Leading the Way
Set for Success
How the leading edge education at BSS prepares girls for university and beyond
Every student who graduates from BSS is on a path to success. The form in which she achieves it, however, differs for each student. She may graduate with a drive to conquer the stage or with self-confidence to dominate the tech industry. Whatever path she chooses, each BSS alumna is armed with the tools to help her thrive at university and beyond.
Leading edge classes, enriched clubs, and innovative teaching methods lead more and more BSS alumnae to feel comfortable tackling their next steps – be they one of thousands on a university campus or the head of a software consortium. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by obstacles, BSS graduates are well prepared to face them head on and succeed in whatever they do.
Take alumna Lauren ADOLPHE ’15, for example. Currently enrolled in Engineering Science at the University of Toronto, Ms. Adolphe is specializing in Robotics Engineering, a highly competitive and demanding field. While many balk at the immense workload involved in such a dedicated program, Ms. Adolphe felt well prepared for this chapter of her academic career. Thus far, Ms. Adolphe has embarked on her professional career by working with successful fintech tech startup Hubdoc, global consulting firm Deloitte Digital, and is currently working at Tesla in Palo Alto, as an Engineering Intern for her Professional Experience Year Co-op.
Joining in Junior Kindergarten, Ms. Adolphe spent her school career at BSS, culminating in her being awarded the Governor General’s Medal upon graduation. Through the years, she embraced opportunities to pursue everything from sports to music to math. Behind every success and failure were supportive teachers and enthusiastic peers. “The focus was on learning and developing resilience by constantly challenging yourself, with the support of a great team,” she says.
An avid fan of math and science, Ms. Adolphe’s teachers, including Carly Ziniuk, encouraged her to push herself by joining extracurricular clubs like VEX Robotics and Science and Math Olympics. Each one involved numerous external competitions that challenged her to think differently and employ creative problem solving. “Through these clubs, teachers helped me appreciate my strengths and realize that Engineering Science was an exciting option that I could pursue beyond BSS.”
The clubs also taught Ms. Adolphe the importance of maintaining balance. “Having balance in university is key and that was something I took away from high school,” she explains. “To be your most productive and realize your full potential, in my experience, it’s important to get involved with other endeavours beyond the classroom.” Armed with the organizational and time management skills she developed at BSS, Ms. Adolphe was confident in her abilities to become a member of U of T’s Aerospace and Varsity Rowing teams while at university. She also regularly participates in hackathons, most notably achieving 1st Place in McKinsey’s Open Data Challenge and 2nd Place at RBC’s Next Great Innovator Hackathon.
Most dear to Ms. Adolphe’s heart were the BSS design technology labs, which she credits for moulding her into an inquisitive and innovative robotics student. From a young age, Ms. Adolphe was encouraged to create and build anything she could imagine. “Looking back, I think one of the coolest things, that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time, was having a design technology lab in the Junior School,” she says. “I really enjoyed that without even knowing I was getting involved in technology. Learning through hands-on experimentation makes it so much more impactful. Not only do you find it more interesting, but you also retain more information. As such, it really gets students more engaged and intrigued.”
In high school, Ms. Adolphe noticed there was a lack of science-based extracurriculars being offered at the school. In collaboration with a classmate and science teacher Genny Lee, she created a student-led STEAM Team. “Through a variety of hands-on activities and experiments, we demonstrated and explored many fascinating and innovative applications of STEAM in our lives,” she explains. They performed chemistry-based experiments and saw pumpkins explode, created fractal snowflakes using math and computers, and made a robotic painting printer. “STEAM is a very important and rapidly growing field. Gaining exposure to areas of it early on sparks students’ curiosity, thereby inspiring girls to discover and pursue interests in these disciplines,” she emphasizes.
Alumna Lauren HASEGAWA Lake ’09 also credits BSS teachers and extracurricular clubs for leading her towards a successful career in STEM. She is now the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Bridgit, a software company designed to make the construction industry less complicated. Since just before its launch in 2015, Bridgit has received impressive recognition, beginning with the Canadian Innovation Exchange (CIX) Top 20 in 2014. In 2015 the company earned Ms. Lake and her business partner Techvibes’ Entrepreneur of the Year and was named a Google Demo Day Winner and BNN Top Disruptor. Most recently, Ms. Lake and her business partner were recognized by Forbes 30 under 30 for 2019.
“[BSS] broadened my horizons and the effect of that cannot be overestimated. It opened my mind to new opportunities and taught me to raise the bar and dream bigger.”
BSS taught her to work hard and feel confident in her abilities. “I found it to be a challenging academic setting where teachers pushed students hard,” she says. “I was pushed to a level I hadn’t experienced before. Although it was difficult, it allowed me to build up my confidence and go into engineering, where the course load is very demanding.”
Ms. Lake credits the robotics team and Sarah Dwyer, the physics teacher who encouraged her to join it, with helping her determine this career path. “It was an amazing opportunity,” she says of competing with the award-winning team. To aid the girls, staff arranged for first-year University of Toronto engineering students to come in as mentors. Prior to that, she says, “I had never pictured myself as an engineer.”
Another bonus of her time at the school, Ms. Lake says, was access to advanced technology. “BSS was definitely ahead of its time with its access to leading-edge science and technology – like having its own robotics team and a 3D printer,” she explains. “In Grade 11 physics class we were designing in 3D software and printing our creations on the 3D printer. This was the type of technology you would see at an engineering school in university, and we had access to it as high school students.”
Overall, Ms. Lake explains, “[BSS] broadened my horizons and the effect of that cannot be overestimated. It opened my mind to new opportunities and taught me to raise the bar and dream bigger. I also learned to develop the tools and confidence to know I could tackle a challenge and get myself from point A to point B. Learning all of this set me on a path to taking bigger risks and seizing opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise.”
The best part about being a BSS alumna? When things get hard – be it in university or the working world – you have full access to the invaluable tools that will help you find the perseverance, confidence, and grit necessary to keep going and, ultimately, to succeed.
Shandley McMurray ’95 is a freelance writer, editor and health and children’s book author based in Westport, CT.