1. What college or university did you attend after SAAS (or what did you pursue instead?) What did you major in? Did you get other degrees?
I attended Emerson College in downtown Boston, a small liberal arts institution with a focus on media and the arts. I earned a B.A. in theatre performance, as well as minors in marketing and directing for the stage. I did a lot of theatre while I was there, as well as earning my screen actor's guild eligibility while I was still in undergrad, because Boston has a booming film scene.
I unexpectedly found myself very involved in the greek system (i.e. fraternities and sororities) as well, and served as both secretary and president of my fraternity. The rigorous honors program at Emerson was also crucial to my experience, keeping me challenged academically. My capstone project was a nearly 90-page thesis on correlations between the rise of communism and the artistic florescence in Russia during the early 20th century.
2. What unique experiences have you had since leaving SAAS? Trips, internships, jobs, etc.
If I had been told when I graduated SAAS that seven years later I would be an expert on wine and restaurant service, I would have had a difficult time believing it. I was completely straight-edge in highschool. I didn't drink at all until I was 21. Since SAAS, life has done nothing but reinforce the idea that, "...it's what happens while you're making plans."
After graduating undergrad, I moved immediately to New York to pursue an acting career. I performed in off-off Broaway shows, acted in some commercials, was called in for a soap opera, obtained a manager, and joined one of the premier companies for young actors, but, I didn't find the process (or lack of process, really) rewarding. Everything about why I loved acting (the development of a part and day-to-day discovery) was so absent in the do-it-now hustle of New York.
I had been working in restaurants to pay the bills and had decided that I wasn't going to suck at something I did for 40+ hours a week. I loved the energy and people-facing nature of bartending, which I did mostly in wine bars. I started to learn about service and slowly fell in love with wine. After taking a break from New York to work a 3-month harvest internship in Walla Walla, I decided to work in wine full time. Telling the stories of grape farmers and winemakers as well as continuing the tradition of wine as one of our planet's finest agricultural products was what I wanted to do.
Being a sommelier (what you call someone who serves wine in restaurants) synthesizes many of my interests: history, geography, science, language, agriculture, consumer culture, and performance. I get to look snazzy in a suit, make people happy, and not have to sit behind a desk all day. And you get to drink some crazy stuff from time to time. Last year, on a trip to Germany, I drank a Riesling from the 1893 vintage!
Because of wine, but also for my own curiosity, I've travelled extensively since college, going to France, Ireland, Iceland, Croatia, India, Norway, Argentina, South Africa, Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, Belgium, England, Columbia, and probably a few more countries I'm forgetting. Curiosity and the travel bug were definitely instilled in me at SAAS. This year I have Austria, Turkey, and potentially Chilé on the books.
3. What are your favorite memories from SAAS? What programs, teams, extracurriculars were you involved in while at SAAS? Who were your most influential teachers at SAAS?
Performance as well as the honors and outdoor programs were huge parts of my SAAS career. I was an Onion as well as doing at least one straight theatre show and the musical every year. I took Rob and Joe's honors english and history classes and view them as one of my most formative experiences. I went on the Alaska trip twice and a senior trip to Arizona and New Mexico, which really helped me to foster a sense of awe about the world. My relationship with my teachers was most crucial, though.
- Mark Hoover taught me how to to say yes and to focus on the importance of process.
- Rob Phillips taught me how to be critical, brave, and to always cultivate wonder.
- Joe Puggelli taught me how to communicate, how to write, how to be specific, and most of all reminds me daily that I am not nearly as smart as I think I am.
- Michael Cimino taught me how to love so much it hurts and to accept that life is often messy.
4. Where are you now and what do you do? Where do you see yourself in 10 years? How did SAAS help prepare you for your job today?
I don't know exactly where I'll be in 10 years. I just turned 30 and have been obsessed with the idea that my professional career will be longer than the whole time I've already been on Earth! I look forward to doing meaningful work that helps society and the planet, which will likely involve wine, but maybe something completely different. I'm ready to be surprised.
SAAS, besides allowing me to be my best self, really prepared me in terms of communications skills. The ability to "perform" and communicate with people in public speaking situations has been crucial to my career development. Furthermore, the ability to communicate clearly and concisely in writing has been invaluable.
Throughout much of my career at SAAS many of my teachers reinforced the idea that you have to try everything and walk through every door that opens. You need to be a participant in the world if you hope to get anything out of it. This idea underpinned my whole SAAS career. Say yes often and focus on finding fulfillment through challenge and personal growth. Never settle.