Mentors & Mentees: They Lift as they Climb

The YHS Alumnae Mentorship program was launched last September and the feedback has been very positive from both mentees and mentors. We asked Ashley Williams ’12  and Salima Remtulla ’00 about their experiences.

Ashley, you were matched with mentor Shannon Trainor from the Class of 2005. Tell us about your experience and why you wanted a mentor?

I got involved with the Alumnae Mentorship Program because I wanted to learn as much as I could from a Yorkie who had gone through a similar university experience. I also wanted advice for upcoming interviews for medical residency in Canada. It was a very worthwhile experience because Shannon gave me excellent advice about how to prepare for interviews and shared her own experiences as a medical student studying abroad. Ultimately, I felt very supported by Shannon’s empathy and genuine interest in guiding me through my residency interviews.

Did you feel comfortable connecting with her?

It was effortless to connect with Shannon as she was very friendly and easy to talk to. She always left the door open for questions and future meetings. We arranged our meetings in a flexible way that suited both of our busy schedules.

How did she help you with your career journey?

In terms of my career journey, Shannon helped by giving me some questions to reflect on as I was going through my interview process. She gave me wise advice from her own residency experience and this helped me decide which jobs were better suited to my future plans. She also gave me a good list of interview questions to practice answering on my own or with family and friends.

How did you communicate?

Shannon and I arranged our first meeting on FaceTime. We then corresponded mostly by email and we also met for lunch when I was back in Vancouver. I hope to stay in touch especially since we are both in family medicine!

Do you think it’s important for recent grads to find a mentor?

I believe it is important as it can be difficult to navigate career options post university and so connecting with someone who has been through a similar experience provides reassurance. It is helpful to have someone to talk to who is objective to your experience because they might point out options or ideas you hadn’t thought of before. Finally, in a technology-run world, I think it is crucial to keep cultivating genuine human to human connections, which this program achieves.

Salima, as a mentor, you were matched with Skylar Gordon, Class of 2014. Tell us about that experience.

There was so much I gained from the experience – a new friend, a stronger connection with York House, the opportunity to reflect on some of the key decisions I’ve made in my own life as Skylar and talked through crossroads she’s navigating, fresh insights into current events, knowledge of the start-up scene here in Vancouver (and a delightful tea company in particular!), the list goes on. I’m looking forward to building on my relationship with Skylar now that she’s moved back to Vancouver, and am also excited about getting to know the new Yorkie I’ve been matched with in the second cycle of the YHS Alumnae Mentorship Program!

Why do you think it’s important to be a mentor?

None of us got to where we are today without help – whether it be from friends, family, teachers, colleagues, mentors, or others. Mentorship is about paying the kindness we’ve received forward so that we each lift as we climb. As women, mentoring is even more critical, as the ‘gender confidence gap’ is very real. To change the face of leadership, we need to encourage other women to set their sights higher and act with the self-assurance we wish we had ourselves.

Have you had many mentors throughout your own career to date?

Too many to count! And what the most impactful ones had in common was that each of them believed in me more than I believed in myself and pushed me to take risks, do better, and ask for more. All of us struggle to some degree with self-doubt – the more people you have in your life who think you’re more capable and amazing than you give yourself credit for, the more confidence and support you will have to take leaps, and grow.

Are there any tips you can give other alumnae wanting to be mentors?

Mentees give great advice! When we don’t actively seek out different perspectives, each of us tends to operate in an echo chamber. Consider how your mentee can offer you a fresh perspective on something you hold long-established beliefs about, or how they can help you understand a new trend (hashtags, anyone?). Skylar and I had a fantastic conversation about “Millennials” in one of our early meetings that fleshed out both of our understanding of generational biases – which run both ways! – and how workplaces and corporate cultures are shifting to address the needs of an increasingly purpose- and impact- oriented next generation.

Have you any advice for young graduates looking for mentors?

The hardest part is often figuring out what you want. Once you’ve identified what you want from a mentor (Help navigating a big decision? Career advice? Life advice? An introduction?), then do some research to figure out who might be able to give you what you’re looking for (Someone in your workplace? An expert in your field? A former Yorkie?), and ask!

I have yet to experience someone turning me down point-blank when asked for something I know they are able to offer – sometimes they’ll ask for some timing flexibility, other times they’ll refer me to someone they think is better able to help, but I always walk away with something! Similarly, I strive to pay that forward and give something whenever it’s asked of me.

