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Rowland Hall graduate Daisy Innis '23 receives honorable mention in  2023 New York Times Student Editorial Contest.

Author's note: Daisy's pronouns are she/they and have been used interchangeably throughout this article. Learn more.

Staring at her phone, Daisy Innis ’23 almost couldn’t believe what she was seeing.

It was a June morning, and Daisy was busy at her summer job as a camp counselor. Just moments before, while preparing to wrangle a group of children and their gear onto a bus for that day’s field trip, Daisy had seen a notification from The New York Times Learning Network in their inbox. The winners of the 2023 Student Editorial Contest, to which Daisy had entered an original essay (shared at the end of this story), had been announced.

This year, students from around the world submitted 12,592 essays to the New York Times Learning Network’s annual competition, and only 151 were chosen for recognition.

Part of Daisy’s mind remained on their inbox as she got campers seated and ready for the drive. When that task was accomplished, Daisy settled into a seat, clicked the announcement, and began scrolling. Suddenly, their heart gave a leap of recognition: her own name was among the contest’s 33 honorable mentions. She almost couldn’t believe it. “I was a little bit in shock,” she remembered.

That emotion was understandable. This year, students from around the world submitted 12,592 essays to the New York Times Learning Network’s annual competition, and only 151 were chosen for recognition: 11 top winners, 12 runners-up, 33 honorable mentions, and 95 round-four finalists. Daisy was also the only student from Utah to be recognized in this year’s contest.

For Daisy, the recognition was huge, not only because so few entries could be honored, but because the moment marked an important milestone in a months-long process of reflection and healing.

Daisy’s journey to New York Times recognition kicked off in a somewhat unexpected way: with a trip to Utah’s Capitol Hill.

On January 24, 2023, Daisy attended a House Health and Human Services Standing Committee meeting for House Bill 132 (later Senate Bill 16) during the Utah State Legislature’s 2023 General Session. As an experienced peer educator for Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, a lobbyist during this year’s session, and a devoted community advocate, Daisy had a clear understanding of the impact that this bill, designed to prevent all gender-affirming care for minors, would have on young Utahns.

“This sort of legislature affects so many people in the state of Utah, in a way that is overall life-changing,” she explained.

As she sat in the meeting, Daisy watched, frustrated, as the bill’s sponsor introduced witnesses who argued against gender-affirming care but were unable to provide evidence of their claims. This was a high-stakes legislative session, Daisy thought, and would affect people’s lives. How could it be that students like her were held to far higher standards in the classroom than legislative witnesses were in committee meetings? “I have been taught that you need to have sources, evidence—you need to back it up, you need to list your sources,” said Daisy.

This lack of sources made the passage of the bill three days later especially upsetting for Daisy. “I was so angry,” they remembered, and that anger, as well as the fear Daisy felt for those affected by the bill, stayed with them. Come spring, said Daisy, they still found themself reflecting on the experience. The anger hadn’t dimmed.

It was at this time that Daisy’s AP Literature teacher, Dr. Carolyn Hickman, introduced a unit titled What Makes Us Human?, an opportunity for students to read works such as Ted Chiang’s Exhalation, Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Existentialism Is a Humanism,” and Megan Garber’s “We’re Already Living in the Metaverse” while collectively trying to process broader hot-topic conversations around generative AI and ChatGPT, which had been picking up in earnest since OpenAI launched their chatbot in November 2022. Dr. Hickman asked students to reflect on these in-class conversations, then find ways to share their own commentary with real-world audiences. As she reflected, Daisy kept thinking back to the misinformation leading states, including Utah, to pass bills limiting or blocking transgender youth health care—and realized she wasn't as worried about AI and ChatGPT as others. What she was actually afraid of were politicians who share propaganda and misinformation that impact human lives.

“What I was afraid of was the legislation being passed. To me, it feels more tangible,” Daisy explained. “At least if you use ChatGPT you can ask it to give you sources.”

Daisy decided to tackle this topic, choosing for their real-world audience The New York Times Learning Network, which had recently opened its 2023 Student Editorial Contest, an annual opportunity for middle and high school students between the ages of 13 and 19 to share original opinion pieces on the issues that matter to them. Student writers are asked to use at least one source published in the Times and at least one source from outside the Times, and to limit arguments to 450 words, with winners chosen from those who “not only ground their claims in strong evidence, but also engage [the judges] with voice and style.”

Once she had picked her topic, Daisy remembers sitting down in English class, putting on her headphones, and letting the words flow onto the page. It was as though all she had been ruminating on had been ready to come out, and she remembers the writing process as cathartic and healing. “It was an honest expression of what I’d been reflecting on for months, and probably a good exercise in writing for me,” Daisy remembered. The process also helped Daisy feel renewed passion for the often exhausting work of community advocacy, as well as helped her better understand, learn from, and harness the anger she’d been feeling.

Daisy's opinion piece asked readers to focus not on how the writing is produced, but instead on all the ways we fail to hold others accountable for the information they disseminate.—Dr. Carolyn Hickman, AP English teacher and Upper School English Department chair

“This was a reminder of the passion piece of advocacy—I was so angry, and being able to channel that anger into this piece helped me to think through it and reflect on it, and also to sort of share that anger, because it can be hard to be angry by yourself,” said Daisy.

Importantly, sharing that anger also helped Daisy realize she wasn’t alone. The New York Times recognition showed her that her perspective had struck a chord, providing a necessary perspective in ongoing conversations about not only AI but human-generated misinformation.

“Daisy's opinion piece asked readers to focus not on how the writing is produced, but instead on all the ways we fail to hold others accountable for the information they disseminate,” said Dr. Hickman. “It doesn't matter if it's generated by AI or simply fabricated out of thin air, she challenged, if we don't insist on careful sourcing of facts, data, and opinions as others wield information in ways that affect us all.”

Daisy said their New York Times recognition has given them more confidence in their writing—and that being recognized by a national paper of record isn’t too shabby, either. “It’s pretty cool to be picked out of 12,000 entries, and it’s also really cool that my name is in the New York Times, especially as an avid New York Times reader and crossword-doer,” she said.

