Who do our graduates become?  A professor of Japanese literature in Ann Arbor, a photographer in San Francisco, a banker in Bangkok, a deputy press attache at the U.S. Department of State, a Ph.D. in genetics right here in St. Louis—anything you can imagine. And the liberal-arts foundation they received at TJ has served them well beyond college and graduate school. Read on to learn more about some of the remarkable individuals who called TJ home. Visit the alumni site to reconnect with old friends. 

TJ now has a means to recognize the outstanding contributions and accomplishments of our alumni.  The Alumni of Distinction Award will honor alumni who have distinguished themselves through their careers, their service to their communities, and their commitment to TJ.  Click here to nominate an alumna/alumnus today!

TJ Alumni - do you have any news to share with us?  We would love to post stories and pictures about what you're doing!  Please email Kathleen Kelly, Director of Development, at kkelly@tjs.org with your information. 

Alumni 

 

Dr. Romsai Tony Boonyasai
Dr. Romsai Tony Boonyasai

Where did you go to college after TJ?

I went to Columbia University (Roar Lions Roar).

 

What do you do?

I am an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University.  

 

What I do varies:

  • Some days, I take care of patients in the hospital — those days I am like Mindy Lahiri from The Mindy Project.  
  • Some days, I supervise medical students, interns, and residents as they gain real-world experience taking care of patients — those days I am like Dr. Percy Cox from Scrubs.  
  • Some days I work with graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, helping them design and carry out their projects in Health Services Research — those days I'm like Yoda from The Empire Strikes Back.
  • Some days, I work with a far-flung team of PhDs, administrators, nurses, doctors, dietitians, pharmacists, etc. to carry out our own research projects — those days I'm like Lt. Colonel David Kilkullen, the anthropologist/soldier who helped General David Petraeus develop the counter-insurgency strategy.
  • Still other days, I'm holed up in my office writing papers or grants, so that we can keep our research projects going — those days I'm like the tortured writer Charlie Kaufman, as portrayed by Nicholas Cage in Adaptation.
  • And occasionally, I fly around the country to give presentations, teach or meet with collaborators from my projects — those days I'm like George Clooney's character Ryan Bingham from Up in the Air.

Confused by what I do for work?  Don't worry, so are my bosses.

 

For fun, I run, rock climb, read books (including some I never finished at TJ), watch TV (including shows I missed while at TJ), and hang out with friends and family.

 

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What do you love most about your work?

Occasionally — when everything goes right — I feel like I have made a difference.  

 

How did TJ help shape you as a person?

Growing up, I had a hard time fitting in with other kids public school. By nature I am an awkward introvert, so it used to take a long time for me to warm up to people and make friends. Boarding at TJ was like living with an extended family of 60 brothers, sisters and cousins.  It was a good place to come out of one's shell.

 

Also, I learned to understand math and to write well.  Just about everything I do in my job depends on being able to make sense of numbers and on being able to communicate effectively in writing.

 

Finish this sentence: I wish I had known that . . .

as we grew older, my parents and I would become friends.

Kate Stepleton, ’01
Kate Stepleton, ’01

Where did you go to college after TJ?
I went on to Barnard College in New York City, where I majored in Sociology. After that, I earned my Master of Social Work degree at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration.

What do you do?
Currently I am a doctoral student in the School of Social Work at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, studying mental health among children and youth involved with the child welfare system. After getting my MSW, I spent three years working for a social-policy think tank in Washington, DC, and another three years in the federal government. I decided to go back to school to learn the research skills I felt I needed to make a more substantial contribution in the social-policy arena.

What do you love most about your work?
Being a student again is a blast! Having worked in both the public and private sectors, I have a real appreciation for the luxury of learning. Reading, forming ideas, running analyses, and working with some of the best minds in child welfare research is a thrill.

 
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How did TJ help shape you as a person?

TJ gave me so much during my most formative years, and to this day, I draw on what I learned there. Academically and professionally, the discipline I established at TJ has consistently set me apart from my peers and enabled me to achieve a great deal. Personally, having the opportunity to shine — in the classroom and on the soccer field — gave me confidence that it might have taken longer to find had I been in a different, more crowded environment. Finally, TJ has given me some of my closest friends.

 

Finish this sentence: I wish I had known that . . .
all that Outside Reading [TJ's daily writing exercise for English class], all six years of it—including breaks!—was going to make me a better writer than almost anyone I've known (excepting those who went to TJ too, of course) and give me a tremendous professional advantage.

Alisa Tang
Alisa Tang

Where did you go to college after TJ?

I went to Columbia University in New York City.

 

What do you do?

I am a Bangkok-based mother, wife, bicyclist and editor for the Thomson Reuters Foundation (trust.org), which is the humanitarian news arm of Reuters. For the foundation, I mostly edit news - on issues including natural disasters, corruption, women's rights, poverty, climate change and human rights - from correspondents in the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia. I also report stories from Southeast Asia.

 

What do you love most about your work?

As a journalist, I love each day looking for and listening to people who are having a hard time, for whatever reason, and sharing their stories in an effort to help them. My "listening" may be literal, me traveling to impoverished corners of the world and sitting with people as they cry, or vicarious, through my colleagues as I edit their stories from South Sudan, Myanmar, Colombia and elsewhere.

