Four Alums Share How Their Experience Attending Independent School Shaped Them

Baltimore has a rich culture and history of independent schools. These institutions dispense inspiring mentors, instill enduring values, and provide foundational experiences. We sat down with four graduates of Baltimore’s independent schools, all at different points in their professional lives, to discuss their education’s lifelong impact on them.

As a lower school student at McDonogh School, Leena Rao had a ready response when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up: a professional tennis player. When she had the opportunity to meet her hero, celebrated tennis player and 1979 McDonogh graduate Pam Shriver, it was a moment she never forgot.

“I can still remember the joy on my face when I got to meet this icon that I worshipped,” Rao says. Shriver was on campus for Founder’s Day, an annual tradition at McDonogh where the entire community pauses to remember the alumni who have passed away in the last year. John Grega, McDonogh’s religious studies teacher, selected Rao to say the Benediction and introduced her to Shriver afterward.