This year, the GFS Middle School is adding an exciting new initiative to their division-wide Signature Programs. The Women of Impact Speaker Series will welcome influential Garrison graduates representing a wide range of fields and industries to speak with the 7th Grade class, featuring one speaker each month who will share their story and experiences and then take questions from the class. The goal of the program is to help students explore the traits of a leader by reflecting on their  impact on others, on the community and on our world. As they hear from each speaker, students will explore their own leadership style, strengths and aspirations.

The 7th Grade Women of Impact Speaker Series will introduce our students to alumnae across various fields and industries, offering them a glimpse into possible future professional opportunities.” said Tara O’Neal, Middle School Mathematics Teacher and coordinator of the speaker series. “I’m so excited for our students to have the opportunity to hear from so many fabulous alumnae and to bring those fabulous alumnae back to GFS!”

Bisrat Abraham ’96 kicked off the program as its inaugural speaker on Friday. Bisrat, who was inducted as a member of the GFS Hall of Excellence, serves as an Associate Director for Pfizer’s Vaccine Clinical Research & Development Program and played a key role on one of the teams that brought a COVID-19 vaccine to the public. She spoke about her path to success; the importance of grit, passion and perseverance;  the importance of surrounding yourself with positive energy; and tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Bisrat Abraham

The 7th Grade Women of Impact Speaker Series is the latest addition to a robust offering of Signature Programs within the Middle School, joining the 6th Grade RISE (Research, Innovation and Scientific Exploration) Program and our 8th Grade Capstone Class. “These programs are designed as extensions of the student’s academic program and provide unique opportunities to develop valuable research, public speaking and leadership skills,” said Shannon Schmidt, Head of the Middle School. “They also happen to be incredibly fun and engaging! In a typical week, I get to see 6th Graders analyzing water samples from the pond alongside naturalists from Irvine Nature Center, 7th Graders leading a discussion with female leaders from around the country, and 8th Graders rehearsing their capstone TED talks on topics like Body Image, Race Relations in America, and Plastics in the Chesapeake Bay. It's absolutely incredible to see our students dig into these projects and apply what they’ve learned to help have an impact on our campus and in our community.” 

The program will welcome other distinguished alumnae to future sessions this academic year.