Paying it Forward in Kenya

 

Jenna, you graduated from York House in 2011 and then went on to Claremont McKenna College. What did you study and why?

My passion for the social sciences and humanities was definitely cultivated at York House in classes with Mr. Cropley, Mr. P, Mr. Abt, and Ms. McIvor. It was not until university that I realized I was also interested in business and decided on an interdisciplinary major in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. After a trip to Tanzania in 2012 with my parents to explore their birthplace, I began to focus on development economics with an emphasis on East Africa.

You were until recently based in LA. You’ve now moved to Kenya. Please tell us how that came about.

Upon completion of my undergraduate degree, I was recruited to join an economic consulting firm in LA and worked as an Analyst for two and a half years before moving to Nairobi. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to build a non-profit consulting practice at the firm. In addition to working on private sector client engagements, I also worked on a number of projects for non-profit clients in Haiti, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania through this practice. I was extremely excited about these projects and was passionate about their outcomes, and I decided to search for a position at an impactful social enterprise in East Africa as my next professional step.

Please tell us about your company and position in Nairobi and why you decided to work there.

Ever since my first trip to East Africa in 2012, I have not stopped thinking about the region, particularly about ways to combat economic inequality and provide basic needs to the ultra poor. During my search for a position in the region, I was introduced to one of Sanergy’s founders through a mutual connection. I was extremely impressed by their innovative and impactful business model. Nairobi’s informal settlements (slums) are not connected to the city’s sewer system and human waste is disposed in the streets and rivers, resulting in serious consequences for the community’s health. Sanergy has developed a sanitary toilet (see picture) and franchises it to the residents of the informal settlements who operate the toilet as a small business by charging customers a small fee to use it. Sanergy safely collects the waste, transforms it into fertilizer, and sells it to local agriculture companies. My role is to maximize operational efficiency for the division of Sanergy that produces and franchises the sanitary toilets. My work cuts across all areas of the business including finance, sales, customer support, and supply chain.

You exemplify the school motto “Not for Ourselves Alone” – Did this passion for community service flourish at YHS?

Yes, definitely. My desire to improve the global community is something that was nurtured throughout my 13 years at York House. I value the emphasis the school places on community service – whether that is through raising funds for the annual Terry Fox Run, committing to sponsor a child’s education abroad, or through disaster relief efforts. A particularly memorable community service engagement was my trip to Paraguay in 2010 with a group of classmates to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.

What is life like in Nairobi for a young woman?

Nairobi is an incredibly vibrant, world-class city with an amazing culture and a fantastic food scene. People here are very welcoming and it has been very easy to build a community of friends. Nairobi’s nickname is the “Silicon Savannah” due to the city’s thriving technology sector and since many private sector and social impact start-ups operate here. It is a fun city to live in and I am really enjoying my time here.

Do you have any life advice for the newly graduated Class of 2018?

Some of the brightest people I have ever met were my classmates at YHS. As Yorkies, we are so lucky to grow up in an environment full of talented and driven young women. I would advise new graduates to continue to stay in touch, continue to build their friendships, and “pay it forward” – offer advice and help to each other and continue to build a community of mutual support.

Also, I would advise new graduates to explore the world and share your skills with the global community. You will gain personal satisfaction from working to make a positive impact on others’ lives, and you will gain confidence in yourself when you move to a new city and build a new network.

The Business of Making Puzzles: Nicole Benda ‘84 and her Entrepreneurial Journey

What did you do after graduating from YHS in 1984?  

I studied at UBC and obtained my BA in International Relations. After graduating from UBC, my first position was as a marketing assistant for a shopping centre management company and that is where I found my true career direction. I then enrolled at BCIT and studied part-time, while working full-time which made for some very long days, and obtained my Marketing Communications Certificate. From there I went on to work in a number of industries in various sales & marketing and human resources positions. In 2009, my husband and I adopted our son and I decided to stay home to raise him and became a domestic engineer ☺

What memories do you have of your time here?

I had a wonderful six years (Gr. 7 – 12) at YHS – it was an amazing learning environment which fostered great friendships, one really felt part of a close-knit community. Some of my favourite memories include the annual YHS Market, a trip to Seattle to visit the Tutankhamun exhibition, and playing centre for the basketball team. If memory serves me correctly, during our year we were only qualified as exhibition so it’s been great to see YHS become a powerhouse in basketball over the past couple of decades.

