Northwest Catholic has always welcomed back alumni as guest speakers. Graduates have conducted master classes in their fields as well as given classroom demonstrations in everything from physics to poetry. They’ve shared their experiences at Advancement dinners, Honors Breakfasts, and various luncheons throughout the year. But this fall, under the direction of Beth Casey Boyle, a 1996 graduate and Director of the new Alumni LEADS program, many more graduates are finding their way back to the hallowed halls of Northwest Catholic and sharing their experiences with current students.
The first guest in the new Alumni LEADS Conversations was Elizabeth Carpenter Brantley, a 1996 graduate and an eighteen year veteran of Travelers Insurance. Students gathered during the school’s open advisory period to hear Brantley talk about her path to Loyola University, Maryland, then into a career that carried her to the West Coast, to the Southeast, then back to Hartford.
After graduating from Loyola, Brantley set out to find a job in California. She called on a contact she had met through her high school job and landed a position at Travelers in San Fransisco. She spoke fondly of her work as a claims representative and how much she enjoyed helping others. Some might not see claims as service-oriented, but Brantley explained to her young listeners how helping people who have been hurt at work was very satisfying. She spoke of the importance of empathy and compassion. Sometimes those injured needed modifications in their homes. Other families needed support when their loved ones were killed. The work was full of purpose and it was where her roots at Travelers were planted.
Brantley went on to talk about moving into different roles within the company and spent some time reflecting on her position as an office manager. She had her audience chuckling when she said an office manager must take care of everything from finding paper to investigating curious odors.
After Brantley shared stories of her circuitous route to the home office in Hartford, she said, “Beth didn’t pay me to say this, but so many things that have helped me be successful I learned at Northwest.”
Brantley said it was at Northwest where she learned how to speak her mind without arrogance and without diminishing someone else’s point of view. She said she learned how to invite others to challenge her. At Northwest she learned how to defend her position and communicate her ideas clearly. Brantley believes it was the small classes where rich discussion was welcomed that trained her for healthy dialogue that has been instrumental in her career. She pointed at her time in HILL, the school’s Honors Institute for Leadership and Life, with special fondness.
Throughout the conversation, Brantley kept returning to her message about the value of communication. She said connecting with others, listening to others, getting along with others are all keys to success.
Perhaps Brantley’s most important lesson for the students centered on work-life balance. High school students are encouraged to work hard and pursue rewarding careers, but the one job most of them will have is rarely discussed in a high school classroom — parenting. Brantley didn’t shy away from this topic. She talked about the challenges of balancing family and career. She admitted to the students, “I never want my children to be a casualty of my career.” What that means for Brantley is to show her worth at work, always deliver on her promises, all the while making her children her first priority.
The new Alumni LEADS Conversations are sure to take off at Northwest Catholic. The school enjoys a long and proud history of alumni connections — ask any Northwest graduate you know. If you are a Northwest Catholic graduate and would like to know how you might contribute to this initiative, please contact Beth Casey Boyle at email@example.com.