New Hampton School enthusiastically welcomed Rich Ryan, Class of 1983, Deputy Project Manager for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s James Webb Space Telescope project to campus this week as the first Alumni in Residence guest. Ryan’s busy schedule on-campus included meetings with administrators, class visits, lunch with students, a Community Meeting presentation, and time with science faculty.
This was Ryan’s first visit to campus since he was a student in 1983. He thoroughly enjoyed this visit, and so did we.
Students embraced the opportunity to engage with an alumnus of the school, peppering him with questions throughout his visit about everything from his journey after New Hampton to scientific questions about space, to internship opportunities with NASA and the business aspect of running a nine-billion dollar project. Ryan acknowledged that with his visit to campus he was “most interested in engaging with students.” His down-to-earth personality aided him in having real conversations with the New Hampton School community.
Sharing Classes and Community
In Sarah Tyson’s Freshman Seminar, Ryan asked all the students to share a little about themselves and where they are from, before talking about his professional journey after he left New Hampton. Helpful to students, he shared that he transferred mid-way through college upon realizing that what he really wanted to pursue was Aviation Administration and that he could make changes to better suit his interests.
The science faculty welcomed Ryan to their weekly department meeting to discuss the possibility of a partnership between New Hampton School and NASA, opportunities include classes skyping with an astrophysicist or another member of the NASA team, professional opportunities for teachers, internships or a Project Week trip for students interested in aerospace engineering.
The benefit to students and their desire to connect with authentic opportunities and experienced mentors was evident in the group of twenty-five students that gathered yesterday evening, following Ryan’s presentation to the whole community about the James Webb Space Telescope, to continue the conversation. Students from all grades gathered in the Hassinger Room, wanting to know more about Ryan’s journey, about the deployment of the telescope, about the best preparation for a career in science. We are so grateful for his time and the wonderful insight he provided to our students and faculty.
Just the Beginning
Ryan’s visit is just the beginning of new opportunities for New Hampton School students, faculty, and alumni. The goal of the Alumni in Residence program is two-fold. First, we hope to engage our alumni constituency with the school and reconnect with former students (Ryan is now thinking about attending his 35th reunion in the spring following his visit to campus). Additionally, it provides an outlet for our students to gain exposure to professional opportunities and connect with communities that they might be interested in. We look forward to welcoming our next Alumni in Residence guest to campus in January.
This week’s visit affirmed the importance of an Alumni program that welcomes back individuals with a connection to our school, an interest in our students, and a range of professional, real-world experience to share with our community. Ryan’s story is captured in more detail in the Fall issue of Hamptonia, which will be in the mail very soon. Should other alumni have interest in contributing to the Alumni in Residence program or sharing their professional resources with our students, please reach out to Director of Alumni and Parent Programs Cindy Buck.