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Alum Council members find fulfillment—and friendship

by Alexandra Badie ’14, Alum Council Communications Co-Chair

Giving back is its own reward, but new friends are a bonus

We all know how hard it can be to make friends as adults. We have our regular pals and routines, and we don’t have those built-in opportunities we had when we were younger and everyone was at similar life stages. This past year, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of having a supportive group of family and friends to stave off isolation and loneliness. Here, some Mayfield graduates share how the often unexpected friendships they’ve made through serving on the Alum Council have been a hidden—and very welcome!—bonus of giving back to their alma mater. 
For decades, the Alum Council has served as a hub for connecting graduates across generations—a place to strengthen old friendships and form new connections through service and sisterhood. Hosting reunions, networking mixers, sports match-ups, book clubs, volunteer projects and more, the Alum Council brings together grads of all ages, from the 1960s to the 2010s as an extended family of Mayfield friends and mentors. But many alums need a nudge from a fellow graduate to consider joining! 

For Adriann Grieco Cocker ‘93, it was her classmate and friend Mary Jackson Corey ’93 who convinced her to check out the Alum Council. Mary assured Adriann it was a way to reconnect with schoolmates and find new ways of giving back. And the Council soon exceeded Adriann’s expectations, helping her forge new connections, sometimes in the most unexpected ways. For instance, soon after Adriann heard Nancy McAniff Annick ‘81 speak at an Alum Council-sponsored Networking Mixer, she invited Nancy to become her estate planner. Adriann explained that Nancy went, “above and beyond in helping us to properly plan for our future and ensuring that we met an adulting milestone.” Adriann realized there was a built-in feeling of trust in this network of former Mayfield students, adding, “There’s an immediate sense of kinship with other council members, regardless of the decade.” 

It was Adriann’s turn to share the love. At her 20th class reunion in 2013, Adriann asked classmate Tess Lacuesta Kinderman ‘93 if she would be interested in joining the Alum Council too. Tess had very young kids at the time, and she thought it would be a great opportunity to engage with her alma mater in a relaxed and flexible way. Eventually Tess became more and more involved, helping out on many service projects, becoming the Service Co-Chair, leading the group’s outreach to the Good Shepherd Shelter and the Holy Child-sponsored Los Angeles Ministry Project (LAMP). 

The service element of the Alum Council was also a major draw for Irene Izquerido Patterson ‘83. “I saw that the work with the Good Shepherd Shelter at Halloween, Christmas and Easter was something I could do even with small children in tow,” says Irene. “My daughter Anna—Class of 2011—went with me as a grade school student to many events.”

Irene also loved mentoring fellow alums. When Christina Yamasaki ‘03 earned her teaching credentials, Irene helped her get her first job. Christina reflects fondly on the way the Alum Council brought them together. “Irene and I are very good friends now,” says Christina. “And because of our friendship, I am now good friends with her daughter, Anna Patterson ’11. Neither of them are people I would know outside of the Alum Council because of our age differences!” 

Irene explains the immediate sense of comfort she found in returning to the Mayfield community. “The school has changed so much but it remains familiar in so many ways. It helps me stay connected to something that played an important part in shaping who I became,” says Irene. “Going back to campus is like going home for me, as corny as that sounds.”

Tess has experienced that sense of homecoming at Mayfield as well. She vividly recalls the moment she and her husband ran into Angela Howell ‘76, who is now Mayfield’s Associate Head of School for Strategic Initiatives, some time back. Angela asked Tess how she and her sister [Marylou Lacuesta Holly '94] were both doing, citing specific details about each of their lives—although it had been many years since they had seen each other. Her husband was shocked at the familiarity and connection still present years later. Tess said, “Mayfield is your home not just when you are there, but when you’re an alum.” 

Many of the Alum Council’s operations changed as a result of COVID-19, but the move to virtual meetings was a game-changing shift. Many alums who don’t live locally were so thrilled to be able to join in from afar that online meetings will now be a permanent fixture on the council’s calendar.

Alexandra Badie ‘14, who lives in Orange County, has taken full advantage of this virtual option. This past December, while attending Mayfield’s Virtual Alum Council Christmas party, she struck up a conversation with Alum Council President Carolyn Cota ‘06, who graduated eight years before her. The two became fast friends. Carolyn remembers their encounter well. “After the party, a few members and I stayed online just chatting and catching up. It was the first time I had really been able to chat with Alexandra and we instantly clicked. We exchanged numbers and started texting and discovered a mutual love of ‘Bridgerton,’ similar families, and many other things in common,” says Carolyn. “Even though we don’t remember ever having met in person, she's become one of my best friends, and I definitely have the Alum Council to thank for our friendship!”

Alexandra is also a member of the Alum Council Book Club, where she has been able to reconnect with Julie Sanchez Brehove ‘11 and Elizabeth Sanchez ‘11, who overlapped for just a year with her at Mayfield. Julie is now a freshman English teacher at Mayfield and delights the club with her literary insights and her adorable cat, Miss Kelly Pusheen.

“Mayfield is such a unique and special place that there are so many things that transcend the generations of alums...There’s a sense of family and sisterhood that my friends who didn’t attend Mayfield don’t understand, but that my fellow alums do,” says Carolyn. “I think Mayfield also helped instill values that have stayed with us into adulthood and it’s so nice to meet a group of like-minded women who want to look out for and help each other.” 

Irene tends to agree. “I like the connection and friendships, and Nicole Cosand Burcham certainly has been a wonderful leader in making us all feel welcome when we are there.” Adriann can’t recommend the Alum Council enough. “The support from Council members has been immense as I journey through the stages of life. Of course it has been so fun to connect with old classmates and teammates, but it is also great to connect with those from the different decades at Mayfield Senior School. Insights, wisdom and friendship are treasures from my time on the Council.” 

No matter your age or time away from Mayfield, the Alum Council’s doors are always open to you, virtually and in person. And whether you are looking for service, networking or support, the Alum Council is a wonderful resource. So consider attending a mixer, volunteering at a service project, or even joining the Council yourself! There are so many ways that you can reconnect with the Mayfield community and forge friendships along the way.
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JOIN US! Our final Alum Council meeting of the 2020-21 year is on Wednesday, June 16 at 6 p.m. PST via Zoom (Passcode: 022912)—we welcome all alums to attend! Please contact Nicole Cosand Burcham, Director of Alum Engagement, or Malissa Balderama ’09, the Alum Council’s VP of Membership, for more information.
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Established in 1931, Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena, CA is a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school for young women grades 9-12. Noted for its rigorous academic program, which includes 28 Advanced Placement and Honors courses, Mayfield’s curriculum is underscored by a philosophy of educating the “whole child,” which also encourages commitment to and excellence in the arts, athletics, community service and spiritual growth. The nurturing environment at Mayfield Senior School allows each student to flourish in an atmosphere of personal attention.