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Custom Class: post-landing-hero

Winged Lions on the Rise—title page graphic featuring six alumni.

Editor's note: this is one of six profiles republished from Rowland Hall's 2018–2019 Annual Report feature story, "Winged Lions on the Rise." Millennial alumni are finding their voices and already shaping their fields and communities—from physics to film, music to medical innovations, and environmental policy to conservation-minded real estate. Learn how Rowland Hall impacted them, and how they’re impacting the world. From left, Jared Ruga ’06, Claire Wang ’15, Phinehas Bynum ’08, Jeanna Tachiki Ryan ’01, Tyler Ruggles ’05, and Sarah Day ’06.


In her daily fight against climate change, Claire Wang’s weapons of choice include her bicycle, travel utensils, and reusable water bottle.

But the 21-year-old’s real arsenal is her character: her empathy, intellect, and contagious optimism that she wields to mobilize peers, negotiate with institutions, and drive environmental progress locally and nationally. Now, Rowland Hall’s first Rhodes Scholar graduates to the global stage.

There’s no choice but to be hopeful. We have a collective obligation to keep working towards a better future. Giving up would be a selfish act.—Claire Wang ’15

In Claire, the daunting problem of climate change finds a formidable opponent: the former nationally ranked Rowland Hall debater loves what she does and refuses to be discouraged. “There’s no choice but to be hopeful,” she said. “We have a collective obligation to keep working towards a better future. Giving up would be a selfish act.”

Claire was always interested in science and environmentalism; after coming to Rowland Hall in seventh grade, relevant curriculum furthered her interest in climate advocacy, while debate turned her into a policy wonk. In high school, she started volunteering for Utah Clean Energy through a school connection. “That was the moment I realized that I love this work and I want to do it for a living,” Claire said. “Rowland Hall was really supportive of that.” As a senior, she co-organized a press conference—held at the McCarthey Campus and covered by local news outlets—advocating against new fees on solar panels. And just before she finished high school, the Sierra Club asked her to help plan a national youth-led movement for renewable energy.

Claire Wang speaks with a broadcast news reporter at a 2015 press conference on solar panels, held at Rowland Hall.

Claire graduated as valedictorian and accepted a full ride to Duke University, where she majored in environmental science and policy. As a freshman, she worked with college administrators to secure Duke’s official support for renewable-energy policy reform. Then, Duke Energy—a large utility company unaffiliated with the university—announced plans to build a natural-gas plant on the university’s campus. It was the first of eight small-scale gas plants planned for the Carolinas. Claire spent two years fighting the campus plant proposal, and the university suspended the plans in spring 2018. Since then, none of the other North Carolina plants have entered the planning process. “Turning the tide early with the first plant ended up being really impactful,” Claire said.

Claire thrived in community campaigns at Duke and beyond—she even won prestigious Truman and Udall Scholarships in recognition of her work—and envisioned a career in national policy. But a 2018 study-abroad program on climate change and the politics of food, water, and energy spurred a shift. She visited a hydroelectric dam in Vietnam, and an ethnic-minority community displaced because of that dam. She also learned about how extreme weather impacts farmers, from drought in Bolivia to hail in Morocco. Now, Claire wants to reduce financing for fossil-fuel infrastructure, especially in developing countries. “We're not going to be able to achieve a livable climate future without cutting those back,” she said.

Eschew the conventional belief that salaries define successful careers. “Instead, focus on the impact you have on the world,” Claire said. “What you do with your life is not just a job—it’s a legacy.”

That global perspective drove Claire to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship—the oldest award for international study, covering graduate school at England’s University of Oxford. When she learned she’d been selected, Claire was elated, but incredulous. “It was a mix of nervousness, excitement, pride, and a general sense of, ‘Wait, did this actually happen?’”

Claire will be at Oxford for two years, starting with a one-year master’s in environmental change and management. She expects to land in policy, perhaps working for the government or an international group. Regardless, she’ll be doing work that’s meaningful to her, and she encourages other young people to follow suit: eschew the conventional belief that salaries define successful careers. “Instead, focus on the impact you have on the world,” she said. “What you do with your life is not just a job—it’s a legacy.”


Top photo: Claire in front of the United States Capitol. Over the summer, Claire interned with the Natural Resources Defense Council as part of the Truman Scholars' Summer Institute.

Alumni

Claire Wang ’15: Rhodes Scholar, Climate Advocate
Winged Lions on the Rise—title page graphic featuring six alumni.

