“Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions” — and Other Life Lessons

Thursday, February 7th, 2019

Today we visited Northrop Grumman, where we got to experience the different types of technologies and solutions they develop. Northrop Grumman is an defense/cyber security/aerospace company. They had various projects on display. An interesting example was the James Webb Space Telescope which is infrared and set to launch in 2021. When launched, they hope to study and observe 50 billion years in the past. I was confused and shocked that technology can one day look into the past.

After, we had the opportunity to ask women working at Northrop Grumman about their careers. They explained how having a growth mindset can help you succeed in anything. I think that struck me was what one of the panelists said: “If you come in everyday and earn A’s, but don’t ask questions, then you are not seeping in the information; you’re only trying to pass the information.” She stressed that curiosity is key; don’t be afraid to ask questions. “Ask for what you want; not everyone is going to say no.” It’s hard to wrap my head around questions. I like to solve problems myself instead. This really changed my mindset and gave me the inspiration to start asking more questions.

After the panel, I got the chance to talk with several women. We chatted about what we wanted to be when we grow up and about the fields of engineering. One explained how she started with a major in psychology and changed course. Another told me what she has done with Northrup Grumman, from traveling to Japan, Italy, and even Australia. Our time ended on this note that will always stick in my head: “Do what you like… you want to wake up excited for the job you pursue.”

— Elikem K. ’21


YSOP Service Trip: Last Day :(

On our last day of service, my group went to Food and Friends. Food and Friends is an organization that packages meals for people who have special dietary restrictions because of illnesses. While there, Maddie J. ’22, Paige C. ’22, Camilla H. ’22, Mrs. Ross, and I packed food meals into other bags along with certain nutritional supplements needed by specific individuals. It was great behind-the-scenes work.

— Georgia R. ’22


During the last day of our service trip, the Purple Group (Lauren, Victoria, Ava, Hayden, Mr. Scharfenberg, and I) went to Interfaith Works Clothing Center. Interfaith Works Clothing Center is an organization which provides clothing and home goods to low income families. We unpacked over 100 bags of donated clothes and picked out clothes that were in good condition.

— Hako I. ’21

Trailblazers and Lessons on Values-Based Leadership

Wednesday, February 6

We woke up early this morning and took a cab to Wall Street. Laurinda Clemente (mom of Amanda ’19) was able to get us on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Representatives from Stella Artois rung the opening bell, and the CEO from Spotify was also on the floor to discuss their podcast acquisition. While on the NYSE floor, we noticed that we only saw men working on the floor. However, to our surprise, we met an incredible women trailblazer, Stacey Cunningham, the first female president of the New York Stock Exchange (after 226 years of existence). It was amazing to see a woman serving in such a powerful role amongst the male-dominated financial district. On our way out, we walked past Peyton Manning, the former quarterback of the Denver Broncos, which was also very exciting!

— Amanda C. ’19 and McKenna O. ’21

After visiting the New York Stock Exchange and meeting the incredible Stacey Cunningham, we headed for Hackettstown, NJ. We arrived at the Mars Confectionery Plant and as soon as the door opened on our monstrous van, the smell of chocolate greeted us. As we were unloading and chattering excitedly about the impending chocolate comas, we were honored with the presence of Victoria Mars, Chairman of the company and a Foxcroft alumna from the Class of 1974. She was a fascinating woman who joined us on our tour, and dressed up with us in our lab coats and helmets (required to prevent any contamination) as we embarked on our plant tour. Mars beared a remarkable similarity to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory — the massive vats mixing the chocolate were like the chocolate river. It looked delicious! The plant was fascinating as our brilliant tour guides, two chemical engineers, led us around and showed us the complicated process of producing the m&ms we see everyday.

While I avoided death and chose to not sample the peanut M&M’s throughout the tour (I’m allergic), the members of my group raved about them and claimed that they were even better than the packaged ones!! The company was incredibly dedicated to their work. Throughout our tour, we saw their values and goals posted to remind everyone what they were striving for.

Later on, Ms. Mars spoke to us about her life at the company and the experiences that inspired her leadership. She started out in the company at a young age sorting through M&M’s and discarding the broken ones. This led her to realize her guiding principles which have created an incredibly collaborative working environment and positive community. Ms. Mars was incredibly humble and down to earth, despite her immense success, something that seemed to be a common trait among the wonderful alumnae we met on our whole trip. Meeting some of the Foxcroft alumnae on the trip was an incredible experience. Their dedication and hard work, which all led up to the careers that they loved and great personal success, was exceptionally inspiring.

We enjoyed a very interactive panel with many of the women in high leadership positions who were all very interesting. All of these women loved their jobs, I found it fascinating that each of these women came from very diverse backgrounds and each had different goals in life, yet they all somehow ended up in a career they never expected, and were all very happy and passionate about their work. They really advocated for taking advantage of all opportunities and trying new things, even if we are not sure if we want to do that. Even if you didn’t enjoy it, experience is everything and can be instrumental in the future. A common theme among the women we met with on the trip was that paths are not always straight and the overwhelming majority of them found themselves living a much different life then they previously thought.

