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GA Cooperative Learning Program Goes Virtual with the Help of Alumni

The Germantown Academy Cooperative Learning Program (GACLP) was founded in 2017 as an externship program for Upper School students to gain real world experience in a variety of employment fields within proximity to GA. Since COVID made in-person visits impossible, GACLP went virtual with a series of monthly webinars, beginning in January, designed to inspire Middle and Upper School students with possible career options and feature several GA alumni.  

The first industry spotlight in the series was on architecture with Kate McPhillips '03 who spoke about her career to-date including designing the LaGuardia Airport Central Terminal and receiving the prestigious Women in Construction 40 Under 40 Award. Kate also shared her experience as an undergrad in Rice University’s 5-year architecture program, and how she discovered her passion for architecture at a young age. 

February’s webinar brought Kyle Sonlin ’15 and Mason Wartman ’06 back together to talk about entrepreneurship. Kyle, founder of Security Token Group, and Mason, founder of Rosa’s Fresh Pizza and recent founder of an investing and wealth management venture, first connected after Mason served as a panelist for an entrepreneurship event offered at GA when Kyle was still a student. At that time, Mason spoke about founding Rosa’s Fresh Pizza, a Philadelphia $1-per-slice pizza restaurant which adapted to allow customers to pay-it-forward for another’s slice, as featured on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. The two connected following the event and Mason has since served as a mentor for Kyle as he pursued ventures in blockchain technology, ultimately founding Security Token Group in 2017. Both Kyle and Mason spoke to GA Middle and Upper School students about the importance of persistence, focus, and networking as you start your own business -- no matter the industry.  

“When you meet someone who you connect with, who you’re impressed with, even if there isn’t necessarily an opportunity to work together at that time, but finding ways to maintain those relationships, like Mason and I have, can be really helpful,” Kyle said. 

The next webinar in the series was March’s marketing spotlight with Katie Burkhart '10. Katie is founder and CEO of MatterPulse, a marketing and strategy agency committed to growing purpose and profit for businesses. Katie has distinguished herself in the field of marketing, design and strategy by building purpose-driven brands for her clients. She also spoke to the intersection of business strategy, communication, marketing and tech in communication design, start-up culture, and the importance of strategic thinking and use of digital tools for robust business growth. 

To watch recordings of the webinars, and start connecting with fellow alums, go to www.patriotconnect.net.  

Alums interested in volunteering for events like this can email Engagement Coordinator, Sabrina Pfeiffer, at sabrina.pfeiffer@germantownacademy.org