Editor's note: this is one of six profiles republished from Rowland Hall's 2018–2019 Annual Report feature story, "Winged Lions on the Rise." Millennial alumni are finding their voices and already shaping their fields and communities—from physics to film, music to medical innovations, and environmental policy to conservation-minded real estate. Learn how Rowland Hall impacted them, and how they’re impacting the world. From left, Jared Ruga ’06, Claire Wang ’15, Phinehas Bynum ’08, Jeanna Tachiki Ryan ’01, Tyler Ruggles ’05, and Sarah Day ’06.


In her daily fight against climate change, Claire Wang’s weapons of choice include her bicycle, travel utensils, and reusable water bottle.

But the 21-year-old’s real arsenal is her character: her empathy, intellect, and contagious optimism that she wields to mobilize peers, negotiate with institutions, and drive environmental progress locally and nationally. Now, Rowland Hall’s first Rhodes Scholar graduates to the global stage.

There’s no choice but to be hopeful. We have a collective obligation to keep working towards a better future. Giving up would be a selfish act.—Claire Wang ’15

In Claire, the daunting problem of climate change finds a formidable opponent: the former nationally ranked Rowland Hall debater loves what she does and refuses to be discouraged. “There’s no choice but to be hopeful,” she said. “We have a collective obligation to keep working towards a better future. Giving up would be a selfish act.”

Claire was always interested in science and environmentalism; after coming to Rowland Hall in seventh grade, relevant curriculum furthered her interest in climate advocacy, while debate turned her into a policy wonk. In high school, she started volunteering for Utah Clean Energy through a school connection. “That was the moment I realized that I love this work and I want to do it for a living,” Claire said. “Rowland Hall was really supportive of that.” As a senior, she co-organized a press conference—held at the McCarthey Campus and covered by local news outlets—advocating against new fees on solar panels. And just before she finished high school, the Sierra Club asked her to help plan a national youth-led movement for renewable energy.

Claire Wang speaks with a broadcast news reporter at a 2015 press conference on solar panels, held at Rowland Hall.

Claire graduated as valedictorian and accepted a full ride to Duke University, where she majored in environmental science and policy. As a freshman, she worked with college administrators to secure Duke’s official support for renewable-energy policy reform. Then, Duke Energy—a large utility company unaffiliated with the university—announced plans to build a natural-gas plant on the university’s campus. It was the first of eight small-scale gas plants planned for the Carolinas. Claire spent two years fighting the campus plant proposal, and the university suspended the plans in spring 2018. Since then, none of the other North Carolina plants have entered the planning process. “Turning the tide early with the first plant ended up being really impactful,” Claire said.

Claire thrived in community campaigns at Duke and beyond—she even won prestigious Truman and Udall Scholarships in recognition of her work—and envisioned a career in national policy. But a 2018 study-abroad program on climate change and the politics of food, water, and energy spurred a shift. She visited a hydroelectric dam in Vietnam, and an ethnic-minority community displaced because of that dam. She also learned about how extreme weather impacts farmers, from drought in Bolivia to hail in Morocco. Now, Claire wants to reduce financing for fossil-fuel infrastructure, especially in developing countries. “We're not going to be able to achieve a livable climate future without cutting those back,” she said.

Eschew the conventional belief that salaries define successful careers. “Instead, focus on the impact you have on the world,” Claire said. “What you do with your life is not just a job—it’s a legacy.”

That global perspective drove Claire to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship—the oldest award for international study, covering graduate school at England’s University of Oxford. When she learned she’d been selected, Claire was elated, but incredulous. “It was a mix of nervousness, excitement, pride, and a general sense of, ‘Wait, did this actually happen?’”

Claire will be at Oxford for two years, starting with a one-year master’s in environmental change and management. She expects to land in policy, perhaps working for the government or an international group. Regardless, she’ll be doing work that’s meaningful to her, and she encourages other young people to follow suit: eschew the conventional belief that salaries define successful careers. “Instead, focus on the impact you have on the world,” she said. “What you do with your life is not just a job—it’s a legacy.”


Top photo: Claire in front of the United States Capitol. Over the summer, Claire interned with the Natural Resources Defense Council as part of the Truman Scholars' Summer Institute.

Alumni

Explore Our Most Recent Stories

The Rowland Hall Roots & Shoots club meets Jane Goodall.

