Class of 1996
Aimee Kelley graduated from Oak Grove in 1996 and now lives in Paris, France, with her husband and two children. She shares her Oak Grove memories.
I arrived at Oak Grove School when I was nine years old and was lucky enough to stay through high school. On a recent trip home to California, I brought my two children to campus so they could see where I’d spent my most formative years. They marveled at the amount of space and trees, so foreign to our busy neighborhood in Paris where we live. I realized that they were still too young to understand the true nature of a school, which is, as my high school director Meredy Benson Rice said during my graduation ceremony, a possibility.
Each educational experience of mine has been one possibility leading to another. After studying English at UC Berkeley, I moved to New York, where I received an MFA in poetry at The New School, working for different nonprofit arts organizations along the way. A few years later I returned to California and studied at the University of California, College of the Law, where I received my J.D. and practiced health care law at a firm. In 2015, my husband took a job in Paris, and we relocated for what was meant to be a two-year stay. Eight years later, we’ve built a life here for ourselves and our two children. I’ve been fortunate enough to complete my Master of Public Health (MPH) on a part-time basis and am now midway through a PhD in social work, researching school well-being support for refugee and migrant students in Europe.
At these junctures in life, I’ve found the possibility and made it my own, something I attribute to my education at Oak Grove. My path up until now may seem like a meandering journey. I didn’t climb a ladder to reach a specific point like many of my peers did — I’m not a partner at a law firm or a prize-winning poet or head of a research lab. Usually, when the ladder pointed up I turned it sideways or jumped off entirely because that was the right choice for me. I’m able to do this because of Oak Grove, where I was encouraged to listen to myself and to be my authentic self. I see this in my OGS peers, too — we learned to be courageous, to see possibility and take the path best suited for us, even if it wasn’t always the one most people took. This confidence with which we face the world is one of the things I am most proud of as an Oak Grove alum. I carry it with me wherever I am and always will.
“I’m able to do this because of Oak Grove, where I was encouraged to listen to myself and to be my authentic self.”
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