20 for 20: Confidence, courage, and community – A conversation with Isabel Squier, SGS Alum Class of 2017

In celebration of Seattle Girls’ School’s 20th anniversary, we continue our 20 Years, 20 Stories series with a conversation with alum Isabel Squier! Isabel graduated from SGS in 2017 and is now off to Dartmouth College. Isabel talks about how SGS helped prepare her for high school and gave her the confidence to take on whatever comes her way. At SGS, Isabel found a close-knit community among teachers and peers and was able to be a part of projects, groups, and events that made her time at SGS a unique and memorable middle school experience.

Can you tell us what stood out to you about your experience with the school? 

Looking back, what comes to mind is how the school focuses on confidence building and being confident as a woman in many different spaces, and I think that really helped me going into high school. We did a lot of public speaking and leadership at SGS, and having those experiences in middle school helped me avoid the self-confidence issues that a lot of teenage girls deal with. I also grew up in a primarily white area of Seattle, so going to a diverse middle school made me feel like I had more of a community. 
Are there any significant moments or events that stand out to you during your years at SGS?

There are a few things that come to mind. In 7th grade, we did Mock Trial, and I really enjoyed that and continued to do Mock Trial throughout high school as well. The whole feeling of presenting in a courthouse was a very special experience, especially for being in middle school. I also think about the culmination project, Pay it Forward, and how our teachers allowed us to have a lot of creative liberties and take risks. They had a lot of trust in us, and I was able to see what I was capable of doing without a lot of structure. 
Tell us about the relationships you built with teachers, students, and other staff during your years there. How were those relationships influential in your life?

Yea, I definitely got to be close to certain teachers. I was in IMPUHWE, so I was able to spend a lot of time with Wendy, and she is one of my favorite teachers ever. I was also close with my math teacher, Darin, or “Ms. D,” who led the Mixed Chicks affinity group. Because of the small class sizes, it was easy to form those close connections with teachers. 

Can you tell us more about the groups at SGS that you were a part of? 

The affinity group, Mixed Chicks, was a group for students who were multiracial, and it was a really cool community to have that you don’t have in a lot of spaces. Within the group we all had similar experiences of being mixed race, but we were also very different and came from different cultures. We would do a Thanksgiving potluck and there would be food from all over the world, and the food was just so good. It was always cool to be able to talk and joke with girls who had those similar experiences.
As I mentioned briefly, another group that I was a part of was IMPUHWE, which I joined in 5th grade after I did a project on Rwanda and a teacher suggested I join. I was the leader of the education committee, and we taught people at SGS and in the community about Rwanda. In 7th and 8th grade I was the co-leader of the group and continued to work with education. We did fundraising and collection drives to provide support and resources to an all-girls school in Rwanda. It was a really cool experience. 
What does SGS do really well as a school? 

I would definitely say the whole Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) idea and the combination of science and engineering and art. In a lot of science classes, we got to do hands-on work and design our own experiments, and some students incorporated art into these projects. The integration of subjects is very unique to SGS. 

What are your plans after high school?

I will be going to Dartmouth next year, which I picked because it has a very outdoorsy-feel but is also academically rigorous. Growing up in Seattle, I came to really enjoy hiking, backpacking, kayaking—I feel more at peace when I am somewhere where I can go outside, so that was important when it came to choosing a school. I don’t know exactly what I want to do or major in, but I am really interested in environmental science or something to do with public policy or law. 

Someday I want to travel and do Spanish-language immersion. It will depend on the pandemic, but I think that it would be really cool to do something in Spain and have access to a lot of other countries as well. 

What would you say to parents who are thinking about sending their kids to SGS?

I would say that the things that your child will learn there and the experiences that they have will carry with them for the rest of their lives. The culture and the way they teach there will really influence your child forever. 

Do you have any advice for the current students of SGS?

Stay in touch with the friends you make at SGS and, wherever you go after SGS, just remember how awesome you are and that you can face whatever obstacles are in front of you for the rest of your life.
Located in the Central District, Seattle Girls' School is an independent school for girls and gender nonconforming students in grades 5-8. Our mission is to inspire and develop courageous leaders who think independently, work collaboratively, learn joyfully, and champion change.