By Samantha Paisley, Class of 2021 

In October 2019, the Rowland Hall Roots & Shoots club had an incredible opportunity when, through the connections made by biology teacher Rob Wilson, they were invited to a lecture given by Dr. Jane Goodall at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law. Samantha Paisley, co-president of the club, and four other members attended this event and met Dr. Goodall. Below, Samantha reflects on the experience and shares how Dr. Goodall inspired her.

We were all so excited for the opportunity to listen to Dr. Jane Goodall. I took notes, trying to capture every bit of knowledge that was being absorbed by the room. Every time I looked around, the audience was captivated, fixated, listening. We learned about her childhood and her lifelong love for animals. We learned that as a young woman she had followed her passions and, once she had saved enough money to get on a boat in England, she went straight to Tanzania. 

Dr. Goodall’s research redefined what it means to be human.

As I write this reflection on Mother’s Day, I am looking back at Jane’s origin story and am in awe of the amount of support she got from her mother, Margaret Joseph. Her mother was the one who got her her first animal book when she was little, and her mother encouraged her to hop on a boat with very few plans. It was also her mother who saw Jane’s love for animals. Margaret knew what Jane was capable of, and she did whatever she could to help her daughter follow her dreams. Mind you, this was in the 1960s. And Margaret was onto something, as Dr. Goodall’s research redefined what it means to be human.

After the lecture, our club was led out the back entrance of the room, down a very long hallway, down some stairs, and finally ushered into a waiting room with other small groups. The Rowland Hall Roots & Shoots club was then escorted into a brightly lit conference room. At once, Dr. Goodall walked into the room. The first thing she said was, “Bahh please, you must turn these lights off. There is no need for ceiling lights when we have beautiful natural daylight!” That's all I needed to hear. After that one sentence, I was satisfied. I was standing less than 10 feet away from Dr. Goodall, and she had captivated the room by walking in and noticing that the lights didn't need to be on in the middle of that day. I have never met anyone with such influence. I guess if someone is an icon it doesn't really matter what they do. Nevertheless, I couldn't have been more humbled to meet such a well-known woman who cared more about the lights and conserving energy than she did about fame and popularity.

She sat down right next to me and asked us what we were doing with our club. I told her my co-president Elena Barker and I had designed our chapter of the Roots & Shoots club as an educational platform to teach lower schoolers the importance of the environment. I told her about the learning games we played with the kids at the Sunnyvale Neighborhood Center’s aftercare program. 

I know Dr. Goodall wouldn’t stop even if the entire world were shut down. Therefore, during this time I have not stopped being conscious of my carbon footprint and I try to minimize how much plastic I use on a daily basis. I have also continued to brainstorm ideas for next year, which will hopefully be the best year the Rowland Hall branch of the Roots & Shoots club has ever seen.

She thought this was good but something told me it wasn't good enough. To put Dr. Goodall’s influence into perspective, at the age of 86, she travels almost every day, all around the world, spreading her message. She must be exhausted, but activism and the education of the youth of the world are most important to her. It's incredible that after she gives a talk, she then takes the time to sit down with a few high schoolers to discuss how to best educate little kids on the importance of protecting the environment. The conversation didn’t feel rushed or artificial either. I sensed she genuinely cared.

Elena and I took her motivation to heart. We needed to be doing more, but it needed to be meaningful. So we decided to continue with our theme of education, with a goal to connect our community, just like Dr. Goodall had connected the world. In addition to the Lower School kids, we set our sights on influencing a tougher crowd—sixth graders. We joined the sixth grade on a snowshoe hike to learn about the watershed, the trees, and the animals in the Wasatch. We had plans to play interactive games similar to the ones we created with Sunnyvale. We were also planning a trail cleanup and maintenance day with them this spring. Unfortunately, everything was canceled due to COVID-19. But I know Dr. Goodall wouldn’t stop even if the entire world were shut down. Therefore, during this time I have not stopped being conscious of my carbon footprint and I try to minimize how much plastic I use on a daily basis. I have also continued to brainstorm ideas for next year, which will hopefully be the best year the Rowland Hall branch of the Roots & Shoots club has ever seen.


Top photo, from left: Rob Wilson, Grace Smith, Katie Kern, Dr. Goodall, Samantha Paisley, and Heidi Paisley.

Ethical Education

Children playing four square on Rowland Hall's campus.

In the newest episode of princiPALS, Emma and Jij discuss how to talk to kids about race.

Kids are noticing race and racial differences all the time, and they’re getting messages about race and racial differences all the time. It’s our job as grownups to positively and proactively give them messages about race too.