Daisy is currently attending the University of Puget Sound, where she’s planning to pursue a degree in the school’s Science, Technology, Health & Society program, with a minor in bioethics, and is contemplating later earning a master of public health. As a Matelich Scholar, Daisy is also working to build community on the Puget Sound campus and said they’ll continue to draw on this experience to stay passionate about this important work.

“I intend to continue working in the same vein that I have been doing,” said Daisy, “and it’s really important to me to remember my values, and my anger, because that is really going to fuel me, that passion and anger and desire, but also the joy that I feel doing work in the community. Finding that balance, but also remembering the fact that I feel emotions about it, whether good or bad, is the best motivator.”

We invite the Rowland Hall community to enjoy Daisy’s essay, shared below.

When It Comes to Secondary Education, Are We Fearing the Right Things?

By Daisy Innis, Class of 2023

In the wake of ChatGPT’s release, I cannot quite find it in myself to care as much as my parents and teachers. My mother says I’m a fatalist, and my teachers want to know why. But my question is: is generative AI and ChatGPT the right thing to fear?

Much like Mr. Aumann, a professor interviewed for the New York Times’ reflection on ChatGPT and education, my teachers are considering methods to discourage use of this technology. They’ve considered hand-written assessments and detection programs. They have, like many, spent a significant amount of time trying to outwit AI. For them, the possibility of AI-generated student writing is one of their biggest educational concerns.

But it isn’t mine. It is difficult for me to be concerned about the possibility of academic dishonesty in classrooms when I see much more pressing issues within the (mis)use of information. As a student in Utah, I have watched state legislators—in my state and others—be held to a lower academic standard and pass legislation with disastrous consequences.

As a high school student, had I submitted a paper without sources, or even used an AI tool, I would have been failed, and further disciplined in the case of the latter. That disciplinary action would likely follow me for the rest of my education.

During this year’s legislative session, S.B. 16, a bill preventing all gender-affirming care for minors, became law. I attended the committee meeting of a prior iteration of the bill, H.B. 132. I watched Representative Shipp introduce witnesses who spoke without regard for the desires of trans kids and without clear evidence for their claims. Most memorably, when asked for his sources, Dr. David Boettger replied that he didn’t remember, and that he didn’t have them with him.

As a high school student, had I submitted a paper without sources, or even used an AI tool, I would have been failed, and further disciplined in the case of the latter. That disciplinary action would likely follow me for the rest of my education. Dr. Boettger’s testimony was accepted without consideration of his sources, and used to later pass S.B. 16. His choices won’t follow him. This bill, backed by unnamed sources, endangers the lives of trans kids across the entire state of Utah—a state which already boasts a consistently higher suicide rate among the LGBTQ+ community than the national rate. This bill, which has been held to a lower standard of research than a high school English paper, deprives people I love of care crucial to their livelihood and survival.

So no, I am not terrified about the use of generative AI in classrooms. I am no more afraid of plagiarism than before. I am terrified of the world we live in, where I have been held to a higher standard of academic honesty than my legislators. I am terrified for those who are going to die because of the choices they have made.

Works Cited

Huang, Kalley. “Alarmed by A.I. Chatbots, Universities Start Revamping How They Teach.” New York Times. January 16, 2023.

“LDS Church and Suicide Prevention.” PFLAG.

“Minutes of the House Health and Human Services Committee.” Utah Legislature. January 24, 2023.

Schott, Brian. “Blocking Gender-Affirming Care in Utah Could Be Found Unconstitutional, a Legal Review Found.” Salt Lake Tribune. January 26, 2023.

Wen, Anne. “ChatGPT and Plagiarism: Student Cheating Concerns May Be Overblown.” Teen Vogue. February 13, 2023.

Student Voices

Rowland Hall alum Chloe Jones '11, executive director of UtahPresents at the University of Utah.

Chloe Jones ’11 is back on familiar ground. As the new executive director of UtahPresents, and the assistant dean for art and creative engagement for the College of Fine Arts at the University of Utah, her home base is now Kingsbury Hall.

“I took my first dance class at Tanner Dance when I was two,” Chloe said. “I have vivid memories of being in Kingsbury Hall growing up. It’s surreal to be back on campus in this new capacity.”

I am very committed to continuing our mission of bringing diverse artistic and cultural experiences here to
Salt Lake.
—Chloe Jones ’11

While Chloe’s office may be in Kingsbury Hall, the mission of UtahPresents reaches well beyond the grand staircase that leads to the theater. The organization stages performances and cultural experiences across Salt Lake County with the help of several partner organizations. It is also instrumental in arts education, with programs spanning from kindergarten through high school, and into colleges and universities.

“I was drawn to UtahPresents because of the organization’s strong foundation, and I’m excited to continue building on the successes they have had in the past,” Chloe said. “I am very committed to continuing our mission of bringing diverse artistic and cultural experiences here to Salt Lake.”

Chloe is one of the hundreds of thousands of people who make art possible in communities around the world, but she’s not who you might think of when you think of someone who works in the arts. You may picture an actor or prima ballerina, or an up-and-coming sculptor with a hot new show, and while those people are important, they aren’t all the arts have to offer—and are actually a very small part of the overall puzzle.

“A career in the arts is not only about being a performer,” said Sofia Gorder, Rowland Hall’s arts chair of dance education and Chloe’s former dance teacher. “The way we frame a career in the arts has to really shift and change and recognize that it is part of a larger whole, rather than an isolated marginalized space where very few succeed.”

The opportunity to explore different facets of the arts is one of the reasons Chloe is now with UtahPresents. In her new role, she said she is asking what is possible within the arts, and how to tap into the sense of curiosity that brings people to the spaces where art occurs. “Often younger individuals’ relationship to art is through their own practice of art or through consumption of art,” she said. “There are infinite ways to be an artist or an arts worker. That's the beauty of the arts—the space for imagination, creativity, and innovation is vast.”

