Finding Success After Academy

October 9, 2016


Credit: Grace Neal/ Achona Online

Once an Academy woman, always an Academy woman.

Throughout their four years in high school, Academy women strive to be the best they can be, and this mentality remains even after they leave Bayshore. Academy graduates often have major aspirations for their lives, which influence their successes in the future. Due to the resources supplied at Academy, many alumni have accomplished many things out in the workforce. The opportunities given at Academy help these women land their dream jobs and thrive throughout their careers.


Dr. Victoria McGovern

Dr. Victoria McGovern, Class of 1981, is currently working in North Carolina for the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, which promotes research and education of biomedical sciences. The foundation works towards furthering scientists and undervalued biomedical fields through support, along with grant and award programs. Dr.McGovern is currently very involved with Academy life through her backing of the Achona Newspaper, which she was an Editor for in her time at Academy.


McGovern advises “Once you’ve got the being-rather-than-seeming thing down, don’t worry, your dream career will take care of itself. When you know who you are, it gives you an idea about where you belong. When you know where you belong, go there. It’s where you’re supposed to be.” (Credit: Grace Neal/Achona Online)

Achona: How did you come to work with the Burroughs Wellcome Fund?

McGovern: “So I decided to go in a new direction that would give me the things I enjoyed most about being a research scientist  and let me start my work life much sooner. What did I enjoy? Learning things all the time, doing things that matter for real people in the real world, standing up and teaching people sometimes, and writing a lot.

I knew about the Burroughs Wellcome Fund because I knew some top scientists they had funded and because I had done some writing for them. When a job that fit me came open here, I did my best to convince them they needed me on the team. I got hired partly because of my scientific background, partly because of my writing skills, and partly because they had seen that I was a hard worker and someone who would fit in well with the company.”


A: What are some of the tasks and aspects of your job?

M: “I have an unusual job—it’s kind of upside down compared to the work most people do. Most businesses work to make money, and we work to give it away. I work for a private, independent foundation with a substantial endowment. An endowment is a sum of money that has been set aside to bear fruit for an organization. The organization doesn’t spend the money in the endowment; it spends the money that the endowment earns. So every day I work on looking for ways to advance medical research. Those ways range from support of individual investigators to support of things that generally improve the health of the US scientific enterprise. I spend my time reading and talking to people about what’s going on in the areas of science I cover, and making sure excellent researchers hear about our programs.”


A: How has Academy affected your career?

M: “I don’t know where to start to answer that! The trivial answer is that the Academy gave me a great education that helped make me intellectually energetic, confident, and willing to work hard for the rewards that come from discovering new things. I think that good all-girls schools all grow independent, centered, realistic women who know how to take care of themselves. Add the Catholic element into the mix and you grow women who have all that and also want to serve a meaningful mission and do good in the world. But I’m not just a former Catholic girls school girl: I’m an Academy girl. Being an Academy girl is special.”


A: How did you become interested in the field you work in, and how did you go about turning that into a career?

M: “From the time I was a little kid I was completely committed to being a scientist, and at the same time completely committed to being a writer. If you ask my classmates what they remember about me academically, they’d say “She was really into science”. But I was equally into being part of Achona. In college I majored in biology and English, and I worked in a lab, and I was managing editor of the alternative student newspaper. In grad school you’re supposed to be completely focused on your studies and lab work, but I snuck off to get another education by being part of a writers’ workshop for most of the time I was there. If I had to give up writing or give up science, I’d be a sadder person. Both of them are key parts of how I see the world. I work in philanthropy because I work in science, but the skills I bring to my work come as much from being a writer as from being a scientist.”


A: Still being involved with Academy as patron of Achona, what advice would you give to seniors aspiring for their dream career?

M: “It’s up there on the wall, isn’t it? Be, don’t seem. When you’re studying, when you’re playing, when you’re getting dressed for a dance, when you’re with your friends singing at the top of your lungs, when you’re quiet, when things go wrong, when things go right, in the Chapel, in the art studio, in the pool, at the track, walking over the bridge to your car, all those times that are part of your life at the Academy. When you’re at your best, make a habit of thinking, “this is who I am,” and when you’re maybe not at your best, make a habit of thinking,“Is this who I am? Is this who I aim to be?” I guarantee you, if you keep these three questions close, you’ll be esse quam videri-ing the socks off that life of yours.”


A: Do you still keep in contact with your Academy sisters?

M: “Of course I do! We’re the bestestest. And remarkably good looking. And modest. And talented. And modest.  And stylin’. Seriously. (Don’t laugh at us. It’ll give you wrinkles, which will put you at significant risk for being voted “Most Likely to Be Mistaken for a Prune” at the 75th reunion of your class.)”


Angela Lubrano Pottinger

Angela Lubrano Pottinger, class of 1985, is currently the Alumni Board of Directors President for the Academy. She works as the Executive Director for the Florida Medical Clinic Foundation of Caring, a non-profit organization working in Pasco and Hillsborough county. The organization works to benefit at risk children and families through improving education, feeding the hungry, serving the homeless, and much more to support the community.

Pottinger reflects “From early on, the Sisters at the Academy have instilled in me the importance of giving back and providing service to those in need. I have tried to live my life with that in mind.” Credit: Angela Pottinger (used with permission)


Achona: How did you come to work with the Florida Medical Clinic Foundation of Caring?

