Professional Connections: RPCS Graduates Share Their Best Career Advice with Upper School Students

Professional Connections: RPCS Graduates Share Their Best Career Advice with Upper School Students
“If you don’t seek, you don’t find. So, keep looking!” This was just one of many pieces of valuable advice our RPCS graduates shared with Upper School students at our school’s annual Professional Connections program on Monday, January 23, 2024. Organized by the Alumnae Office, five RPCS alumnae participated in a panel discussion to talk about their career paths, offer perspectives in exploring professional pursuits and reflect on how RPCS prepared them for life after graduation.

Moderated by Cary Zink Kassouf, 1995, Alumnae Board President and Executive Director of the Baltimore Research and Education Foundation (BREF), the panelists covered multiple topics, from ways to achieve work life balance, how an  all-girls environment impacted the graduates’ college experiences, the value in asking for help, and how non-linear career paths can bring professional and personal fulfillment.

Lauren Dodrill Benjamin, J.D., 2001, P’35, Director of Leadership and Planned Giving at RPCS, shared how the school built her sense of confidence. “I never doubted that I should have a seat at the table working in a male-dominated industry,” she said. Lauren also credits RPCS for teaching her mental toughness and perseverance, how to think critically and deeply and how write well – all important skills for any career. Lauren also advised the girls to pursue networking opportunities and informational interviews to learn about different career options.

Maya Jackson, 2011, Psychotherapist, Intake and Services Coordinator, and Case Management Supervisor for Optimum Health Systems, shared three pieces of advice with the students: don’t be afraid to ask for help, get involved in school activities and enjoy being a kid. She also encouraged the students to invest in their mental health. “We only get one life,” Maya said. “Just enjoy what you’re doing!” Currently studying to become a Licensed Certified Social Worker-Clinical (LCSW-C), Maya credits RPCS for teaching her how to apply herself and take her education seriously. “Choosing what you want to learn is very impactful.”

Lulu Zeitouneh, 2001, a Creative Director who has worked in media for almost two decades, is also grateful for the values of confidence and courage that RPCS taught her. “You’re laying the groundwork for your lives here,” she told the students. Lulu urged them to not be afraid to put themselves out there, stay flexible in this ever-changing world and pivot career paths, as needed. “There is value in failure, even as an adult,” Lulu told the students.

Similarly, Mackenzie Birely, 2015, a nurse who plans to pursue a career as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, talked about how change is great for growth and assured the students that they don’t need to know yet what career paths they may want to pursue. She encouraged the students to take advantage of opportunities in college to follow their passions. “Don’t be afraid to take your shot,” she told the audience.

Regan Gore, 2015, Head of Operations for Wisdom Ventures, who is also pursuing a Master of Education with a focus on social foundations and connections, spoke about the value of being scrappy and connecting with other graduates from other all-girls schools. Her best advice to the students was to: “Listen to your parents! They are always in your corner, and they know you best.”

Several students asked the speakers thoughtful questions about ways to network and how to know an interest may be worth pursuing as a career. Afterwards, the students and graduates mingled in the Faissler Library to continue the conversation. See all of the pictures from this event here. We are so grateful to our alumnae for sharing their time and wise insights with us!


From left to right: Cary Zink Kassouf, 1995 (moderator); Lauren Dodrill Benjamin, J.D., 2001, P’35; Lulu Zeitouneh, 2001; Mackenzie Birely, 2015; Maya Jackson, 2011; and Regan Gore, 2015.