And those active in the arts will tell you that art should not be centered around a person or persons in the spotlight, but instead involve entire communities. The more voices and contributions to the process, the richer and more profound it becomes. That is the power of art, and its presence enriches the lives of everyone it touches. This is why schools, including Rowland Hall, so strongly emphasize the importance of arts education.

“Art turns up the volume on our nerves so we confront the world in a way that is more human. It allows us to see the world and feel the world, perceive that world that is richer because of the lenses that art gives us,” said Chloe’s former English teacher Joel Long, who teaches Upper School English and creative writing at Rowland Hall today. “All those things heighten our ability and our vulnerability and allow us to enter the world more fully.”

Chloe also knows it isn’t just how art connects us to the world, but also how it connects us to each other and spurs us to action, making us brave in the times when we are most fearful. “I think the arts give us inroads to understand different social issues,” said Chloe. “They are a critical way of convening and building community around those issues. I feel very strongly we need the arts to inspire us.”

Rowland Hall alum Chloe Jones '11 as an Upper School dance student.

Chloe, left, as a dance student during her time at the Upper School.

Chloe’s education at Rowland Hall laid the groundwork of her arts-filled career. She was a Lifer, or a student who attended the school for 12 or more years. She described the school as her community growing up, and said she is especially thankful she was chosen as a Cumming Scholar in ninth grade. During high school she was a member of the dance company and the co-editor-in-chief of the literary magazine, Tesserae. But it was the more intangible skills she gained that proved to be the most useful.

Rowland Hall made me a critical and curious thinker, and reinforced my love of questions and helped me become more creative and strategic in trying to answer those questions. It was such a nurturing and academically challenging environment, and that combination made me more resilient—and you need to be resilient to pursue a career in the arts.—Chloe Jones ’11

“Rowland Hall made me a critical and curious thinker, and reinforced my love of questions and helped me become more creative and strategic in trying to answer those questions,” she said. “It was such a nurturing and academically challenging environment, and that combination made me more resilient—and you need to be resilient to pursue a career in the arts.”

After Rowland Hall, Chloe attended and graduated from Wesleyan University, and began her career working at the Wesleyan Center for the Arts. From there she went to The Yard, a residency supporting performers and creators on Martha’s Vineyard, where she worked as director of development and associate producer before becoming executive director. Moving through the organization helped her develop skills in fundraising, nonprofit management, curation, and programming. “It was a unique opportunity to invest in the creative process by supporting new work development, while also investing in public programs that build community through the arts,” Chloe said. 

“I’m super proud of her. She has done amazing things,” said Joel of Chloe’s work in the arts. He’s also excited about how these skills promise to now make an impact on Chloe’s hometown. “I am thrilled that she is doing something that will matter to her and could matter to others in relation to the arts,” he said

Now back in Utah, Chloe is certainly applying these early career experiences to her new role. UtahPresents engages more than 45,000 people throughout the Salt Lake Valley in the arts every year through performances, education, and outreach, and Chloe hopes to see those numbers grow and to see experiences diversified. Currently, they are looking at more off-site performances and opportunities like the “Stagedoor” series, where the audience enters from backstage and then sits on the stage to watch the performance.

“It's been energizing to rejoin a campus community at the University of Utah and tap into the sense of curiosity that exists in that environment,” Chloe said. “It is helping me ask the question of what else is possible within the arts. This job really is a homecoming of my dreams.”

It’s a dream homecoming for Salt Lake and the extended community as well. Chloe is set to open doors to a whole new generation of artists, arts sector professionals, and patrons of the arts. Because of her work more people will know what’s possible, and it all started with a Rowland Hall education that never discounted the power of the arts.


Community speakers join Rowland Hall's first STEM Symposium in March 2023.

Dr. Sophie Janes ’12 remembers when she first realized she could have a career in STEM.

“I was in Mr. Hayes’ ninth-grade biology class and it just clicked for me,” she said. “I realized I really liked science.”

Dr. Janes is now an OB/GYN resident at the University of Utah, and she returned to Rowland Hall’s Lincoln Street Campus on March 17 to talk to current students about how they, too, can find a place in science, tech, engineering, and math—or STEM.

We want students to see themselves reflected in different role models and in different fields. We want them to know they can successfully navigate career pathways they are passionate about.—Dr. Chandani Patel, director of equity and inclusion

Dr. Janes, a representative from the medical field, was one of the speakers who attended the school’s first annual The Future of STEM: A Symposium with Local Innovators event, a program held in honor of Women’s History Month. She was joined by physician Dr. Tricia Petzold (medicine) and mathematics professor Dr. Priyam Patel (math), as well as teachers Ben Smith ’89 (computer science), Dr. Padmashree Rida (biology), and Christian Waters (technology); Great Salt Lake Institute Coordinator Carly Biedul (environmental science) was also scheduled to attend, though she had to cancel due to illness. The event was set up so students could meet with women currently working in STEM, learn about various career paths, and find out how to get started on their own pathways to STEM careers, while also supporting peers along the way. The event’s keynote speaker, tech CEO and incoming Rowland Hall Board Chair Sarah Lehman, advised the group to “get comfortable with the uncomfortable,” to not be afraid to stake their claims in fields that interest them, and, when faced with challenges, to "focus on what is important to you and let other things roll off."

The symposium included a goal of encouraging historically underrepresented individuals to pursue their interests in STEM fields, including seeking out mentors who are doing work that is exciting to them. One of the sessions was on how women can navigate these fields, while another explored how to be an ally and make STEM more inclusive to a variety of people. “We want students to see themselves reflected in different role models and in different fields,” said Dr. Chandani Patel, director of equity and inclusion. “We want them to know they can successfully navigate career pathways they are passionate about.” 

Dr. Patel said the STEM symposium was only the first of what she hopes will be many events aimed at bringing community leaders and professionals to the school to share with students career options and opportunities the students may not have even considered. Events like these underscore the importance of building strong partnerships to create learning opportunities, both in and out of the classroom.

