Catch up with 2012 graduate Valeria St. Laurent.
Name: Valeria St. Laurent
Year Graduated Westover: 2012
College/University attended: Rice University
College/University Graduation: 2016 Majored in Sociology; Business; and Poverty, Justice, and Human Capabilities. Graduated Cum Laude.
1. Going from Westover to college that first year, how did Westover prepare you to head into a brand new environment, socially/academics, etc.?
Westover prepared me for life by surrounding me with amazing role models in my teachers and peers. I learned how to be myself, learn about other people while suspending judgement, and lift up other women in professional, academic, and social settings. The ability to form strong bonds with other women is probably the sole reason I've accomplished anything in life.
2. How did Westover give you the confidence to find yourself or find success in college?
Westover created a space where all of us could be ourselves and figure out what that meant within the framework of a larger society. At Westover, I learned that the coolest opportunities in life happen when you follow your magic! You should probably be doing more of the things that light you up. The world needs it :)
3. What is something you discovered about yourself during your four years? Meaning a new passion, deciding on a major, etc.?
I lived abroad in Jordan while at Westover, where I realized my love of language, Sociology, and connecting with other people. Learning Arabic and living in the Middle East at 15 led me to so many cool opportunities in college, where I lived abroad three more times before I graduated.
4. Life after college: Since graduating, what are you up to? Pursuing graduate school/jumping into the workforce?
After I graduated, I worked in corporate workplace diversity for a couple years before starting an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program at Yale. I just became a nurse this August, and have 2 more years of my master's program before I'm a nurse practitioner! I'm currently working full time as a registered nurse, working as a teaching assistant for the incoming class at Yale, and teaching the US Health Justice course, which is a class for NP, PA, and med students at Yale where we learn to be the best providers possible for marginalized communities.
5. How did you decide on what to do after graduating? What was that thought-process like for you?
I was interested in absolutely everything, which made it impossible to choose a career path. I knew I loved working with a variety of people from different backgrounds, but I didn't know what that could translate into for a job. I actually got rejected from my Plan A (and only plan) after graduation (the Boren fellowship), which led me to question the path I wanted to pursue. My senior year of college, I got sick and was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. When I was in the hospital, the nurses and NPs were amazing. Nurse practitioners can take care of patients throughout the entire spectrum of illness. They can do everything from bathing and toileting to prescribing medications, diagnosing illnesses, and doing complex procedures. They can also practice autonomously without MD oversight. Yale was the only school I applied to and it ended up working out. I never thought I would get paid to love & take care of people! It's the coolest job ever, and I'm loving every second.
6. For you, how valuable are the Westover connections?
Westover connections keep me sane! There is nothing like having people who have known you since you were an awkward 13 year old.
7. For the upcoming Class of 2019, what advice would you give them as they prepare to start their senior year, college applications, and thinking about life after Westover?
Relax. It's not that serious. In a very short amount of time, nobody will care what school you went to, and nobody but Westover girls have memorized the US News rankings... people think it's weird. Everything will work out how it's supposed to. If you end up making a decision you don't like, whether that's your chosen college or profession, it's okay to change your mind! Be brave and be you every day. If anyone is interested in healthcare or just want an alum connection, feel free to reach out! I love Westover girls and would love to be a resource for you in any way you need.