 

 

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How did TJ help shape you as a person?

Greek, Latin, and hours, days and years sitting with friends fumbling through homework and O.R. created my foundation for learning and analyzing - thereby shaping how I perceive and interact with the world. TJ has pushed me to seek out the freaks, geeks and downtrodden, lend them a compassionate ear, and tell them that I am one of them.

 

Finish this sentence: I wish I had known . . . earlier that by living as simply as possible, I can focus on living fully; that following my heart is the path to happiness; and that when we are told to think outside the box, we are truly enlightened when we realize there is no box. 

Kathy Gilsinan
Kathy Gilsinan

Where did you go to college after TJ?

My dream school, Columbia University in New York City.

 

What do you do?

I am a writer and editor at an international affairs publication called World Politics Review, based in Brooklyn, New York.

 

What do you love most about your work?

I have two answers to this: a geeky one and a people-person one. Geeky first: I love rearranging sentences, and especially that moment where you find the exact right word that says precisely what you want to say. (Ironically, there is no really good English word for what the French call the "mot juste.") The people-person answer is that when I'm writing about world events such as the war in Afghanistan, I often get to call up experts or policymakers I would never have an excuse to talk to otherwise and ask them any question I want to. Reporting can be like attending a fascinating seminar that's just for you.

 

How did TJ help shape you as a person?

TJ shaped me in many ways that I'm still discovering 12 years (!!) after graduation. Probably the most important in my life and work is that TJ relentlessly hammered into me the importance of precision in language. This does not sound like an "as a person" epiphany, but there's a feedback loop between clear writing and clear thinking. It may seem obvious that you need to think clearly to write clearly, but often, writing down what started as a vague idea imposes logic and structure on your own unruly thoughts and helps you make sense of yourself and your opinions.

 

Finish this sentence: I wish I had known that . . .

There is life after TJ. The occasional academic or social crisis I faced there seemed magnified to world-ending proportions relative to the size of the community, but I wish I had known that there are almost no situations that are better handled by freaking out than by staying level-headed, maintaining perspective, and treating people with respect (including teachers, who I wish I'd known were people!). Of course, that's the kind of thing that's impossible to know in high school, like the old saying that experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

 

Emily Wang
Emily Wang

Where did you go to college after TJ?

Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT

 

What do you do?

I'm a PhD student in Slavic Languages and Literatures at Princeton -- so I'm teaching, and writing my dissertation.

 

What do you love most about your work?

I love that I get to do both those things, that there are introverted and extroverted sides to what I'm doing. There are also a lot of chances to travel for research or conferences. Plus, I get paid to read!

 

How did TJ help shape you as a person?

There are a lot of answers to that question, but one important one is that I first encounter Russian literature (through The Brothers Karamazov) at TJ! More generally, TJ was the place where I first learned to read the way I read now. Before I came, I loved reading, but hated English class.

 

Finish this sentence: I wish I had known that . . .

 Russian is easier than Greek!

 

Henry Agbo
Henry Agbo

Where did you go to college after TJ?

Harvard University

 

What do you do?

Business Analyst for commercial property company called Value Retail Plc. We own and operate luxury outlet malls across Europe and China.

 

What do you love most about your work?

The most exciting part of my work is getting to work closely with the chairman, a brilliant entrepreneur who in addition to running Value Retail Plc also owns The Empire State Building. I also love meeting with premium and luxury brands to discuss new store openings.

 

How did TJ help shape you as a person?

TJ taught me how to think critically about everything, which allows me to proactively tackle any challenges that may arise in work and constantly question how we can refine processes or tools to make them better.

 

Finish this sentence: I wish I had known that . . .

passion matters more than anything else. I guess it's never too late to learn that lesson!

 

 

 

The true measure of a school’s greatness can be found in the achievements of its alumni. Thomas Jefferson School (TJ) established the Alumni of Distinction Award to bestow this honor upon alumni who have distinguished themselves through their careers, their service to their communities, and their commitment to TJ.

The Alumni of Distinction honor recognizes just one of hundreds of alumni who have made significant contributions to society, and whose accomplishments, affiliations, and careers have honored the legacy of ἀρετή at Thomas Jefferson School. This honor illustrates the profound connection between one's academic experience at TJ and one's pursuit of excellence over the course of a lifetime.  

 

Criteria:

  • The award is presented to a TJ alumnus or alumna who demonstrates either in their career, service to community, or commitment to TJ the spirit of ἀρετή, the search for human excellence.

  • Nominees must have graduated from Thomas Jefferson School.

  • Current trustees and faculty/staff may not be considered for the award.

  • The finalist must agree to attend graduation—and must be present during the ceremony—to receive their award.

  • Nominations may be made by anyone except the nominee.

  • Submit nominations using the online form on the right or by downloading the Alumni of Distinction Award Nomination Form.

 

Award Process:

The selection of the recipient is made by the Advancement Committee and approved by the Board of Trustees. The award recipient and nominators will be notified upon selection, and the recipient will be recognized at graduation.

 

The record of all nominees shall be maintained in a carry-over file and considered for a previous year.