“I am so glad to be able to help show them what’s possible and what steps they need to take,” said Dr. Janes. “I want them to be brave and make  the most of the opportunities available to them.”


Rowland Hall graduate Max Smart, class of 2022, and Dr. Padmashree Rida, who contributed to the IJMS.

Rowland Hall equips students with the skills and experiences they need to thrive in a dynamic world. We believe education is active, and that deep, authentic learning experiences engage students in powerful ways, enabling them to view themselves as innovators and creators. Our new vision and strategic priorities are helping to center and formalize this work, but it’s long been a part of the Rowland Hall experience, inspiring generations of students to pursue, create, and share knowledge both in and outside the classroom. In the past year alone, we’ve watched many of our young scientists and engineers, fueled by their personal passions, tackle real-world problems and offer innovative solutions designed to better our shared world. This fall, we’re spotlighting some of their stories. (Be sure to also check out "Ruchi Agarwal Named Runner-up in National Stockholm Junior Water Prize Competition," "Three Rowland Hall Students Place Fourth at International Science and Engineering Fair for Aviation Engine Design," and "Research Science: Taking Classroom Discoveries to the International Level.") 

The below text is an abridged version of this story for Fine Print. If you would like to learn more about the science behind the academic paper highlighted in this story, we invite you to view the full version.

With more than 20 years of experience as a molecular and cell biologist—including over a decade as a breast cancer researcher, with a particular interest in racial disparity among breast cancer outcomes in the United States—Upper School science teacher Dr. Padmashree Rida has had plenty of opportunities to support other scientists.

Prior to joining Rowland Hall in 2021, Dr. Rida worked as a university research scientist, a role that offered her regular opportunities to advise graduate students working on original research and academic papers. A natural-born mentor, Dr. Rida has always enjoyed opportunities to help others blossom in their careers. But she’s also seen how disheartening it can be for scientists who, years into their professional journeys, realize that academic research—a field rife with opportunities for failure in everything from choosing the right hypothesis, to uncovering negative or inconclusive results, to the struggle of getting top-notch journals to publish work, to securing grants—isn’t for them. “There are no guaranteed returns in research; it’s always a gamble,” she said. “You can put in so many years to discover you were barking up the wrong tree.”

When Dr. Rida was invited to contribute to a special issue of the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, she saw an opportunity for a teaching experiment. What if she were to invite one of her Rowland Hall students to assist her? She thought it may be an ideal way to challenge a promising young scientist, exposing them not only to the processes, skills, and risks of real-world research, but also to the nature of scientific collaboration.

So in April, when Dr. Rida was invited to contribute to a special issue of the International Journal of Molecular Sciences (IJMS) focusing on hypoxia, a state of oxygen insufficiency in the body, she saw an opportunity for a teaching experiment. What if she were to invite one of her Rowland Hall students to assist her? She thought it may be an ideal way to challenge a promising young scientist, exposing them not only to the processes, skills, and risks of real-world research, but also to the nature of scientific collaboration, as Dr. Rida would be working closely with one of her long-standing collaborators, Dr. Nikita Jinna, and a group of Dr. Jinna’s colleagues from the City of Hope cancer treatment and research center to write the article. She thought the opportunity could be similar to an internship, allowing a student to try out a career option, risk-free, to get a sense of fit. “They could get their feet wet and ask if it’s for them,” she said.

For the student to do well in this project, though, they would have to have a certain set of skills: a strong biology background, of course, as well as the ability to critically read and write, as they would be reviewing dense academic materials, drawing conclusions, distilling insights, and synthesizing information. Dr. Rida saw these traits in Max Smart, then a senior in her Advanced Topics Biology class.

“Dr. Rida recognized a project like this was perfect for me,” said Max, a Rowland Hall Lifer whose love of the natural world has driven his lifelong interest in the sciences, and who also loves to write. And Max recognized how valuable the experience could be. “I could tell this was a phenomenal opportunity,” he remembered. He said yes and, after completing finals in May, began assisting Dr. Rida, first by helping her and Dr. Jinna look into the role hypoxia may play in patient resistance to androgen receptor inhibition, a treatment option for a subset of patients with a particularly lethal type of cancer: triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). “We knew these treatments often work successfully for a short period, but most patients eventually develop resistance,” explained Dr. Rida. “Consequently, their disease relapses or progresses, and when this happens, we don't have good next-line treatment options for such patients.”

With several lines of evidence supporting their suspicions on hypoxia’s role in therapeutic resistance, the team focused their IJMS article on the topic, hoping their research would help shed light on how and why existing treatments fail, offer a broad view of study results on treatment options, and, because such therapeutic resistance is a problem for some other androgen-signaling-dependent cancers, make progress that could potentially have wide benefits. And though early evidence indicated a promising direction, as they began writing, Dr. Rida, heeding her own experience, made sure to set Max’s expectations. “There’s no guarantee we’ll find anything,” she remembered telling him, “but that’s the gamble with science.” 

That gamble didn’t deter Max, though, who jumped enthusiastically into the project, even, he said, as he faced a series of steep learning curves—beginning with getting acquainted with science writing. After Dr. Rida taught him how to use PubMed, a biomedical literature database, to search for primary literature with clinical trial data, Max remembered initially feeling overwhelmed as he worked to make sense of the jargon, acronyms, and medical terminology within these studies. “These are serious medical publications; it’s no joke,” he said. “It was like hitting a brick wall right out the gate—every sentence is riddled with words that mean nothing to you.” But after Dr. Rida recommended that Max make lists of unfamiliar words, terms, or methods so they could discuss them together, he got better at understanding the complex material. “With Dr. Rida's help, it became second nature,” he remembered. “Her mentorship broke down that brick wall.”

Rowland Hall biology teacher Dr. Padmashree Rida and alum Max Smart '22 on the Lincoln Street Campus in Salt Lake City.

Dr. Rida and Max on the Lincoln Street Campus.

