Home Is Where The Mount Is!

The story of some of the Mount’s finest alums to have ever graduated – and why they never left.

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Not many of us can say that we relive our past every day, but for these Mount alumnae, that’s exactly what they do! Five former Mount students who now work at the Mount, whether faculty or staff, experience this feeling every day as they head into work. We met with former students to take a trip down memory lane and talk a little bit about their time at the Mount, their favorite memories, and the transition from student to staff member. 

When asked, most alumnae agreed that it was very strange to call former teachers by their first name. Also, being peers with former superiors was a difficult shift for the former Mount students. Mrs. Giampapa commented that “it was hard for [her] to see them not as teachers but as colleagues, and seeing them in a different light….. took some getting used to.” Ms. Perez shared a similar sentiment, commenting that the “dynamics of them not being [her] superior anymore” were different; she “definitely treated a lot of [her] colleagues who were [her] former teachers with a decent amount of deference.”  Ms. Sullivan further noted that it was “interesting working with [Sr. Fran] as a colleague,” and that “watching her as a leader of the school was just so inspiring and exciting. It was one of the strangest things, but one of the most inspiring things, about becoming a staff member here at the Mount.” 

The Mount alums reflected on the lessons they learned at the Mount that have been the most influential and critical through their adult life. They all agreed the most important thing they learned was to not be afraid to speak up. The Mount instilled in them confidence and the courage to speak up, no matter who was in the room. Mrs. Giampapa shared her story: “I got into college as a math major, I was one of two girls in most of my math classes in college. I was the one sitting in the front of the room, asking all the questions, answering all the questions. Not at all fazed by all of the males in the room while she kept very much to herself. Had I been anywhere but the Mount, I don’t know that would have been me. I don’t know if I would have been who I was in college. I don’t even know that I would have been a math major. I don’t know that I would have had the confidence to pursue math after high school.” In addition, some alums reflected that the adults at the Mount trusted them to have important conversations and expected their students to hold themselves accountable. Ms. Perez talked about her experience: “I’ve had experiences as a student where I felt the adults treated me like one too. They had high expectations for me, expected me to be honest and to bear some integrity when I shared my side of every story and then also took into account all the other stakeholders that were involved in any situation that I was in and I feel like many of my colleagues strive to do the same and I think many of the student here expect that from their teachers and their administrators as well.” Above all, the Mount instilled a great sense of independence and autonomy in its students, preparing them for college and beyond. Ms. Froysland affirmed that her “four years here as a student really taught [her] how to be independent, manage [her] time well, and how to advocate for [herself]. Just being in an all girls school made [her] more comfortable finding [her] voice and expressing that voice.” In some cases, the women even reflected on the surprising influence the Mount had on their lives. Ms. Sullivan shared that the Mount really taught her, as cliché as it seems, the importance of friendship. She truly believes that the Mount held true to their pledge of empowering women. Mrs. Przyhocki had a similar experience: “I did not appreciate the Mount when I was here as a student in the same way that I did until I got to college. And I would say that I was probably a month or so into college. And I realized that what I gained in the classroom, being able to contribute and raise my voice, I would not have gotten that in a public school.”

Later on, Mount alum were asked how they ended up back at the Mount. Did they see themselves coming back here? How did they end up back here? It was not a unanimous opinion, some saw themselves coming back, some did not. Some had always planned on teaching, some fell into it by surprise. Mrs. Giampapa commented, “I started teaching at a public school after I got out of college and thought I would stay. After I took a break from teaching to have my kids, I was looking for a part time job. I didn’t want to do anything full time, and saw this position advertised as a part time position. I think it was fate.” Ms. Perez “wanted to be a history teacher since [she] was in the 10th grade, sitting in [her] US 1 class here.” She remembered fondly that, “My friends and I would always joke and be like ‘Nicole’s going to come back, she’s going to teach.’ Here I am!” What took her by surprise was how long she stayed and her recent step up into leadership, “I think I’ve kind of returned home in a sense.” Ms. Froysland definitely did not see herself coming back at all, “No, no. I worked in the OR for ten years and then […]I heard through the grapevine that [Mrs. Lenihan, former nurse] was retiring and the Mount was looking for a nurse. I just applied and went for it and here I am.” Some were unsure about their careers, and ended up at the Mount by chance, like Ms. Sullivan, “When I graduated from the Mount, I still wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do professionally. As you also get older, sometimes you really look at what type of institution you are working for and what value you are bringing to the job that you do. There’s all types of jobs and every job adds value, whether it’s to yourself personally, to the company you work for, all employment, all types of jobs have value. Sometimes you want to be able to look back and say, ‘Wow, I was really able to make a change or have an impact that matters a great deal to me personally.’’