Describe your journey with Butzi Kids? What is Butzi Kids and how did it get its name?

In 2014, I wanted to buy a children’s puzzle of Vancouver and Whistler and yet I couldn’t find anything that I liked. This is what gave me the idea for Butzi Kids. As our son was about to start kindergarten, I knew this was the right time to venture off and create a business of my own – I decided that I was going to design and have manufactured children’s puzzles, placemats, and prints of Vancouver and Whistler. However, I had to learn everything from starting and running a business, manufacturing, freight forwarding to wholesaling, since I had no experience in any of these areas. I was very fortunate to have a collection of family, friends, and associates who had the relevant expertise who guided me along – it was a lengthy and challenging process but I was so motivated that it was all very exciting.

Butzi (pronounced boot-sy) is the German nickname we gave our son when he was a baby and since we made a lot of puzzles together while he was growing up, I thought it was fitting to name the company after him.

What are the most important life/business lessons you’ve learned along the way?  

A couple of key life/business lessons I have learned are attitude is everything and if you’re handed lemons, start making lemonade as there’s always a Plan B. It is important to realize that the challenges in front of one are surmountable with perseverance, and that one doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel – there are lots of people in one’s network who are more than happy to help and to share their experiences.

You attended an alumnae networking event last year. Was that your first time back at YHS since graduation?

Over the years, I had gone to the annual YHS market and it was always very nostalgic being back on the school grounds.

What challenges, if any, do you have with managing all aspects of your business?

As a one person operation, it can be very easy to procrastinate getting to the ‘not so exciting’ tasks of the business, or the tasks that aren’t ones forté, which for me was the social media aspect of the business. I am an old-school marketer so I struggled with putting out posts via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. I considered myself very lucky when I was chosen for a Shopify podcast where I received a ‘social media makeover’ with the help of Vancouver’s social media expert, ‘Miss 604’ Rebecca Bollwitt. She was fantastic to work with and learn from – the crash course in social media helped me immensely.

  1. Do you have any advice for young alumnae staring down the entrepreneurial path?

As cliché as it sounds, if you set your mind to something and you have the passion and determination, run with it, anything is possible! Do your research, gather information, and talk with as many people who have the expertise or contacts to help you along. There are so many excellent resources out there. I made good use of the internet and the library for resource books and I found Small Business BC to be extremely helpful. I felt along my journey that I kept getting the green light during the different stages of my business idea, and before I knew it, it became a reality.

 

Fellow Yorkie Makes the Forbes Europe “Top 30 Under 30” List

 

Natasha Ratanshi Stein ’09

Natasha, what did you do after you graduated from York House School?

I moved to London after graduating York House in pursuit of a BSc in Economic History from the London School of Economics (LSE). I graduated from the LSE in 2012 and then immediately started working in the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) division at Goldman Sachs in London, where I had interned during university. After spending two years at Goldman, I moved to venture capital to work for Piton Capital, a small fund where I was the third member of the investment team and I am still there.

What kind of student were you at YHS?

To be honest, I can’t say I was the greatest student for a while. I know my mom still keeps my report cards somewhere, and I think up until around the 10th grade I had pretty average grades (I even remember something in the 50s for band when I had too much trouble waking up for morning rehearsals and never handed in my practice sheets). The great thing about York House is because of the small class sizes, it helps you find your passion, and for me that was the humanities subjects, which I realized in my last couple years at York House. Once I found that passion, and I was at a grade where there was more flexibility around picking subjects, I started to do much better as I was super excited about what I was learning about. This meant I started spending a lot of my spare time reading about the topics I was studying at school, which in turn made me a better student

How did you initially enter the investment banking field? [NOTE: I’m not in investment banking anymore, but was until 2014]

I entered finance completely by accident. My York House teachers might remember I was too much of a Marxist for Wall Street during my time there. I had gone to LSE hoping to pursue a career in international development and save the world. Suffice it to say, after attending a few career sessions in those fields I became somewhat disillusioned with the bureaucracy and I was worried about the unclear paths for progression in those fields. A friend of mine invited me to join her at a career evening hosted by Slaughter & May, a law firm, to see if law was something that interested me. What I had learned was that it wasn’t the documentation and drafting of contracts that interested me, but the financial aspects such as establishing the value of both businesses, determining the synergies, and exploring financing options. Both my parents are entrepreneurs, and being able to work with entrepreneurs and operators at a critical time for their business was something that really excited me about investment banking. Having said that, within the two years I was at Goldman, I realized my heart was with earlier stage businesses, like the ones I had been exposed to at the dinner table growing up. I had worked on some technology transactions at Goldman, which fuelled my interest in venture capital. Being closer to the operations whilst still being able to use the skills I had developed at Goldman and working in an increasingly exciting and fast-moving industry are all components in my current job in venture capital that keep me very excited.

