  • American Film Institute ’07
  • Co-founder, SilvatarMedia
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BILL HEARN

  • Viking in 1970’s
  • CEO, EMI Records
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GRANT DUDLEY ’75

  • Viking in 1975
  • Owner, RBDR Architects
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CAROLYN RAYMOND ’07

  • Denison University ’11
  • Copywriter, Martha Stewart Living

DID VANGUARD REALLY PREPARE YOU FOR COLLEGE?

At Vanguard I learned how to manage my time so that I could easily balance my academic work, social life and campus activities. Vanguard gave me a sense of independence that made my transition into college easy.  I loved that Vanguard is a small school, my teachers were able to get to know me. I never hesitated to talk to my teachers about projects, homework assignments or even college recommendations. I felt confident asking my teachers at Vanguard to write college recommendations for me because they really knew me – I wasn’t just a number.

RACHEL LUNDEEN GATLIN ’01

Chief of Staff, Office of the First Lady of Tennessee Post High School Education:
  • Auburn University, Bachelor’s of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies
  • Vanderbilt University, Master’s degree in Public Policy and Social Welfare
  • University of Tulsa College of Law/Vanderbilt Law School, Juris Doctorate
Current Occupation: Chief of Staff, Office of the First Lady of Tennessee Career Highlights:
  • Former speechwriter for First Lady and Governor of Tennessee
  • Child policy researcher for the Children’s Rights Alliance in Dublin, Ireland
  • Helped write constitutional language in response to an Irish class-action case involving children
  • Licensed to practice law, member of the Tennessee Bar

HOW DID VANGUARD PREPARE YOU FOR SUCCESS?

“High School was more academically challenging for me than college. I was arguably over-prepared for higher education at a state school, and I was armed with the tools to be successful in both small discussion classes, as well as large lecture classrooms. Vanguard, along with my parents, instilled a love for learning and set a foundation for confidently pursuing what is now a very rewarding and unconventional legal career.”

RODNEY GANSKE ’96

  • Partner at the Alston & Bird law firm in Atlanta, GA
Post High School Education:
  • Rice University, Bachelor’s of Science degree in Economics and Political Science
  • Harvard Law School, Law Degree
Current Occupation:
  • Partner at the Alston & Bird law firm in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Focus on antitrust/competition law and other complex litigation
Career Highlights:
  • Lots of international travel Ganske did not expect, but has really enjoyed
  • Represented Alston & Bird in Canada, Finland, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan during the past few years

HOW DID VANGUARD PREPARE YOU FOR SUCCESS?