Depending on your background and experiences, this topic may feel uncomfortable or unpleasant—especially if you’ve never been exposed to these kinds of discussions before. But, as the princiPALS explain, kids are naturally curious and need help processing what they see around them, so caregivers need to learn to embrace these moments.

“Kids are noticing race and racial differences all the time, and they’re getting messages about race and racial differences all the time,” said Jij. “It’s our job as grownups to positively and proactively give them messages about race too.”

Join Jij, Emma, and host Conor Bentley ’01 as they unpack common fears around talking about race and bias (including the role socialization plays), explore studies on kids and race, and identify tips that will help listeners feel more prepared to have these conversations when they come up.

PrinciPALS episode 3 is available for download on Rowland Hall's websiteStitcher, or Apple Podcasts.

Episode Resources
The princiPALS recommend the following resources on talking to children about race:
    •   The National Association for the Education of Young Children’s anti-bias education website
    •   Sesame Workshop’s Identity Matters study

    •   NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

    •   PBS Utah’s Let’s Talk: Talking to Kids About Race


They also recommend the work of the following anti-bias educators/authors:
    •   Lisa Delpit

    •   Louise Derman-Sparks
    •   Robin DiAngelo

Podcast

Crustacean Legislation: Fourth Graders Petition Utah to Make Brine Shrimp a State Symbol

Introduction by Marianne Love, Fourth-Grade Teacher

Fourth grade at Rowland Hall is all about Utah. As we studied both brine shrimp and the legislative process this year, we thought, What better time than distance learning to combine the two?!

After learning how bills become laws, students took it upon themselves to petition our state government to make the brine shrimp the official crustacean of Utah. Who would ever think a landlocked state could possibly have a state crustacean? Students used their persuasive-writing skills to craft letters to our governor and state legislators. Below, Dean Filippone’s letter is one shining example of what a dedicated Rowland Hall fourth grader can create.


May 6, 2020

Dear Governor Herbert, State Representatives, and State Senators:

I am a student at Rowland Hall in fourth grade and I am writing to you because I love the state of Utah. I only have one suggestion to make Utah even better: we can become the only landlocked state in the United States of America that has a state crustacean. The crustacean l nominate is the brine shrimp.

Brine shrimp are like people of Utah in that we are both persistent and don’t give up.

Dean with his letter to state lawmakers.

   Dean with his letter to state lawmakers.

There are many cool facts about brine shrimp that remind me about Utah and the great people in it. For example, did you know that a brine shrimp is barely the size of a pencil eraser, yet because there are so many in the Great Salt Lake, their combined weight is more than 13,000 elephants? It reminds me of Utah because we are all very small in the face of the world, but when we work together we can do even the hardest things.

Another reason that brine shrimp should be the Utah state crustacean is because they’ve been around for over 600,000 years! Brine shrimp are part of this great state’s history, and should be acknowledged as a state crustacean!

Brine shrimp are like people of Utah in that we are both persistent and don’t give up. In fact, brine shrimp can survive at 221 Fahrenheit for two hours and still live. The cysts can even survive for 25 years without food! Utahns have survived a lot of persecution; not to mention challenges with the weather and having to form communities in the high mountains and mountain deserts. Brine shrimp and the people of Utah are tough!

Brine shrimp are very rare. Do you know that only Utah and California have brine shrimp in the United States?

It would be an honor to be the first landlocked state to have a state crustacean! Currently, there are only six states that have a state crustacean. They are: Oregon, Maryland, Texas, Maine, Alabama, and Louisiana. All of these six states are on the water. Unlike these states, Utah is landlocked so we would be unique as the first landlocked state to ever have a state crustacean. 

The final reason l hope you will consider is that brine shrimp are very rare. Do you know that only Utah and California have brine shrimp in the United States? It would be special to have them as our crustacean. These are dark days with COVID-19 so we should celebrate all nature and other things to make us feel better.

Thank you for your consideration, and l hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely,
Dean


Top image: Teacher Marianne Love wades in the Great Salt Lake during a fourth-grade field trip to Antelope Island in May 2018.

student voices

Members of the class of 2020 high-five Lower Schoolers at Rowland Hall's August 2019 convocation.

While this class has faced unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic that hit during their senior year, we know that their heightened resilience from this experience—alongside their dedication to academics, passion projects, and volunteerism—will serve them all their lives.

Rowland Hall’s class of 2020 is made up of 78 passionate, driven young adults. During their time at our school, they have grown in confidence and competence, both inside and outside our classrooms, and their many achievements embody our vision of inspiring students who make a difference. While this class has faced unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic that hit during their senior year, we know that their heightened resilience from this experience—alongside their dedication to academics, passion projects, and volunteerism—will serve them all their lives.