Describe a typical day in your current position?

In venture capital, our role is to identify early stage businesses that we think are in an interesting market and at some point can provide us with attractive financial returns. Piton Capital, where I work now, is one of the few extremely specialized venture capital funds in the world. We only invest in online businesses that benefit from network effects, which means the product or service improves as more people use it. The job varies enormously day to day, so it’s very hard to describe a typical day. I would say if I had to crudely break it up, I spend about 30% of my time in meetings with entrepreneurs who are pitching their businesses, 40% of my time analyzing companies and conducting diligence and 30% of my time managing our existing portfolio, where I help them with strategic advice, sit on their boards and act as an advisor for decisions such as recruitment, new market expansion, pricing etc. I am usually travelling around once a week, mostly across Europe as we invest actively in markets such as Germany, France, Poland, and the Nordics. We’ve also done deals in Egypt and Pakistan.

Do you see yourself staying in London or moving back to North America?

It’s very hard to answer this one and attempting to answer will either anger my parents or my current employers so I’ll decline to comment.

You were recently listed in the 2018 30 under 30 Forbes Europe – Finance List.  Tell us more about that experience?

It’s humbling to be recognized in a list which also includes Kendrick Lamar, my favourite rapper. When I’m home, I frequently drive around Vancouver blasting his song “Humble”, and the Forbes inclusion has reminded me to take the (explicit) advice in that song seriously. Life can be so hectic that it can be hard to take a step back and reflect on your achievements so being part of this list was a good opportunity to do that. More than anything, the outpouring of good wishes it triggered was a reminder of how many people have supported me and how grateful I am to them.

Will Brexit have any impact on your career path?

Brexit is destabilizing for both the UK economy and its social fabric. My career, along with many others, benefit from the diversity and talent that Britain has embraced over the last fifty years. The Brexit vote has brought to the surface many divisions in British society and has taught us that unfortunately, many of the benefits of being an open and tolerant nation seem to be at risk. From a career perspective, many of the UK’s top entrepreneurs are migrants, from the EU and elsewhere, and many British businesses have been built by the hard work of migrants. My fund invests across Europe with our most active market being Germany, so we are not directly impacted by Brexit in any major way. We are already starting to see new hubs of activity emerge in more European cities and Europeans move back to their countries of origin. While I think this will be detrimental to the UK, our flexibility around investing across Europe will still enable us to continue to invest in the most promising companies and back the best entrepreneurs. The UK faces a lot of uncertainty in the coming years, and it’s my hope that the voices calling for a more tolerant and open society don’t lose out to those seeking to divide.

Did any one person or teacher influence you at YHS?

Absolutely. It would be impossible to pin it down to one person. York House is a place that really enables it’s students to find their passion. When I found my passion, there were countless teachers who were there to make sure I was achieving my potential. Mr Cropley, who would do weekend cram sessions with us ahead of our AP European History exam and who I am still in close contact with for when I need to ensure my career doesn’t pull me away from my socialist roots. Ms. Irani, who was extremely supportive in helping me navigate the nuances of applying to a UK university. When LSE required 5s on five AP exams despite the fact I was only doing four AP classes, I dropped math in order to teach myself AP World History. LSE didn’t like that and informed me only two months before the math provincial I had to complete math. Thankfully Mrs. Massel was there to rescue me and taught me the entire Math 12 curriculum in two months. I would say one of the best classes at York House was Mr P’s AP Human Geo class which really opened my eyes to the functioning of society and how rap music conveys societal workings (maybe this is what inspired me to start taking Kendrick Lamar so literally!)

 

Psychiatry and a new book about sleep: all in a day’s work for Dr. Smita (Reebye) Naidoo ‘99

Smita (R) pictured with her friend and business partner, Andrea Bell.

