No one could have known that the last normal day of school for 2019-2020 would have fallen on Career Day. On March 11, Ursuline closed and has remain closed through to the end of the school year. With the last day of in-person school being a special event, Career Day 2020 serves as an effective time marker to cherish and remember the everyday normalcy of going to Ursuline.
Career Day has always been a prime example of Ursuline sisterhood, with alumnae returning to their alma mater to connect with the current classes. For years, from notable alumna Melinda Gates’s days as a student to her own giving of a career presentation, Career Day continues to be a special Ursuline event where the alumnae share about their career journeys. Experts from every field possible, including anesthesiology, graphic design and law both inspire and inform students with their experiences and passion for their work.
Talking to Claire Webb ’97, Director of Alumnae, Parent and Community Programs, about the many months of preparation prior to the long-awaited biennial event, Webb shared that she and her office oversee the production of Career Day with the help of two Alumnae Board members, Apryl Dominguez Churchill ’91, mother of Chamberlain Churchill ’23, and Shannon Long ’04 plus one event coordinator, Jada Stotts.
Webb said, “Together we vetted through the applications and paired the speakers together to ensure speakers within the same industry or with relevant experiences got to share their different perspectives.”
Overseeing the pairing of speakers is probably the most time-intensive aspect of the day because it can be difficult to find the right pairings that will be most beneficial to students and show them enough variety within that field of work. Variety shows students that not all attorneys, doctors and people within other professions do the same work. Webb’s team spent three to four full months putting the day together to ensure it would be a great experience for the students, teachers and presenters.
The goal of Career Day is to give students the opportunity to preview careers that interest them so that when they graduate, they have a better understanding of what they want to do and what they need to do to get there. The panel has heard dozens of stories from alumnae who met their mentor, discovered their career path or even got a job from Career Day.
If Career Day is so beneficial for students, why is the event held every other year instead of annually? Over the years, the school decided it would be beneficial to add STEM Day and Humanities Day to spend those two days focusing on careers within those areas.
The individuals in charge of Career Day when looking at the rotation of these three events, thought it would be appropriate for students to experience two Career Days, one STEM Day, and one Humanities Day during their four years at Ursuline. Career Day encompasses all careers, but it is also important to have a day that focuses on STEM and another day on Humanities as well.
Career Day took place on March 10. Here are just four of Ursuline’s esteemed and accomplished alumnae who presented that day:
Rita Saynhalath is a pediatric anesthesiologist. She takes care of patients from birth until 18 years of age or older who come to the hospital for procedures or surgeries. Dr. Saynhalath takes care of sedation or general anesthesia, managing pain and waking up patients at the end of surgery.
When asked about what drew her to anesthesiology, she said, “I enjoy the constant thinking that is required in the operating room to ensure that the patient remains stable and using my hands for procedures such as intubations and vascular access. I also love the collegiality with surgeons from different subspecialties and the opportunity to learn about different organ systems when I am working with them because it makes me a more well-rounded physician.”
Her favorite part of the job is seeing the look on a child’s face and the relief on his or her parents’ faces in the recovery room. Constantly on call, outsiders to the medical industry may expect a hectic yet lifeless routine. However, Dr. Saynhalath said that her amazing family, including her siblings, parents and husband have supported her with her dream.
Kate Kilanowski is a real estate and commercial litigation lawyer. She was featured on Texas Monthly’s Annual List of Top Women Lawyers in 2019. Surprisingly, her path to becoming a top lawyer was not clear-cut. In high school, Kilanowski first wanted to major in engineering, but life steered her into health law instead. After Hurricane Katrina, she became a real estate lawyer. Kilanowski enjoys the problem-solving aspect, fast pace, competitive litigation and portability of her work.
Sarah Campbell Erickson is a graphic designer, illustrator and founder of Sarah Ann Design. Graphic design is the art of visual communication through typography and imagery. Several types of graphic design include brand design, typography, environmental design and creative advertising.
The main portion of Erickson’s work includes logo and website design for small businesses. While at Ursuline, Erickson enjoyed drawing and painting. She said, “I always loved creating art in high school. And when I was in your shoes, I had no idea that my current job could even be a well-paying job.”
Erickson first started off by designing wedding stationery, working as a marketing director, an accountant and even a content writer. Her favorite part of working as a graphic designer is the total creative freedom. “I get to do whatever I want to do, and if something’s not working for me, I can switch gears,” said Erickson.
Rozanne Mulenex is the vice president of Children’s Health Services and helped to design a new device for carpal tunnel syndrome, which is caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist. She attended the University of Vermont intending to major in engineering. But once she had her daughter, she decided to pursue a different path which led her to healthcare. When asked about her passion for her career, Mulenex said, “Although the U.S. Healthcare system is an extremely complex system, you [can] solve problems in healthcare by working in a program for chronic children’s diseases, ensuring that they live well once they leave the hospital,”
Career Day was an unforgettable experience for Ursuline students – both past and present. Giving current students the opportunity to gain knowledge and insight into careers is truly beneficial and doing so through alumnae strengthens the Ursuline community at the same time. The students of Ursuline thank the alumnae, presenters and sisters for a memorable last day of school on campus.
Images Courtesy of Ursuline Dallas Flickr