That mentorship continued as Max was challenged in other ways. He had to learn, for instance, how to pull from hundreds of pages of information the hard data that can benefit cancer researchers, and leaned on Dr. Rida’s advice to give himself space to process complicated material before looking for gaps or clarity within it. He also learned from Dr. Rida the importance of reading the literature critically, as well as broadly, to avoid scientific siloing. “Reading broadly allows ideas from different domains to network in ways that allow us to see things anew or from different vantage points,” explained Dr. Rida. So, in addition to reviewing studies on androgen-dependent TNBC, Max looked at studies on androgen-dependent prostate cancer, which behaves similarly to androgen-dependent TNBC and, because it has been researched for longer, offers an array of data on drug options and combinations that might be able to help researchers find what he called the “golden treatment” for TNBC patients. 

Getting Max on board with this collaboration taught him team science—and all good science these days is team science.—Dr. Padmashree Rida, science teacher

Additionally, Max learned firsthand the essential, though often tedious, nature of academic collaboration: how a group of researchers narrows a paper’s focus, finds consensus, reviews drafts prior to submission to a journal for peer review, and revises a manuscript to address reviewers’ feedback and concerns. By letting Max participate in the full process, Dr. Rida was helping to prepare him for success in a world in which the best scientists, no matter their fields or roles, need to be able to go beyond the scope of their individual disciplines to solve problems or create change collaboratively. “We teach science in class, but we don’t talk much about how science is really done, how science is disseminated, and the community behind it,” she said. “Getting Max on board with this collaboration taught him team science—and all good science these days is team science.”

It also taught him the joy of team success. After more than two months of collaborative researching, drafting, peer reviewing, revising, and waiting, “Adaptation to Hypoxia May Promote Therapeutic Resistance to Androgen Receptor Inhibition in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer” was published in IJMS on August 9. When asked what it felt like to see his name listed in an international science journal alongside his mentor’s and five City of Hope researchers only two months out of high school, Max said it was gratifying—but was quick to point out that that gratification went far beyond his personal benefits.

“I hope it’s going to play some small role in this field of research so we can get better treatments for people suffering from cancer,” he said. “If we helped just a tiny bit, that’s really gratifying.”

For Max, who will start at Middlebury College in January after taking a gap semester, it’s clear the experience will drive his professional decisions. Though he’s still deciding what he wants to study, working on this paper taught him how much he values using his passion for science and his love of writing—skills he worked on during his time at Rowland Hall—to help people. “I really appreciated being able to put knowledge and skills I’ve spent my entire academic career honing toward something that is actually going to, hopefully, play one tiny, small part in benefiting people who need good treatment,” said Max. “That was a pretty unique and awesome feeling.”

I really appreciated being able to put knowledge and skills I’ve spent my entire academic career honing toward something that is actually going to, hopefully, play one tiny, small part in benefiting people who need good treatment.—Max Smart ’22

For Dr. Rida, her self-described teaching experiment was also gratifying. Even before the rollout of Rowland Hall’s strategic priorities, she had been thinking about how she can harness her experience, resources, and background to give Upper School students opportunities to help find solutions to real-world problems and to participate in the construction of new knowledge. With this project under her belt, she’s even more aware of how she can best support them. “I learned so much about how to teach about clinical issues, to mentor, how students learn, what misconceptions they may have, and how to explain things,” she said of her time working with Max. She also learned how inspiring it can be to watch a high school student step up to a new challenge. “Max was willing to put in hours and hours of reading and writing, painstakingly plowing through literature,” she said. “Not once did he say, ‘I’m done.’”

And while she knows future experiences might not always be such a good fit, seeing how Max blossomed over their months together—his openness to new ideas, willingness to take risks, ability to successfully take feedback, and determination—showed her that offering them is worth the risk. Moreover, she knows such authentic learning experiences can impact young scientists’ identities, sense of belonging, and understanding of science. Thanks to this opportunity, Max took away an essential life lesson he’s grateful for—and one that will continue to give back to him, whether or not he becomes a researcher himself.

“I certainly got a taste of how some research can end up leaving you with very little to show. It can be discouraging. But then again, what isn't discouraging from time to time?” said Max. “It was an experience that helped teach me that anything you invest time and energy into can end up disappointing when it doesn't always pan out how you want. But when you hit those junctures, you just have to keep persevering.”

Authentic Learning

Former Rowmarker Katie Hensien '18, who is competing at the Olympic Games this month.

We are proud of the Olympians representing Rowmark Ski Academy and Rowland Hall at this month's Olympic Games, which kick off February 4.

Since their earliest days on the mountain, these skiers have been on a journey toward athletic excellence. Being named to their countries’ alpine ski teams is one of the highest honors of their careers, and represents hours of sacrifice and a steady commitment to intense training and competition.

While four of our former athletes qualified for the 2022 Olympics, two will be competing in Beijing this month.

“Unfortunately, Breezy Johnson and Madi Hoffman both sustained season-ending knee injuries while training for the Games and will not be able to compete,” said Todd Brickson, Rowmark Ski Academy program director. “Nevertheless, they qualified for the Olympics and we could not be more proud of Breezy and Madi. Injury is a common reality in our sport and the timing is devastating, but they will be back stronger than ever. Katie Hensien and Katie Vesterstein will carry the Rowmark Ski Academy and Rowland Hall torch, and we will be watching!”

To help the Rowland Hall community prepare to cheer on our former Rowmarkers at the Games, we have provided brief overviews of the Olympians below (as well as a throwback photo for each!).

Team USA: Katie Hensien ’18

Former Rowmarker and 2022 Alpine skiing Olympian Katie Hensien.

Katie Hensien graduated from Rowmark and Rowland Hall in 2018. She is a five-year member of the US Ski Team, and also currently skis for and attends the University of Denver. Katie is originally from Redmond, Washington, and will make her Olympic debut in Beijing. She is the 2020 national champion in giant slalom and was a part of the Junior World Championships team that won the silver medal in the team event in Val di Fassa, Italy.