You graduated in 1999. In terms of further studies, where did you go after York House?

After graduating, I went across the pond to Dublin, Ireland. I was there for seven years completing my medical degrees and internship training. It was an incredible time to be there as Ireland had just switched to the Euro currency as a member of the EU. A true snapshot for me of living through political and historical change.

Describe a typical working day at BC Children’s Hospital?

That’s a tough one, because there is no “typical” day. This is what drives me to working in the emergency department. I start my day checking in on the admitted patients with our entire team. We problem shoot, review medication and treatment. Most importantly, we make sure the families of the children admitted are consistently involved in the “loop of communication.” That is the only hour in my day, set in stone. The rest is dependent on who presents to the Emergency Department. We get paged across the Province and the Yukon by family doctors and paediatricians asking us for educational support on ethical or high risk situations.

You kindly came back to York House to speak to our students during Career Day a few years ago. What was that experience like?

I was so nervous! The hardest thing to do, is to inspire a group of intelligent and driven young women despite their personal experiences, cultural background, and passions. For me, speaking in front of adults, and other clinicians is the easier part of my work. Being able to look an an audience, and see why they took their time to listen to me, is definitely an art I am continuously working on. There is nothing more that matters to me then the mental health, and overall wellness of our youth. One thing that is on my bucket list, is to craft and deliver a speech to the graduates. Even better, maybe address the year one of my Yorkie nieces graduates (2025!).

Your new publication for kids is about the importance of sleep. How did this collaboration come about and tell us more about Polly & Pickles

Believe it or not, I met my business partner, now dear friend Andrea Bell, on a plane ride from LAX to YVR 30,000 feet above ground! We instantly matched and had a shared vision of creating children’s books with a meaning.

Within less than three months, Paper Clouds Project Ltd was born. We self-published our first book on sleep, which was just released this January 2018. We chose sleep as our first book because clinically this is the simplest way of altering the behaviour of a child and the environment of a home. Andrea was personally adjusting to having three children of different developmental ages and found that in the working-mom world, the value of sleep is under prioritized.

 Did anyone or any one experience inspire you at YHS to follow your dreams of being a psychiatrist and author?

Yes. Absolutely. Mr. B! It’s amazing the impact a few comments, experiences can influence us to the core, to our gene expression. Mr. B was like a father to me, when he was training us for track meets, and inspiring us to do more. I still remember when he was discussing muscle physiology and used me as an example. It touched me, because that authentic validation in front of my peers, truly set further ground work to a healthy self-esteem. Alongside my parents, and two older brothers, Mr. B certainly made me feel I had gifts to share with the world.

For members of our community with young children, provide three tips on how to get our kids to sleep smarter/better?

I have one word for you R.E.D.!

  • Routine! If you can make one change, create a cheat sheet for sleep with your child. Make two copies, one in the washroom, one in the bedroom. From the moment your child/youth enters home after a busy day at YHS, their routine begins! The misnomer is that if you have a “good bedtime routine” things should work out. Not true! Transitioning from a structured environment (i.e. school) to a semi/non-structured environment, sends signals to their brains making it more scattered, unsure, and even anxious. Ground a few things: homework time, dinner time, fun/social media time. This is the most beneficial and most sustainable gift you can give your child. This level of routine, trains your body clock (i.e. circadian rhythm) on when to release melatonin and other hormones promoting good sleep and brain growth.

 

  • Environment: Make sure the child’s bedroom does NOT have a desk for study. Associating a child’s room with anything but calm, is never a good idea. A desk, if used for study, then sub-consciously associates the room of stress, deadlines and at times, poorer self esteem. Keep it minimalistic, filled with meaningful objects for your child (not your own aesthetic pleasure). By doing this, you are giving your child the autonomy to create their sanctuary with some guidance. Due to limited space, busier lifestyles, our rooms are now multi-purpose. This is one room, you want (for the entire family) to only serve for one purpose alone…sleep/relaxation.

 

  • Distraction Devices: aka iPads/mobile phones! There may be many changes with technology, but one thing which has stayed consistent over the years, are the guidelines of screen time. No screen time two hours before bedtime for the entire family. The way to avoid the “power struggle”, ALL family members, give up their devices with the EARLIEST bedtime in the home. This then creates a uniform expectation and the child/youth no longer views this as a punishment or that they are “missing out” on something.