“I am a litigator and get to argue in court and take depositions often, but also work with expert witnesses on economic and technical issues. So everything from English to math, from chemistry to biology have come in very handy. Of course Vanguard’s Speech class and Mock Trial
Mallory SoRelle – Class of 2002
  • Phi Beta Kappa with honors from Smith College in 2006 with a degree in Government and Sociology – Master of Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government
  • The demanding nature of the coursework at Vanguard gave her the tools to be successful when taking on these new challenges, and also taught her how to stay motivated and overcome occasional failures. The best advice she has for students – “take full advantage of the opportunities Vanguard gives you to explore new passions and to build your intellectual toolkit so you can confidently and successfully tackle whatever you chose to do next.”
Jonathan Dallas – Class of 2012
  • Washington University in St. Louis, earning a degree in biomedical engineering, with his eye on a possible career in research, prosthetics, or engineering. He is currently attending Vanderbilt University School of Medicine as an M.D. candidate, class of 2020
  • “Learning in class isn’t the only part of high school,” Jonathan said. “While it’s important, I think one of the most crucial things is to get involved and develop interests that can be furthered later on. And take advantage of the resources at Vanguard, especially the teachers who are eager to help students. That can be invaluable.”
Callie Hyde – Class of 2012
  • Baylor where she was an honors scholar with distinction, summa cum laude, a Crane Scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, graduating in 2016. She is currently a student at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., and expects to graduate in the spring of 2019
  • “I learned to make mistakes and fall on my face at Vanguard, but teachers like Mrs. Ferretter, Mrs. Leslie, and Mrs. Johns taught me the significance of working at something until you understand it,” Callie said. “Whether you’re a calculus-brain or not, anyone can do the work if they put in the time. I learned from them that hard work is just as important as intelligence.”
Randy Olmsted – Class of 2011
  • Bachelor of Arts in Plan II at the University of Texas at Austin, which is an interdisciplinary liberal arts honors program. Olmsted is now in medical school at the Baylor College of Medicine at Houston.
  • He adds that “from a more concrete standpoint, the coursework in my first and second year at college was remarkably similar to Vanguard’s curriculum in both content and difficulty. I was able to succeed in college thanks to teachers like Mrs. Ferretter, Mr. Johnson, Mrs. Johns, Mrs. Richie, Coach Seifert and many others who instilled solid critical reasoning, essay writing, and analytical skills in me from the start of my time at Vanguard.”
Alex Jones – Class of 2006
  • Trinity, where she received dual degrees in neuroscience and Spanish, then moved to Chicago where she joined Teach for America. “I taught high school chemistry for two years, earned an MAT. She attended Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and graduated with an MD/MPH. It’s not surprising that chemistry, especially “the exciting experiments in AP Chemistry,” was a favorite subject.
  • “Vanguard prepared me by developing a strong work ethic and drive to achieve my goals, “ Alex said. “So many of my teachers were willing to teach and, when necessary, reteach me so that I could see the benefits of perseverance and build confidence that I was truly capable.
Eric Russell – Class of 2005
  • A. in History from Baylor University, specialization in Chinese History
  • Vanguard provided the goggles and the parachute, preparing him for life’s jumps, complete with a backup plan or two for when things don’t go as planned.   “Vanguard helped prepare me to take many jumps along life’s journey,” Eric said. “This is where I learned that there are always more ways than one to look at – and solve – a problem. You have to confront it and adapt to some new changes.”
Rachel Spross – Class of 2012
  • The University of Texas with a BS in fashion design and a minor in business administration
  • Like so many other alumni, Spross learned time management from favorite teachers such as Mrs. Ferretter while at Vanguard. “I played sports and participated in quite a few other extracurriculars outside of school. Learning how to juggle these things along with all of my schoolwork has proven to be extremely valuable to me in college,” Spross says.
  • Spross’ advice for current students is simple: “Don’t compare yourself to other people. Set goals for yourself and make a plan for how you intend to achieve them. Always do what is best for you and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.
Claire Cole – Class of 2008
  • After graduating from Princeton University in 2012 with a degree in psychology, Cole is now pursuing a Masters in Teaching through the Relay Graduate School of Education.
  • “One thing I really value about my Vanguard experience is that I was given the opportunity to try a lot of different things, even and especially things I wasn’t very good at. I’m not a gifted athlete, however, I was able to play on the girls basketball team and run cross-country. Now, I’m going to be the 7th-grade girls basketball coach at my school next year, and I still have a personal running practice. I wasn’t a very sophisticated writer, but I edited Liquid Paper (Vanguard’s student-run literary magazine). I still take writing classes in my free time, and encourage my own students to write and share their writing.”
  • “My experience at Vanguard taught me that it is so important to put yourself out there and try things, which you are not very good at, just for the sake of trying. You never know when you will happen across an undiscovered skill, and you will be a more interesting person because you took the risk.”
Ricky Olmsted – Class of 2008
  • He attended the University of Miami where he received his bachelor’s degree in economics. Olmsted then received his Master’s of Medical Science from the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth
  • “Since graduating from Vanguard, I’ve had a leg up on the other students in my classes. This was most apparent while I was an undergraduate when it came to writing essays. Mrs. Spain was very passionate about her work. She made sure that students had grammar and writing mechanics down cold, which were some things with which I noticed that other students in my college classes struggled. Freshman biology and AP Biology, both of which were taught by veteran teacher Mrs. Aline Leslie, are where I discovered a true passion for science. Her classes laid a great foundation for material I’m still using today.”
  • Advice for current students: “Take advantage of the many educational opportunities presented to you.” He advises students to be thankful for the freedoms Vanguard affords, but to also have a laser focus on doing well academically, which will lay the groundwork for future, continued success.
Stephen Ganske – Class of 2000
  • That determination carried him through four years at Baylor, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and later through St. Mary’s, where he graduated with a J.D.
  • “What I remember best about Vanguard is that I had teachers who cared enough to show the areas in which I was going to excel,” he said. “Dr. Johnson taught me speaking skills which I have never forgotten and use every day,” he said. “Mrs. Davis taught me to expect more of myself. Mrs. Richie taught me the study skills to get through law school. Mrs. Johns taught me the analytical skills which have made the basis of my entire career.”
  • “The best aspect of a Vanguard education is the ‘college preparatory’ aspect,” Stephen said. “The rigor, responsibility, and respect that Vanguard stressed every day shortened the adjustment to ‘grown-up life’ once I reached college. I’m thankful.”
Colton Treadwell – Class of 2012
  • Double majored in Psychology and Art at Sewanee and graduated with my Bachelor of Arts cum laude in May 2016.
  • At Vanguard, you will be challenged academically. At times, your work may be overwhelming. It is important to remember that the work you are doing in high school will have a profound effect on how you manage your workload in college. Don’t forget that Vanguard is also a great place to make friends and have fun.