“Katie is an incredible talent and hard worker, and is someone who always has a huge smile on her face,” said Todd. “She brings incredible energy and positive vibes into every room.”

Update February 9, 2022: Katie placed 26th in slalom.

Team Estonia: Kaitlyn (Katie) Vesterstein ’17

Former Rowmarker and 2022 Alpine skiing Olympian Katie Vesterstein.

Katie Vesterstein graduated from Rowmark and Rowland Hall in 2017. A native of Duluth, Minnesota, Katie is currently a senior at the University of Utah and an All-American member of the university’s national champion ski team. Katie is a dual citizen of the US and Estonia and will be representing Estonia at the Beijing Games.

“Katie is a fierce competitor and incredibly kind teammate who grew up ski racing on the small hills of Minnesota before joining Rowmark and Rowland Hall for two years and propelling herself onto the prestigious University of Utah ski team,” said Todd.

Update February 7, 2022: Katie placed 35th in giant slalom.

Update February 9, 2022: Due to a crash, Katie received a DNF in slalom.

Team Australia: Madison (Madi) Hoffman ’18 (Injured)

Former Rowmarker and 2022 Alpine skiing Olympian Madison Hoffman.

Madi Hoffman graduated from Rowmark and Rowland Hall in 2018. She has been a member of the Australian National Team for several years and is also a two-year member of the national champion University of Utah ski team. Madi is a three-time Australian National Champion in slalom and giant slalom, and was one of only two Aussie women to qualify for the 2022 Olympics in alpine skiing. She had been preparing for this moment with her coach (and former Rowmark head coach) Jim Tschabrun for four years.

“Madi is one of the hardest working and thoughtful young women I have ever had the pleasure to coach,” said Todd. “Her unfortunate knee injury will keep her from competing in this Olympics, but she is a very determined, talented ski racer, and I have no doubt that she will be back stronger than ever."

Team USA: Breezy Johnson ’13 (Injured)

Former Rowmarker and 2022 Alpine skiing Olympian Breezy Johnson.

Breezy Johnson graduated from Rowmark and Rowland Hall in 2013. Originally from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Breezy joined the US Ski Team in 2014 and qualified for her first Olympic Games in 2018, where she placed seventh in downhill and 14th in super-G. Prior to her knee injury, Breezy was a clear medal contender after reeling off seven podium finishes and nine top-fives in her last 10 World Cup downhill races.

“In Breezy's time at Rowland Hall and Rowmark, she was incredibly determined and hardworking, both on the hill and in the classroom. At a young age Breezy had a very strong belief in herself and what was possible for her to achieve,” said Todd. “All I can say is that she is one of the world's best and she will be back with a vengeance.”


Women’s alpine skiing events begin on Monday, February 7. Check out the full Alpine skiing schedule for event information.

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Banner: Katie Hensien competing for Rowmark Ski Academy.


Rowland Hall alum (and YWCA Utah Leader of Tomorrow Award winner) Katie Kern at graduation.

In early September, only days into her first semester at New York University, Rowland Hall alum Katie Kern ’21 was already busy.

Head shot of Rowland Hall alum Katie Kern '21.

Like other first-year students across the country, Katie had been navigating the numerous tasks involved with starting college, from exploring campus and starting classes (she’s currently studying politics) to settling into dorm life and meeting new people—all while adapting to the evolving safety measures of the pandemic, and even dodging severe weather: some of her first days in the city included record-breaking rainfall caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

“The unprecedented hurricane that occurred within my first week of moving in was definitely a little shocking,” said Katie.

Starting college against a backdrop of flooded subways and sidewalks, as well as surging cases of COVID-19, isn’t the preference of any new college student. But instead of giving into what she calls the “heaviness” of global issues like these, Katie has been leaning on her well-established activism experience to look for solutions. Only days after arriving at NYU, whether on coffee dates with new friends or in class lectures, she’s been involved in plenty of conversations aimed at solving tough problems.

For those who know Katie, this isn’t surprising. During her four years at Rowland Hall, she was a blur of the same kind of activity. In addition to a full course load, she was a member of the school’s Roots & Shoots club, Navajo Project, mental health educators, and dance company. Off campus, she interned at Alliance for a Better Utah and taught dance to refugees at a 4-H after-school program. And even with all that going on, Katie also volunteered at least eight hours a week for March for Our Lives Utah, the local chapter of the student-led organization that’s helping to drive US gun reform—a commitment so impressive that, as Katie learned in August, it earned her YWCA Utah’s inaugural Leader of Tomorrow Award, an honor designed to highlight the outstanding volunteerism of Utah women under the age of 19.

“YWCA Utah wants to recognize that activists are doing incredible work while young,” said Lisa Brown Miranda, associate director of admission for Rowland Hall’s Lincoln Street Campus and member of the YWCA Utah Board of Directors.

And to the selection committee, Katie’s work most definitely stood out: as an early supporter of the March for Our Lives movement (she joined as a lead ambassador right after its 2018 founding), Katie was able to play a key role in the Utah chapter’s administration, and was ultimately named state co-director her senior year, alongside fellow high school student Tory Peters. In the co-director role, Katie helped lead difficult but necessary conversations about the toll of gun violence, as well as encouraged legislative change.

“Katie wanted to look for practical ways to approach gun safety,” said Ryan Hoglund, Rowland Hall’s director of ethical education, who taught and mentored Katie, giving him a front-row seat to her dedication to March for Our Lives Utah. “She worked with her peers, took to the airways on KRCL's RadioACTive program [in December 2019 and February 2020], lobbied the Utah legislature, and ultimately developed a school curriculum to increase the awareness of gun safety: what to do if you find a gun as a young child, and how to keep a loved one who is struggling with mental illness and is considering self-harm safe.”