Members of the class of 2020 embraced opportunities to connect their coursework with the larger world. Many explored potential careers through internships at organizations like The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital, HawkWatch International, McNeill Von Maack, Red Butte Garden, the office of Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, Intermountain Nurse Midwives, and Alliance for a Better Utah. Some used classroom experiences as inspiration for writing op-eds on subjects from overlooked sports figures to gun safety, while others combined in-class topics with critical thinking and communication skills at the lectern—the class of 2020 includes several top-tier debate students, including four state champions, five national qualifiers, six Academic All-Americans, and three qualifiers to the Tournament of Champions, two of whom finished in the top 15 this year.

Winged Lion seniors led our athletics program to top-five finishes in the Deseret News’ 2A All-Sports Awards each year of their Upper School careers. They captured 26 Region and seven State titles as teams. Eleven of our seniors were named All-State, with one named State 2A MVP in her sport; 10 earned All-Region honors; and four were selected to play in postseason All-Star games. Sixteen Academic All-State and 13 Academic All-Region honorees led their teams to top-three recognition for their sports in the Top 2A Team GPA award over the past four years. Of the five seniors in Rowmark Ski Academy, four competed in the US Junior National Championships in February and all qualified for the FIS Western Region Junior Championships. Their ski-racing successes this past season include 25 total FIS top-10 finishes and seven podiums in a season where the final month of competition, including year-end championship races, was cancelled. Without a doubt, this list of Rowmark and Winged Lion athletics accomplishments would have been longer had the season not ended prematurely.

Our students dedicated their time to various passion projects, from designing robots and rockets, to creating a computer program to defeat partisan gerrymandering in Utah, to applying for a 501(c)(3) to create an alpine ski racing nonprofit for under-resourced girls.

Our students dedicated their time to various passion projects, from designing robots and rockets, to creating a computer program to defeat partisan gerrymandering in Utah, to applying for a 501(c)(3) to create an alpine ski racing nonprofit for under-resourced girls. Others were active on the Rowland Hall campus, volunteering as tutors, heading sustainability initiatives, starting affinity groups for black and Asian students, acting as ambassadors for admission or college counseling, and serving on the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee.

Many artists make up this year’s graduating class: painters, graphic designers, illustrators, filmmakers, writers, a jewelry designer, and dancers whose studies vary from ballet and contemporary to Cretan, classical Indian, and Tibetan styles. This class’ talented musicians include competitive pianists, violinists, and a bassist—one pianist’s superior scores earned her the privilege of playing in the Utah Federation of Music Clubs’ honors recital and the Utah Music Teachers Association recital. One young author penned an essay on political civility that was published in The Salt Lake Tribune after winning the top prize in Westminster College's annual Honors College Statewide Essay Contest. A budding thespian helped write an original musical as a member of the University of Utah’s Youth Conservatory.

The class of 2020’s commitment to volunteerism cannot be overstated. Our students have made a difference for dozens of organizations.

The class of 2020’s commitment to volunteerism cannot be overstated. Our students have made a difference for dozens of organizations like the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake, Preservation Utah, LDS Hospital, Summit Land Conservancy, the Muslim Community Center of Utah, Friends of Alta, the Navajo Nation, and the Salt Lake City Sanctuary Network. They spent summers serving communities in China, Fiji, Thailand, and Vietnam. One student started a local chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, while another raised thousands of dollars for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This year, a Rowland Hall senior was awarded Utah Youth Volunteer of the Year in recognition of his years of commitment to Jewish Family Service.

Many of our seniors also held jobs while in school, including working as bussers, hosts, baristas, spin and dance instructors, a certified nursing assistant, and a mountain adventure guide. One student plays in a jazz band for local events, while another ran electrochemistry lab experiments for graduate students.

The future is bright for the 78 seniors in this graduating class. Our graduates earned admission to 128 different colleges and universities, and 78% of them received at least one merit scholarship to attend college. A few have chosen to take a gap year to work or pursue personal interests. Whatever their next steps, we know these experiences will serve as stepping stones on their journeys to living lives of purpose and impact.

Congratulations, class of 2020! You have accomplished so much already, and we know you’re just getting started.


Top photo: Members of the class of 2020 high-five Lower Schoolers during the August 2019 convocation.

Students

You Belong at Rowland Hall