Next, Mount alum were asked to give some advice to their high school selves, to dig deep and say what they wished they could have heard. Mrs. Giampapa commented, “I probably would tell myself not to take myself too seriously. That’s sort of the joy in life, it’s in the small things, you will miss out on them if you are too preoccupied with other things. Enjoy the moment because it’s fleeting.” Ms. Perez echoed this, “Not to sweat the small stuff too much. And that’s about everything, that’s about the little dramas that you encounter day to day, the 5/10 on a quiz, your hair is parted funny. It’s all those little things that at the end of the day don’t dictate who you’re going to be in the future.” Ms. Froysland: “Not to worry about what other people think of you because in the end it does not matter at all.” Ms. Sullivan encouraged her high school self to  “stop and smell the roses in that moment.” She went on to say, “I think a lot of what I was thinking about while I was here was what I was going to do next. Try not to rush through it. I wish I had cherished it a little more in the moment.” Mrs. Przyhocki added that she would pass her advice on to her daughters, former and current Mount students Emma ’17, Caila ’20, and Lea ’23, advising them “not to stress as much about some of the smaller things I get kind of bogged down, but really there is a greater plan and everything truly does work itself out in its own time.”

The five women were also asked to reflect on how the Mount has changed since their time here. All felt that the environment remained the same, the sense of community, of sisterhood was the same regardless of time. The memories, the feelings, the spirit of the Mount is the same. Mrs. Giampapa touched on “the environment, the feeling you get, the feeling that I got when I came back to interview, those feelings come flooding back when you step back in and you almost feel like, when we say we are in this together it’s not even just like you guys are in this together,  we all are in this together and I think we all feel connected, not just the students but I think the faculty feels connected to the students too.” Ms. Perez noted that “on a very foundational level, the Mount has stayed the same, particularly in regards to people trusting in and believing the mission and the vision of this school. I think people come here, both students and staff alike, because I think they truly believe in the mission and I think we’re all on the same page.” Ms. Sullivan highlighted the current Mount community, “I really feel like you guys make the environment and I think your energy and your commitment to being here and the sort of collective desire to excel academically and in theater and in athletics. I think you guys create the buzz and you kind of drive the culture that gets stronger every year. “Probably one of the Mount’s greatest assets,” Mrs. Pryzhuski reflected, “is its ability to maintain the tradition and that yet also move forward into the future. The feeling of community and the feeling of empowering young women.”

Then, the Mount alum were asked to reflect on the different opportunities they had during their time here, and the opportunities we have now. Some, like Mrs. Giampapa, reflected on how the uniform has changed over time, with current students having, “more options for uniforms than we did. I remember having the winter kilt, which we still have the exact same kilt. We had what I call the brown paper bag skirt, which is kind of like the khaki skirt, but it literally fit you like a paper bag.” Ms. Perez discussed the trends behind extracurriculars, “When I was a student, I felt like the theater, arts, music program was at its peak or at a golden age. Choir was massive, we had three of them, to accommodate for the demand. We had somewhere around 40 to 50 girls in Choir. We had a concert choir, an advanced choir, and a smaller group of 12 or 13 that focused on singing more contemporary stuff like jazz and pop numbers and things like that. I was fortunate enough to be a member of all three. Some of my best memories were had in having choir. So I wish that it was more highlighted today. ” Ms. Froysland spoke fondly of the new programs the Mount offers, citing the LEO program as “a great opportunity. There’s also so much of a bigger variety of classes that you guys get to take that we didn’t really have the opportunity to take when we were students.” ” Ms. Sullivan also brought up the Leo program and its unique style of learning from alumni and other people out in the world who are […] making their way and finding their paths. I think building those connections and having that as part of your learning process here as a student, I think opportunities like that really didn’t exist when I was a student here.” 

The Alumnae considered some of their favorite things about the Mount, and some of the newer traditions that they cherish as well. Mrs. Giampapa looked back on her field day memories fondly: “We used to do field day, literally outside, where the Athletic Center is now, it was just a grassy knoll. Sr. Peggy Ann reminds me that when we did field day back then, we had a watermelon pit spitting contest -probably not COVID friendly- those were great memories.” Ms. Perez talked of her current favorite thing at the Mount, “I think my favorite thing about the Mount honestly, today, and this is going to sound kind of cheesy, is what I can learn from you guys. I think that’s what I enjoyed about being a teacher in the first place. I think the thing that drove me to also want to be a teacher, especially at this level, is again being able to have higher level conversations with teenagers and seeing what they can do and also having teachers when I was here that trusted us to carry conversations at that level so it’s nice to actually see that continue on with those I teach here.” Ms. Sullivan reminisced on her classmates, “My favorite thing looking back was my classmates. What were the bonds where I was meeting people from towns that I had never spent time in meeting a very diverse group of young women and that, from my little town, I would have never had the opportunity or the pleasure of meeting these wonderful women. And I think the same thing now, I think is one of the greatest things, just the opportunity to be here and be yourself and find your people.”

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