Kaoru (Class of 2012)


“I graduated ISSH in 2012. I am based in Brussels, Belgium. I work as a junior analyst and my job is to coordinate and manage working groups for an industry organization. Our membership is made up of telecom companies and we help drive their sustainability and human rights strategies by conducting studies and developing digital tools to help achieve their goals. 

 There are so many ways that Sacred Heart helped me get to where I am today, but if I have to focus on one thing it would have to be how Sacred Heart helped me in becoming confident in myself and the things that I stood for. There is something really special when you have teachers, administrators, and staff who help build up young women in this type of environment. It’s important especially in my sector, which is mostly made up of older men, I have always been the youngest person in the room and often times, I was one of just a handful of women in the room. There were times when I would get pushed aside just because I had less experience but when I was asked for my opinion, I really knew my stuff. Because of that, I was able to show my competence and confidently share my opinions. I think this confidence had to build up gradually, but it started from my days at Sacred Heart. 

The extracurricular activities really helped steer me in the right direction. Namely, drama, Sparx, and band. From drama, I learned how to work with different types of people and to always be on my toes. Having a person like Mr. Hagans challenged me and my group because he threw scenarios at us and taught us how to do improv. Of course, they were fun, but thinking back now, I realize that those classes helped a lot. And again, going back to my confidence, it helped me navigate social interactions. It showed me how much I loved working with people and working towards common goals. It’s so relevant to the work I do now because I handle memberships and external affairs. So you have to be very flexible, empathetic towards people. Sparx and band taught me basic management skills – event management, project management. That’s a large bulk of what I do now. You have to be a really good multitasker. Of course, back in high school, I looked at these as fun classes to explore the arts but it’s actually because of these activities that I am very level-headed now when I do project management and event management. 

I miss the teachers a lot. I think that’s why I keep coming back. The teachers are the foundation of the school. We are very lucky to be able to build a strong relationship with our teachers and it helps that we have such a small class size. 

It was a challenge for me to get out of that international school bubble. It is very important for us to recognize that our environment and our school is not the norm. We are very lucky to have all these friends from different, beautiful cultures but that’s not how the rest of the world is. So when I moved to the US for college there needed to be a conscious effort on my part to reach out to people who have had different experiences and empathize and understand how they lived. By doing so, I ended up finding issues that I was very passionate about. I put my energy into that when I lived in Boston. I got interested in homelessness, public school education, and human rights.

You shouldn’t be so hard on yourself and you need to seek things that you are passionate about. I know it’s easier said than done when there are all these external forces telling you otherwise. But it’s ok to be unsure. I honestly wasn’t sure by the time I graduated. I had so many interests. I think students need to give themselves time to explore things. In the meantime, when you are exploring you should choose areas that help you build the right skills until you figure out a path that works for you. So for example, I wasn’t sure about my path, but in the first year of college I ended up taking courses that would end up benefiting me no matter which path I took. Everything will work out as it should as long as you keep doing what you are interested in.” – Kaoru