Alumna Alex Verheecke Finds Her Voice Through Teaching

Last month we introduced you to Marie Angeles, a Summer Search Seattle alumna who is working to ensure college campuses are inclusive and supportive places for all students. This month, we connected with Bay Area alumna Alex Verheecke who is working on a similar goal, but for her high school students in Northern California.

AlexSummer Search Bay Area alumna Alex Verheecke.

“San Rafael High School (SRHS) is working with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to train students, teachers, and parents to prevent and stop bias and discrimination in our community,” Alex explains. “Our school brought ADL in to train our student leaders to be the ambassadors of ADL’s ‘No Place for Hate’ initiative. It’s a fantastic program and our students learned a lot from it.”

SRHS StudentsSan Rafael High School students and teachers at a ‘No Place for Hate’ workshop.

Alex’s passion for supporting her students and the SRHS community is reflected in her schedule: she teaches Social Studies, World History, Leadership, and AVID, a program designed to improve college readiness for all students, especially those traditionally underrepresented in higher education. It’s hard to believe that this is just her second year teaching! Oh, and in addition to a full load of classes, she also coaches the Cross Country team.

Also, for the second straight year, Alex is working with fellow Summer Search alum and SRHS teacher Lee Chretien as the SRHS referral partners to Summer Search. This means helping interested sophomores prepare for the nomination process to apply for Summer Search. Alex says, “It’s very special to be able to give back to and support Summer Search students at my school.”

Alex came to the teaching profession via an interesting route. Though education was something she was passionate about, she took a different path while studying at Oberlin College, deciding to major in Economics and go into the finance industry.

“I was an intern at Hall Capital in college (thanks to Summer Search!) and then went on to work there for five years after graduating. I did another stint at a small investment bank when I realized that social justice didn’t just have to be my personal interest, that it could be my career, too.”

So, Alex went back to school and earned her Master’s Degree in teaching from the USC Rossier School of Education and added a secondary credential in Social Studies.

Now, she is exactly where she wants to be. As she puts it, “Working with students in a school is the hardest, most fulfilling work I’ve ever done. I feel like I’ve found my true voice in teaching and it’s a really incredible feeling.”

DHyMH-gVwAAOZR3Alex with a colleague, excited to be working on the SRHS campus.

Alex is not only dedicated to her SRHS community, but she remains strongly connected to Summer Search by attending events, giving back, and volunteering with the Bay Area Alumni Board, which Alex was the chair of from 2014 – 2016.

“Summer Search has been there all along; helping me get my first job and internship, then providing me with leadership opportunities to grow outside of work through the Alumni Board.”

Seth_and_Alumni_SF_25thAlumni and staff gathering at the 2015 San Francisco Gala. From left to right: Katherine Kennedy, Alex Verheecke, Shirley Duong, Seth James Ellis, Sasha Kovriga, Niles Lichtenstein, Carlton Colbert.

Alex continued, crediting the personal connections she formed at Summer Search as one of the inspirations for her career and life:

“It has been the relationships I’ve had and kept over the years with [staff members] Cristina, Seth, and [Summer Search founder] Linda, as well as so many others that have helped me find perspective and remind me of my values when making these big career changes. I am so grateful for those individuals and for an organization that is so committed to helping young people grow throughout their lives and into adulthood. It is inspiring and has led me to in turn give that kind of commitment to my students.”

We’re proud of the many Summer Search alumni who are working in education and are teaching younger generations to become leaders. And we’re especially proud of our students and alumni who are paying it forward and giving back to those most in need. Thank you, Alex, for providing hope and light in our communities!

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