Annual Alumnae Trip East to Ontario and Quebec

Ita Kane-Wilson, Alumnae/Advancement Officer and Kimberley Harvey, Director of Senior School embarked on the annual alumnae trip to Ontario and Quebec to meet up with recent grads over dinner.

First stop was in Ottawa where they met with a small group of alums including Stephanie (Lang) Young ‘01, Helen Cassie ‘16 and Taneisha Dunham ‘15. Stephanie is expecting her second child, Helen is enjoying her 2nd year of university and Taneisha is considering a move into further studies in education. She has been working as a nanny outside of her university studies and loves children, so teaching is a natural career choice she says.

Montreal was bitterly cold but sunny, and the girls there were thrilled to be invited to dinner. A local Indian restaurant provided amazing service and all the girls left with paper bags full of leftovers. Part-time work and accommodation sources were exchanged between alumnae and everyone appreciated the opportunity to connect and trade stories. Brittne Potter from the Class of 2012 shared news about her involvement with the Centerfold Gallery. Located in Westmount, the Centerfold also provides an online marketplace for local artists.

It was snowing in Kingston, but that did not dampen the Yorkie spirit. The girls happily provided tips to Grade 12s on how to adjust to university life and the number 1 tip came from Hasti Pourriahi, Class of 2015: “ It’s not the end of the world, until it’s the end of the world!”.

Golnar Khosrowshahi from the Class of 1989 generously hosted the Toronto alumnae reunion at her lovely home and it was great to catch up with grads and let them know about latest alumnae-related developments at York House. Mercedes Fogarassy ‘13 shared her experience of having alumna Anna Baird ‘03 as her mentor and how it has really helped her with her career to date.

In London, chapter chair Skylar Gordon ‘14 kindly welcomed everyone to the reunion. She’s in her last year at the Ivey Business School and heading back to Vancouver in May to start a new job with a company in Richmond. She also talked about the benefits of signing up to the YHS Alumnae Mentorship Program, and how she’s enjoying many career conversations with her alumna mentor. Kira Hoff ‘14 and Caitlin Pitblado ‘14 also finish up at Ivey this year.

Shooting for the Stars: Geraldine Santiago ’83

Geraldine Santiago ’83 attended YHS from 1979-83 and was known as being energetic, fun-loving and a good friend. The middle daughter of four Santiago sisters that attended YHS, she was Vice Head-Girl, served as Class President twice and was House Member of the Year. Geraldine was also the recipient of several awards including the Senior Spirit Trophy, Parents’ Association Citizenship award, and the Joan Sorenson Memorial. Once she graduated, her interests turned to Asian Studies when she attended the University of British Columbia to obtain a degree in Mandarin. Always driven to succeed, Geraldine launched her career in real estate and became known for seminars targeted at first time home buyers. Over the past 16 years as a realtor, she has written three real estate reference books for Self-Counsel Press Ltd, entitled, “Complete Home-Buyer’s Guide for Canadians”, “Selling Your Home in Canada” and “Buy and Sell a Recreational Property in Canada”.

Geraldine is also an accomplished painter known for her use of bold colours in oil and acrylic. In addition to solo and group exhibitions in Vancouver, she has also been an Artist in Residence teaching acrylic painting to children from K-12. When Geraldine’s daughter, Luisa, was only five days old, she was rushed to the BC Children’s Hospital with a serious, potentially life threatening viral infection. Their skilled staff, nurses and doctors were able to provide critical services that resulted in her daughter’s full recovery. Geraldine’s desire to give back to these doctors and staff inspired her to use her creative talents to write and illustrate a children’s storybook.

Geraldine published, “Luisa and the Magic Star” in July, 2017, which celebrates Canadian space achievements in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary. Dr. Roberta Bondar, the first Canadian woman astronaut in space, who makes a cameo in the book, recently described the book as “delightful”. In true Yorkie style, the profits from the sale of the book are being donated to the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation and she is already working on a sequel, “The Star Thief.”

Geraldine with her daughter Luisa at her book signing at Chapters Indigo

Geraldine hopes that her storybook creates an interest in both science and music in children. In fact, the main character is based on her oldest daughter Luisa, who learned to play the violin at the age of five and is now enrolled in an engineering program at the University of British Columbia. Recognizing that, as early as elementary school, many of the science and space picture books for young readers are designed for boys, Geraldine is intentionally introducing strong, relatable, female characters in her books that break stereotypes and gender boundaries.