Potting: “I have been a part of the non-profit industry in some form or fashion for my entire adult career. The experiences I have had at various organizations from direct support staff, to a member of several Boards have provided a solid foundation and led me to this opportunity. With a strong background as a fundraising professional and knowledge from owning my own business, the transition was natural.”


A: What are some of the tasks and aspects of your job that you enjoy?

P: “As Executive Director, I can be a conduit for change. I am able to use my skill set to build the capacity of the FMC Foundation of Caring to make a more significant impact on our community. But more importantly, I love connecting people to their passion while helping those in need.”


A: For students aspiring to work in a field similar to yours, what advice would you give them?

P: “Find your passion! Listen more than you talk. Develop genuine relationships. Find a mentor who you can trust. Work hard. Trust your instincts.”


A: Would you consider this job your dream job, why or why not?

P: “Absolutely! My passion is about transforming lives and life circumstances. At Florida Medical Clinic Foundation of Caring, we are able to not only provide funding through our granting process, but create true partnerships with the organizations we support to affect real change. Since, we are not singularly focused on a particular mission, we can support feeding the hungry, address homelessness, provide services for people living in distress neighborhoods and tackle domestic violence and child abuse in an attempt to strengthen the health and wellness of our community. Through this collaboration, we also provide boots on the ground and countless volunteer service to help those in need.”


A: How has hard work and dedication played into where you are currently in your career?

P: “A strong work ethic will serve anyone well. Learning about your craft, investing in your professional development, networking and putting in the effort are just part of the equation. Timing and opportunity also plays a role. Every one of my job experiences has been a stepping stone to the next. I have learned from my success and, more importantly, my mistakes which have made me a stronger and well-rounded woman and leader.”


A: Do you still keep in contact with your Academy sisters?

P: “Yes! Besides the academic success, the Academy creates an environment to nurture life-long, meaningful relationships among its students.  You become a family. And even though your lives may take different paths, I am here to say that the bond you develop never goes away. Not only do I keep in touch with my a lot of classmates, as a member of the Alumni Board, I have countless opportunities to foster relationships with generations of Academy graduates. All of which have enriched my life in many ways.”


Katelyn Prieboy

Katelyn Prieboy, Class of 2015, is currently a student at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. Her major is based around her passion for music and the career she intends to pursue out of college. She recently won first place in the International Home of Legends Thumbpicking contest.

Prieboy shares “I have met so many like-minded individuals who play the same style of guitar I do or have worked with (or even are) my musical heroes. The best part is, everyone wants to share what they have learned with the younger generation (in my genre at least).” Credit: Katelyn Prieboy (used with permission)


Achona: Many seniors are very interested in Belmont currently, what led you to choosing Belmont University?

Prieboy: “Long before I even was in high school (probably going on around 10 years ago), I found interest in Belmont. I did some research about the school (the best research a 9 year old could do) and set my sights on attending when I graduated high school. Sometime junior year my parents and I visited Belmont to make sure it was really everything I thought it would be should I want to go the music route. I toured a lot of colleges throughout high school but Belmont instantly felt like home. Music was what I was meant to do. My two main criteria going into my college search were, first, does it feel like home and secondly, will it help me get to where I want to go.”


A: How have you developed your interests in and out of school?


P: “I’m probably one of the few who came to college knowing exactly where they saw themselves in 4 years. That being said, my academic interests have changed somewhat since freshman year. I originally went in as a Commercial Guitar major but switched to Audio Engineering late last year. While it wasn’t necessarily an interest change — I came in potentially wanting to double major in Commercial Guitar and AET but couldn’t figure out how to do it with my time constraints as a music major — I had a change in perspective about what type of degree I wanted to graduate with and what type of job I wanted to get once graduated. Being a musician is still my first career choice… but let’s just say it’s easier to make a living as an audio engineer than as a guitar player!”


A: What do you major in and how do you plan on that leading to a career?

P: “I am an Audio Engineering major with a Classical Guitar minor. Music has been and always will be a passion of mine, so I plan on my career being in the music industry. I can’t say exactly what specific career path that will give me because there are so many things I would like to be doing; my degree gives me that flexibility. Long term, I would love to be a music producer/engineer but that’s not anything I could get a job in immediately after graduation. It takes years of small projects to work up and become a credible sound engineer.”


A: What does it feel like to win 1st place in the International Home of Legends Thumbpicking contest?

P: “Incredible!  I didn’t go into the competition expecting to win, so it was a real shock. All the players were fantastic. It was definitely an honor as well, considering no female has ever won the competition. To anyone who isn’t familiar with the style of music I play — thumbpicking — it probably seems a bit strange. What is it? People don’t know what it is but I can guarantee they’ve heard it around more than they would expect. (Chet Atkins, who is the most well-known for popularizing the style, is the one playing the song in that never-seeming-to-go-off-the-air Esurance commercial.)

These three incredible  alumni, all  from different generations of Academy women, have, without a doubt, succeeded in their careers. With passionate hard work and dedication, any student can make their career aspirations become a reality.  The lives these women lead are admirable and something for current Academy students to aspire to achieve themselves once they are out of high school.”

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