Of the many March for Our Lives projects she supported, Katie said she’s especially proud of the group’s legislative work, including her own experience testifying for universal background checks at the state capitol in February 2020. Even though it was scary, she said, because she knew she’d be speaking to a group largely against gun reform, it underscored her commitment to finding a solution to the country’s gun-violence problems. It also taught her to see activism from a big-picture perspective: she might not be part of the group that gets a reform bill passed, but she’s helping to lay the groundwork.

“Every year we make a little bit of progress,” said Katie. “It’s going to be awhile, and understanding that is important. But we have the utmost determination to get it done, and I’m excited for the future.”

Rowland Hall alum Katie Kern '21 has been active in gun reform in the state of Utah.

"Katie has a sincere love for life and all its challenges and opportunities," said teacher Sofia Gorder. "She believes in action, jumping at the thought of creating change and doing the hard work it takes to actualize vision. She is nothing short of a force." Photos courtesy Krista Kern.

For Lisa, watching Katie receive recognition for her volunteerism is exciting: Lisa first met Katie when she was a prospective ninth grader and remembers being impressed even then by the young student’s early devotion to grassroots work. Knowing Rowland Hall supports, values, and celebrates these kinds of contributions—and works with students to develop their own unique voices—Lisa was thrilled when Katie enrolled in the Upper School, and she spent the next four years enthusiastically watching the young leader do great things, both in the school community and for the state of Utah.

“Katie did everything she thought she was going to do—and more,” said Lisa. “She’s not the kind of person to face a challenge and look for ways to dodge it. She just jumps in, using her gifts to make others’ lives better.”

Katie remembers sharing with Lisa this desire to volunteer at the grassroots level, and noted that she ultimately chose to attend Rowland Hall because she was impressed by our teachers’ obvious passion for their subjects—something she recognized in herself. And Katie credits many Rowland Hall instructors for playing a role in her journey, like history teacher Nate Kogan and English teachers Kody Partridge and Carolyn Hickman for helping her better understand politics and how the legislature works, and Director of Arts and Co-Director of Dance Sofia Gorder for showing her, a longtime and passionate dancer, how arts and activism intersect. She is also grateful to the school for providing safe spaces, whether in classrooms or at the Dinner & Dialogue events Katie helped plan and lead, to practice having the crucial conversations necessary to spark change.

“Rowland Hall gave me a lot of space and independence to do what I wanted, and I did feel supported,” Katie said.

And as evidenced by how she’s already spending her time at college, Katie isn’t slowing down. She plans to continue to devote herself to a variety of movements because, as she explained, “it feels very heavy, all the problems going on.” And she hopes this involvement—and perhaps even her Leader of Tomorrow Award—will encourage others to take action. After all, after spending so much time at the grassroots level, she’s learned how empowering it is to help chip away at problems that, at first glance, seem too enormous to tackle.

I definitely feel hope in moments when community comes together.—Katie Kern ’21

“I hope other young women—or students in general—recognize that they can do something about all these crises, that they can get involved,” she reflected.

And contrary to what some might think, Katie said, it doesn’t take much time to make a difference: she recommends everyone set aside just 10 minutes a day to learn about an issue affecting their community, and then find opportunities to help fix them. This is key, because in a world filled with nonstop news about everything that’s going wrong, having a hand in change is inspiring. In fact, Katie said, it’s these moments—watching communities join together in pursuit of solutions—that make her most optimistic about the future.

“I definitely feel hope in moments when community comes together,” she said.


Rowland Hall alumna, YWCA Utah volunteer, and teacher Monet Nielsen Maggelet ’14 with her husband, alum Drew Maggelet ’13.

Rowland Hall alumna—and longtime dedicated volunteer—Monet Nielsen Maggelet ’14 believes that the practice of giving back is transformative.

“Every time I’ve volunteered, I’ve gotten more out of it than I could ever give,” she said.

Since she was a young student, Monet has donated her time to organizations she cares about. And though she’s done this for several groups over the years, she’s been especially drawn to one: YWCA Utah, the Salt Lake City-based nonprofit whose mission is to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.

Monet remembers Rowland Hall as one important influence in the development of her love of volunteerism. “The Upper School puts a lot of emphasis on volunteering and giving back to your community,” she said.

“The first time I volunteered at YWCA Utah was during high school as part of a project for Kate Taylor's honors English class,” said Monet. “I volunteered with a group of friends to put together a fun event for families living at the shelter.”

In fact, Monet remembers Rowland Hall as one important influence in the development of her love of volunteerism—“The Upper School puts a lot of emphasis on volunteering and giving back to your community,” she said—and that initial experience at YWCA Utah inspired her to continue to support the organization. During college, she led an outreach Girl Scout troop for girls at the shelter, while also studying elementary education, history, and English as a second language (ESL). And after graduation, Monet said, she continued to feel a pull toward the organization, though she wasn’t sure how she could help while navigating the demands of a newly minted teacher.

“I wanted to do something, but it was hard for me to spend as many hours volunteering as a first-year and second-year teacher,” Monet said.

Still, she reached out to the nonprofit to explore ways she could give back, and in 2020 was offered a spot on YWCA Utah’s Board of Directors, which she joined in August of that year. Monet said it’s an honor to be asked to serve in this role and to have the chance to collaborate with YWCA Utah’s Chief Executive Officer Liz Owens, Chief Mission Impact Officer Saundra Stokes, and their team.

“They’re really leading YWCA Utah to make sure the eliminating racism part of our mission is fulfilled,” she said, “and they are always thinking critically about how to have an antiracist lens.”

I don’t think you can ever educate yourself too much. I am continuing to learn and I’m still on my own path, and I know that path is neverending.—Monet Nielsen Maggelet ’14

Monet is also contributing to these conversations: in addition to attending full-board meetings, she sits on two of the board’s committees, Public Policy and Racial Equity and Social Justice, where she lends her experiences, particularly as an educator, to help YWCA Utah fulfill its mission. Monet was even invited to share her perspective on this necessary work in a video the organization recently created for its Stronger Together campaign (see above), which celebrates 115 years of the nonprofit’s service in Utah.