“When I graduated, I didn’t fully appreciate how much my high school years would influence and shape my life,” says Geraldine. “Over the years, I’ve come to recognize that York House provided me with a solid foundation and the confidence to grow in whatever direction I chose. I also developed a love of learning and self-improvement. As a mother, professional realtor, artist, and spouse, I will continue to grow, mature, and evolve,” remarked Geraldine, “I know that York House has given me the groundwork to flourish. Our school motto – Onwards and upward, not for ourselves alone – has always been my credo.”

Geraldine was delighted to visit York House School on November 2nd to read “Luisa and the Magic Star” and her new sequel, “The Star Thief” to the Grade 3 classes. After the reading, students asked lots of questions and took part in fun word rhyming activities. She hopes to inspire the next generation of children to embrace space and science through her cleverly written and beautifully illustrated books.

Register for Alumnae Day, Saturday, October 14th, 2017

Log in to myYHS to register for Alumnae Day

Speaker Bios:

Dianne Whelan ’83, Explorer, filmmaker, and author
Dr. Emel Zerrouk ’04, Personal Trainer and Martial Artist

This fall’s Alumnae Gallery exhibition is titled Topographies: Relationships with Landscape and Geography, and features work by five alumnae artists: Ruth MacLaurin ’60Patricia Hindmarch-Watson ’67Sally Clark ’71Nicole Steinbrecher ’06, and Brittne Potter ’12.

Log in to myYHS to register for Alumnae Day

How Yorkies Used to Celebrate Graduation

It’s that time of year – graduation, exams, bittersweet endings, fresh beginnings…

As we celebrate this year’s Grade 12s graduating and becoming alumnae, it’s fun to remember the old YHS tradition of the “last will and testament”. While we wouldn’t recommend that Yorkies do this today, it is quite amusing to recall that past Seniors celebrated their graduation with the ritual of gathering around the incinerator(!) in the lane beside the school, reciting a last will and testament, and burning everything from class notes to stockings and bloomers as they said goodbye to YHS and hello to the rest of their lives.

Congratulations to our newest alumnae, the class of 2017. We’re sure you’re going to set the world on fire!

Reading the “last will and testament”, ca. 1950s
Goodbye, old uniform! ca. 1950s
So long, class notes! ca. 1950s

Career Day at York House School

Alumnae Sharing Life Experiences and Career Journeys

Thirteen alumnae came back to York House on May 12th to participate in our annual Career Day. The day started with a panel discussion in the theatre where alumnae discussed life after high school, university, life challenges, and the roads less travelled. This was followed by break-out sessions in classrooms with the Grade 8-12 students where alums presented on their careers and shared their experiences and career journeys. Every year we have an amazing line up of presenters and this year was no different.

Natalee Sinclair MBA from the Class of 2006 is an insurance project manager with Jones Brown inc; Salima Remtulla CFA from the Class of 2000 is a finance executive with international experience directing corporate strategy and building high performance teams,  Zoe Alexander ‘02 is a graphic designer working with a tech start up, Taline Arslanyan ‘07, an inside Account Executive at Hootsuite Inc.; Pippa Morgan ’90, is the Executive Vice President, Retail Division of Aritzia, Jasmine Lam ’97 is a GP, a UBC Faculty of Medicine Clinical Instructor and on the Residency Admissions committee, Courtney Lam ’09 is a design assistant with Lululemon, Sarvenaz Amanat ‘97 is a visual artist, works as a museum educator at the Vancouver Art Gallery (2009-present) and is the Director of Gallery1515 in the South Granville gallery district of Vancouver.  Nicole Steinbrecher ‘06, a registered nurse who works on an acute medical/surgical ward at Vancouver General Hospital,  Rachelle Topham ‘10 is a business development representative who prospects new business for SAP in Vancouver; Robyn Wilson ‘05 is currently the Chief Operations Officer of Venue Kings Ticket Brokers, Inc. in Vancouver and recently named one of BC’s 30 Under 30,   Sarah Brayne ‘03 is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at The University of Texas at Austin and Jessica Smith ’10 is a midwifery student at UBC who came back to talk about her gap year experiences along with her sister Amelia ’15.

We are very grateful to our alumnae who took the time out of their day to return to YHS and share their stories with our students.