The women we met with, and especially the ones at Mars, feel that within their careers they are really making a difference and helping people. The panel was amazing and all of the women shared their unique opinions and insights on navigating bias, failure, and the path to success. Most of us ended the discussion on a sugar high as well as an inspirational high!

As we were waiting for the rental cars after the panel, we went outside and took pictures with the massive M&M’s. The wonderful Mars company and brilliant women employed there left us with new perspectives and ideas that will certainly be influential to our futures, and have most definitely changed my outlook.

— Claire H. ’21


YSOP Service Trip: Day 3

Today has been my favorite day so far! We were split into two teams again and my team went to Martha’s Table. We cut enough vegetables and potatoes to feed 500 people!

Working in the kitchen!

It was very cool how such a small kitchen could make such a big meal for hundreds of people to eat.

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Victoria V. ’20 and Mrs. Ross preparing dinner

When we got back to the church where we are staying, we started to prepare a meal for anyone in the community who needed or wanted one. We made shepherd’s pie, stir fry, and biscuits and gravy, and had brownies and ice cream for dessert.

After we made the dinner, we had the privilege of playing games with our 23 guests and then serving them dinner and eating with them. It was such a great experience interacting with the amazing people and listening to their stories.

— Lauren S. ’20

YSOP Service Trip: Day 3 (Capital Area Food Bank)

On the third day of our YSOP service trip, we went to the Capital Area Food Bank. As soon as we got in, we were given a warm welcome — everyone was really happy to see volunteers. We were taken to a warehouse where there was a lot of food, big piles and huge boxes of food. Work was divided into three different areas: making boxes, unpacking/repacking in the new boxes, and closing the boxes. It was a really fun experience since everyone had something to do at any time, and we worked there for four hours non-stop.

While we were working, a big group of people with special needs who came in as volunteers started working in areas similar as ours. That was really inspiring and fulfilling to all of us since we could see that there is no excuse to help those in need even if you are a person in need.

When we were finished with our jobs, everyone was really tired but at the same time extremely happy and satisfied for all the work we had done. All the staff were really grateful for having us. They told us that the amount of worked that we accomplished was really impressive, and that our work that day really made everything easier. When we were leaving it was lunch time, so we saw a lot of people eating and it made us see how our work actually affected other people.

— Victoria V. ’20

The “Gift” of Networking with Women Leaders

Tuesday, we went to Acquavella, a private art gallery with a collection of famous artists such as Picasso, Monet, Matisse, Degas, and Chagall, as well as other contemporary artists. Some of the most outstanding pieces were small models of Phoenix statues, a white plastered canvas that utilizes depth and captured our attention, and Chagall’s depiction of himself living in fear during World War II. We learned from Emily Crowley (whose mom went to Foxcroft) about some of the skills that it takes to run a successful gallery. In addition, we learned about different avenues of jobs that are found in the art world such as security, transportation, insurance, restoration, and more.

We went to Fidelity for lunch, where four women spoke to us about their journey as women in business. We discussed some of their greatest challenges and how they overcame them. We learned that having an open mindset and being ready to learn and improve is the key to success. Alumna and Treasurer of Foxcroft’s Board of Trustees Kate Hastings ’78, who we visited with, said that “the day we stop learning is the day we die,” so as young women it is key for us to continue asking questions.

Our speakers shared that the hardest parts of our career paths can be transitioning from one area to another, whether it is when we get our first real job or find ourselves ready to move onto a different path later on. A common strength I found among these women is their source of motivation towards success — doing well for the world and being good people. Some of their most treasured memories include volunteering to paint a local school or to help clean Central Park. I found that the women have made decisions that best align with their morals, which has allowed them to excel. After each pitch to a client, Kate Hastings and her coworkers have a conversation where they give each other a “gift,” a piece of constructive criticism, to help improve the performance of the team the next time. She has noticed a large difference since she implemented the tactic.

The women not only want to succeed themselves, but they want to see others do as well. By giving their coworkers “gifts,” they give them tools that they can use to improve. In addition, we gathered that our interests might change, but no matter what, we must give it our all.

In the afternoon we had time to walk around the city. Some of us went to Central Park while others explored stores and went to the MoMA.

This evening we saw the broadway show Wicked, which was amazing. All of the performers were so talented.

— Alex V. ’19

YSOP Service Trip: Day 2

Day two of our service trip has been very enlightening. We began the day with an early start. At 7:45am, we met our team leaders and they gave us the plan for the rest of the week.

The night before, we had split up into two groups — one with Mrs. Ross and one with Mr. Scharfenberg. One group went to the charity A Wider Circle, which helps provide families with their basic needs like clothing and furniture. The other group went to So Others Might Eat (SOME). Both took public transportation which helped us understand the daily lives of the people that we were helping even more.

Our group at SOME

Each group had very interesting experiences that we learned from. The group that went to A Wider Circle sorted clothes and linens, and helped people load up their cars with the furniture they chose. The group that went to SOME did a wide range of things. Some poured coffee while others plated food or cleaned up.

Barack Obama visited SOME in 2010.

The people who we helped made a huge impression on us. They helped us realize that we could be in the same position as them, and it is imperative that we treat them with the same dignity and respect we would treat our friends with. Everybody was so kind and the experience was amazing. We were all very tired when we got home, and all that was left before bed was TACOS!

— Hayden E. ’21