Meet the alumni of awakening seed school
Rachel V. Smith
Age: 30 | Location: Florence, IT
I’m currently an art historian, Italian culturalist and writer living in Florence. I grad uated from Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, Arizona. In 2006 I received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Italian Language and Literature, Communication (Magna Cum Laude) from the University of Rhode Island and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Art History from Lorenzo de Medici Istituto (Florence, Italy)in 2010. In 2012 I earned a Master of Arts in Art History from Arizona State University.
It is difficult for me to put into words exactly how much Awakening Seed has influenced my life. I went to public school for one year (kindergarten) before my mom removed me from public school and enrolled me at the Seed. My first year in public school was difficult; I didn’t fit in with the other kids, having already learned much of what we were learning in class and because I am, and even then was, a very free spirit. I cried every day when my poor mom dropped me off and finally out of her desperation to find a place where I would belong and be treated as an individual, my mother found the Seed. At the Seed, I was finally praised for my differences. My creativity, originality and desire to learn were rewarded instead of punished. The other students didn’t tease me. There were no bullies. I learned to accept my individuality, value my self worth and express myself because of my time there. Additionally, the Seed set me up for success from an early age, because they allowed me to explore and develop my natural interests and talents. Currently, I live in Florence, Italy where I truly do what I love – art history, Italian language/culture and writing. I know unequivocally that I would not have had the drive, determination or fearlessness to get to where I am today, without my early formative years at the Seed.
Age: 35 | Phoenix, AZ
I’m a senior manager at a specialty pharmacy. Our team manages and mitigates complaints from patients, prescribers and clients. I graduated the AP track at McClintock High School in 1999. I then went on to graduate from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (Biochemical). I achieved a couple certificates from Stanford after that in subjects of product creation and project management. What makes me happy is quality time with my family. I also relish moments to read, exercise and create—food, art work, writing. The Seed greatly influenced who I am today. It fostered an environment for us to be children in and uplifted each of us as unique beings. I learned the value of creative play, curiosity, community, mutual respect, nature and culture, all of which stayed with me. One specific example is that I still use a visualization technique I first learned from our Aikido sensei at the Seed when he was teaching us basketball. I don’t use it for basketball any longer, but it applies to any challenge in life. When I was too old to attend the Seed, I started public school and, while the transition was abrasive, I flourished academically due to a curiosity and love of learning that was nurtured by the Seed.
Age: 36 | Location: Pagosa Springs, CO
I am living in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, where I’m a family medicine physician. I grew up and went to college in Tempe. After graduating from ASU, I married my college girlfriend and together we traveled through almost twenty countries with our backpacks. We came back to the States and I decided to pursue medicine. I finished valedictorian of my medical school class at Midwestern University, and now spend my time focusing on the things that are important to me: my work as a doctor, my relationships as a husband and father, and my free time spent enjoying the nature that surrounds us here in Colorado. I came out of the Seed with a greater sense of what it means to take on another person’s perspective – to consider what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes. I also have a greater respect for the Earth, for the nature around us. I remember everything about the Seed. I remember all the kids I went to school with, all the teachers. My closest friends to this day went there. Pretty amazing, really.