“I truly believe that it’s my duty to be an advocate for all of my students,” Monet said in the video. “I want all of my students of color to know I am working to educate myself and to stand up for them.”

Monet invites members of the Rowland Hall community to also help support this important work: she recommends joining YWCA Utah’s 21-Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge, which begins June 21 and will lead participants on a journey around the core concepts on race equity so that they can have the necessary conversations that will contribute toward making Utah a safer place for everyone.

“I don’t think you can ever educate yourself too much,” Monet said. “I am continuing to learn and I’m still on my own path, and I know that path is neverending.”

Banner photo: Monet with her husband, fellow Rowland Hall alum Drew Maggelet ’13.


Alum Nicholas Miller '14 in Southern Utah, where he and former classmate Camille Backman '14 created their album.

by Heather Ernst ’14

Among the chorus of duetting birds deep in the canyons of Southern Utah, a new duet is echoing off the red sandstone walls. Nicholas Miller ’14 and Camille Backman ’14 have traveled hundreds of miles to be here, on sacred land, and their purpose is a special one: to make music.

This pair’s story began nearly 12 years ago, when Nicholas joined the Rowland Hall community as a middle schooler. Since then, he and Camille have developed a deep friendship around their love for Southern Utah; their shared interest in activism and volunteering, which was nurtured during their time at the school; and their predilection for playing music, sometimes together (when the stars, and their schedules, align).

From a young age, both Nicholas and Camille have had an infectious passion for music. Nicholas found that love playing the guitar, mainly focusing on jazz, but he’s no stranger to experimentation: he’s done everything from play in rock bands to study the sitar in India. Camille, a classically trained violinist, has spent a great deal of her life dedicated to mastering her skills and perfecting her sound. Both have found a great deal of joy in collaborating together and with other musicians, something they’ve done since high school.

“We actually played a duet together at graduation,” revealed Nicholas. “That was the first formal time that we played together.”

Camille Backman and Nicholas Miller playing at their 2014 graduation.

Camille and Nicholas playing at their 2014 Rowland Hall graduation.

After graduation, both continued their study of music, Nicholas at the Lamont Jazz School at the University of Denver and Camille at the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio. Although the pair has been hundreds of miles apart—most recently on two separate continents, as Camille is now working on her master’s degree in Brussels, Belgium—they have always maintained their relationship as friends and musical partners.

“I would say each year that we’ve met up since high school we inevitably have some sort of jam session,” laughed Camille. “It’s so natural—when we spend time together, usually music is somehow being made.”

In fact, their musical connection is so natural that they managed to create their new album, For Other Waters Are Ever Flowing, without even knowing it, while traveling together through Southern Utah in summer 2020.

“I didn’t actually know that we were recording an album when we did it,” chuckled Nicholas, but the creativity flowed and “it ended up being an album’s worth of music.”

For Other Waters Are Ever Flowing consists entirely of improvised music between the violin and guitar, as well as the natural sounds of each location Nicholas and Camille visited during that trip. “Our aim was to find places in Utah with acoustic qualities that we were interested in,” explained Camille.

It became clear to the pair that this project could be a way for them to help spread awareness about the importance of the sacred indigenous lands that spread for miles across the desert of Southern Utah.

Location was a key aspect of this project. Both musicians had previous interest in Southern Utah after having traveled there numerous times growing up. And as they returned in summer 2020 as young adults and spent more time exploring the area’s spaces—rappelling into canyons with their instruments and recording materials strapped to their backs—their interests expanded from acoustic qualities to the history behind those spaces. It became clear to the pair that this project could be a way for them to help spread awareness about the importance of the sacred indigenous lands that spread for miles across the desert of Southern Utah. 

“Part of sharing this album is a way that we can protect indigenous lands while also making them accessible to people,” explained Camille. “Regardless of where you are in the world, you can listen and connect to Utah.”

As the pair explained, they were “trying to communicate with their roots and grapple with homecoming, leaving, returning, and belonging” through this music. Upon entering these wild spaces that mean so much to them, the music allowed for moments of connection with the ecological and cultural histories of the places. Listeners of the album have this experience too. It begins to feel as if the instruments are speaking to you: with each strum of the guitar and bow of the violin, you can feel yourself moving through the canyons, developing a new sense of consciousness and connection to those who lived there before. The abstract blending of sound, ecology, and activism make for an album that speaks to the history of the space in which it was recorded. And the most interesting part of the album is that it cannot be recreated—and it’s not meant to be.

Camille Backman '14 in a slot canyon.

“The music on the album can only happen in certain locations, in the moment it was created,” Camille explained. 

Looking back on her musical career, Camille credits Rowland Hall for giving her the space to build strong relationships. “Rowland Hall does an excellent job of allowing you to develop your interpersonal skills with your mentors and peers,” she reflected. 

Both Nicholas and Camille also credit their mentors from Rowland Hall in preparing them for life’s challenges. “I would definitely have to shout-out to Kody Partridge and Dr. Hickman,” Nicholas said. “Both of their classes made me a better thinker, which has connected to art and creativity for sure.” 

Nicholas and Camille will continue their creative pursuits: Nicholas is currently applying to graduate programs, where he will further his studies in music, and Camille is in her third and final year of her master of music program in Brussels. Looking forward, Nicholas and Camille are anxious and excited to be back on the same continent where they can create more music and collaborate on future projects.

Album art of %22For Other Waters Are Ever Flowing.%22

   Courtesy Bridget Hartman

After many hours of collaboration, as well as editing from two different continents, and with the help of Anthony Peña (mixing) and Bridget Hartman (album artwork), Nicholas and Camille are proud to share For Other Waters Are Ever Flowing. Those interested in buying the album can do so through BandCamp, and 50 percent of the proceeds will go to Utah Diné Bikéyah, an alliance between the five native tribes of Utah who strive to preserve and protect the cultural and natural resources of ancestral Native American lands to benefit and bring healing to the people and the earth. The album is also available on Spotify, YouTube Music, and Apple Music.


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