Kelly Orzechowski, M.D. '94

MPH, George Washington University
MD, St. George’s University School of Medicine
What do you love most about ESHS?
I love many aspects of Seton, but what I love most is its ability to create a diverse yet inclusive learning community.

What is one word that best describes the school? Tell us why you chose that word.
"PERSISTENT." In the words of Calvin Coolidge, "Press on. Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."

Seton embodies persistence
:
  • Seton persists as the only remaining all-girls Catholic school in Prince George's county.
  • Seton fosters an environment where relationships and friendships persist throughout life.
  • Seton instills persistence in students in a supportive learning environment, and among all of the values we can possess, persistence may be the consistent ingredient amongst those who succeed no matter what they are succeeding at.
  • Describe one of your favorite memories of ESHS.

One of my favorite memories is of the annual Seton Christmas pageant that featured faculty, staff, and student cast members. Doc Woodburn was Santa Clause! We would have an early dismissal after the pageant, and my friends and I, appropriately named the "Hormonals" by our parents, would hold our annual overnight Christmas party at the Bergeron family home. This year we celebrated our 24th annual Hormonal Christmas party, which remains steeped in traditions created during our years at Seton.

From your own experiences, why do you believe it was important for you to attend ESHS?
I chose Seton because it was the only school I visited where I felt like students and staff showed an interest in getting to know me, welcomed me with open arms, and offered support to my family and I during a difficult transition from Tennessee. Seton created a community of belonging while recognizing my individuality. At Seton, my school environment felt like an extension of my family.

In what ways did ESHS prepare you for college and life?
Seton's rigorous coursework prepared me extremely well for college academics, but Seton prepared me for life in other important ways. Seton provided a safe, supportive learning environment where I was encouraged to take risks. At Seton, I was blessed with teachers who believed in my ability to succeed, even when I was overcome with self-doubt. Set-backs were seen as necessary for growth, and if a door closed, I was taught to find an open window.

What are the benefits of attending an all-girl's school?
I spent most of my freshman year in a co-ed Catholic high school so I have firsthand experience of both types of schools. I chose Seton for reasons previously mentioned, but initially I viewed the all-girls aspect as a big con on my pros/cons list. Shortly after my enrollment, I began to realize the many benefits of an all-girls education. Below are just a few of those benefits (in no particular order):
  1. Builds Self-Confidence. I received constant encouragement to work hard, to be myself and to take risks. This instilled in me the confidence and ambition to chase my dreams and turn them into reality.
  2. Lasting Relationships. I don't have any sisters, but ESHS gave me some very special ones that I will have the rest of my life.
  3. Develop Leadership Skills. At Seton, female role models and historical figures were always emphasized in our curriculum. Career Day keynote speakers and sessions were filled with inspirational alumnae or local women who were great role models and connections for students. At Seton, a girl occupies every leadership role, from school president to captain of the soccer team to the lead in the school play. In all-girls schools, students are more likely to get involved in extracurricular school activities, and pursue leadership positions.
  4. Academic Achievement. An all-girls environment creates a culture of achievement in which academic progress and individual development is celebrated and valued. Girls’ schools champion the educational needs of girls as a group underrepresented in STEM majors and careers. Essentially, students that attend single-sex schools stop being the audience and become the players!

What would you tell a friend to encourage them to send their child to ESHS?
I would tell her that at Seton, her daughter…
  • will be encouraged to be herself, to celebrate her individuality while understanding how her uniqueness contributes to the success of the larger community;
  • will learn critical thinking skills and be exposed to academic rigor that will serve her well no matter what life path she chooses;
  • will be encouraged to have high aspirations for herself; and
  • will benefit from Seton's diversity-diversity in race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status that will provide her with rich experiences that will help shape who she becomes and what she learns to value.
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