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Alumni hold panels to normalize struggles

Written by Deiana Hristov

Published in the October 8, 2015 issue

On a sunny Monday afternoon, 2011 graduates Cat Volpe and Mingming Caressi sit down to talk about their program, designed to offer current students support from Gunn alumni.

The program, name still undecided, holds panels where alumni discuss their experiences in high school and college to help alleviate student fears and premonitions of life after high school. “There’s a huge gap between alumni and students and we want to fill it,” Volpe said.

The program wants to emphasize that the problems and struggles in high school are not permanent. “One thing is to realize that all things pass, both in a good way and in a bad way,” Volpe said. “Now when some really hard thing happens, I have the awareness that that will pass and I’ll be okay, and six months from now I won’t be in that place at all.”

For Caressi, the program is a way to com- municate to students that having a hard time in high school is not something to be ashamed of. “I wanted to normalize struggle in life: it’s not just success, it’s not just triumph, there’s also struggle, there’s failure, and it’s all part of the human condition,” she said. “I hope that by talking about [the struggles of high school] more often we can normalize and accept that this is just a part of life.”

For interested students, a Facebook group has been created, called Gunn and Paly Alumni For Current Students. The program plans to hold an open forum in November that will include a Q&A with alumni to discuss life after Gunn. Volpe hopes to hold multiple other forums throughout the school year and beyond. “There are so many options and opportunities, and when one thing passes or dies or fails, all that means is that a hundred other doors have been opened,” Volpe said.

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