Weekend Wisdom

Elizabeth Chrystal ’09

19
“Don’t worry about tracing your path too far into the future.”
“During my seven years at Kent Place, I pursued an eclectic collection of interests—I was fascinated by French and calculus; I was a voracious reader; I skied as much as I could; I experimented with new recipes most weeknights. At Kent Place, this seemingly disparate set of interests was encouraged, even though they did not make for a straightforward college application or obvious career trajectory. Instead, I was encouraged to chart my own path—whether considering independent travel in France or contemplating a French-Economics double major. I internalized my teachers’ confidence in me, with the understanding that a solid academic foundation and hard work would provide everything I would ultimately need to succeed.
 
“Since leaving KPS, I’ve continued traveling on a winding road: I went to cooking school in Paris on a grant from Yale, worked as an intern at Siggi’s when the yogurt company had just seven employees, ended up as a consultant at Bain, and now run strategy for Momofuku, a restaurant group founded by chef David Chang. No step had an obvious next move—the job I have now I couldn’t even have imagined existing when I was in high school.
 
“Nonetheless, I’ve found Kent Place equipped me perfectly for this moment. Rather than worrying about mapping out the next decade of my studies or career, KPS taught me to be adaptable: to think critically about topics from economics to chemistry, to seize opportunity, to always do my best work. And surprisingly, all that time working out proofs while simultaneously working on pad Thai really did end up being relevant to my career.
 
“Those years at Kent Place did a great deal in helping me stop worrying about tracing my path too far into the future, even when my peers seem to have everything figured out. The most exciting opportunities, for me, have been ones that I never would have predicted and often ones for which I felt quite unprepared at the time they came along. But they felt right. When I mentor young people today, I always encourage them to take the leap, even when it’s not clear where they will land—grateful that I’ve had so many people in my own life, starting at KPS, who always told me to jump.”
 
Photo credit: Andrew Bezek

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Kent Place School is an all-girls K through 12 independent college preparatory day school with a coeducational Preschool, located in Summit, NJ.