Weekend Wisdom

Jessica Li ’15

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“Define yourself by your interests and passions.”
“The most important lesson I learned at Kent Place is to define yourself by your interests and passions, not your strengths and achievements. The former are the sustainable drivers of the latter and the key to creating meaningful experiences and a fulfilling career and life. Centering your identity and goals purely on skills and accomplishments makes for a weak foundation in your sense of self and creativity. Skills and accomplishments are fleeting and relative, with the potential to change significantly depending on your environment, the people around you, and a range of other uncontrollable, volatile factors.
 
“At KPS, I conducted extracurricular research and pursued entrepreneurial work in what I genuinely wanted to explore. For me, that was technology: It held solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.
 
“Harvard was initially a difficult adjustment: Beliefs I had about my abilities and potential were thrown into doubt with each challenging exam and outcome that fell short of expectations. But by drawing on the intellectual curiosity I had developed at Kent Place, I returned to my foundation — my interests. I pursued my passions, and from there I was able to excel while enjoying both the challenges and the successes.
 
“Throughout college, I’ve been able to work with dozens of technology start-ups to create the society of tomorrow in areas ranging from machine learning for drug discovery to hyperspectral imaging for early crop-disease detection, from computer vision for industrial-machine monitoring to blockchain-based carbon credit markets. Following graduation, I will continue to pursue my interests and passions, this time with later-stage and larger enterprises through the Global Technology Investment Banking group at Morgan Stanley.”

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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.