Alumni Spotlight

Gateway School Alum, Doug Leonard, returned to Gateway last week to perform for current students. Doug’s honest, warm-hearted sentiments were as inspiring as his voice. He shared his music and talked with students about the impact music has had on his life.

Doug graduated from Gateway in 2010. He fondly remembers Gateway School talent shows, the Harvest Festival and playing flag football.

Doug is a talented guitarist, pianist, and storyteller currently living in Boston, Massachusetts, studying at Berklee College of Music. He is writing, performing and composing the works of his upcoming album “In the Open”.

Alumni Spotlight

Photo of Gateway School Alumna


Gateway School’s distinguished alumna, Hannah Sullivan, is a sociolinguist who is working to implement solutions to global communication gaps. Hannah is a Senior Research Fellow at Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative, a multi-year research program on Islamophobia, where her research centers on analyzing and tracking patterns of hateful speech in online discourse and strategizing actionable solutions for countering them. Through her work at the Bridge Initiative, Hannah also engages in education and outreach on Islamophobia, including an upcoming talk at The Catholic University of America entitled “Challenging Islamophobia: Deconstructing the Everyday Language of anti-Muslim Racism.”

Hannah has three years of work and study experience in the Middle East. Prior to completing her graduate degree in Linguistics at Georgetown University in 2017, Hannah lived and worked in Amman, Jordan, where she first served as a David L. Boren Fellow concentrating on intensive Arabic studies and later as a project manager on Women, Peace and Security at the Jordanian National Commission for Women, a semi-governmental organization dedicated to securing gender equality.

Hannah’s travels, dedication and accomplishments exemplify her success in her career early in life. We are so proud to see our alumna Hannah’s professional and personal missions provide such positive and meaningful contributions.


Alumni Spotlight

Gateway School alumni student


Former Gateway student, Gus Samios, is now an aerospace engineer at Edwards Air Force Base for the 412th Test Wing. Gus received his BS in Aerospace Engineering from Cal Poly in 2015, and is currently working as a flight test engineer at Edwards Air Force Base, while also pursuing a Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering at UCLA. Since being at Gateway, Gus has always dreamed about designing and working “hands on” with aircraft, and exclaims that, “Edwards couldn’t be a more fun and rewarding place to do it.” Since starting in July 2015, he has been able to support nearly 100 flight test missions and has lead just over 40 of them. He spends his days in the world’s most advanced fighter cockpits for ground tests and mission prep, engineering and analyzing system efficiency and safety, and interfacing with world class pilots. His goal is to push aircraft to their limits. Most importantly, this is what Gus has always wanted to do, and relishes the fact that, “Gateway set the foundation for me to get here.”

The 412th Test Wing conducts, analyzes, and reports on all flight and ground testing of aircraft, weapons systems, software and simulation for the U.S. Air Force. There are three core components for this mission: flying operations, maintenance and engineering.  The U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, also part of the test wing, is where the Air Force’s top pilots, navigators and engineers learn how to conduct flight tests and generate the data needed to carry out test missions. The comprehensive curriculum of Test Pilot School is fundamental to the success of flight test and evaluation.

Congratulations Gus on pursuing your dreams!

Alumna Kristin Fauske (’08) wins Global Design Challenge

Kristin Fauske, Architecture Major, and her two team members from California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, won first place in the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge, with their project CO2 extrACTION.

CO2 extrACTION is a multi-functional panel system that works to capture and isolate airborne carbon dioxide in dense urban areas.

Kristin and her team researched 40 biological examples capturing carbon dioxide and identified overarching patterns among the researched biological strategies which inspired them to design a panel system that can be applied on multiple scales to buildings and other existing infrastructure along freeways and main streets. Their design creates a way to facilitate the extraction of airborne carbon dioxide by drawing it through reed-like entrances and exits. Each inlet uses the venturi effect to increase air speed coming into the system. The air then passes through a carbon scrubber, which contains polymer strips coated with anionic exchange resin. The resin reacts with atmospheric carbon dioxide, converting it to bicarbonate. The carbon dioxide is stored on the strips until they are rinsed with water or moist air, which occurs naturally around dawn when atmospheric water condensation accumulates on multiple components of the structure. The carbon dioxide is then released and drawn into the chamber below, where it is stored and transported via a tube to another location for further use.

They have been invited to continue working on their project in the Biomimicry Institute’s Accelerator Program. Kristin also received a department award from California Polytechnic State University for this project.

Congratulations Kristin, on all of your accomplishments!

Watch the video of their project.



Alumna in Open Studios Santa Cruz

Gateway School is proud to see alumna, Alexa Shoemaker Brooks, owner of Whimsy Spot, participating in Open Studios Santa Cruz. We love seeing our former students active in the community.

Since Gateway, Alexa studied printmaking and bookbinding with poet, printmaker and Shelley Memorial Award winner, Gary Young, for 3 years.  During her studies at Washington University, she designed for the Performing Arts Department and worked at The Muny designing their summer playbills.  In 2011, she studied graphic design at Pasadena Art Center College of Design.

Alexa, fondly, remembers each of her teachers and projects from Gateway vividly. She feels the lasting impression Gateway left on her is, “indicative of the amount of individualized attention she was given.” When she was younger she did not see herself as an artistic person (Yet!). “We all have all of these things in us all the time, failing is fine.” Her personal philosophies reflect Gateway School’s growth mindset.

At Open Studios, Alexa is showing a beautiful collection of hand cut greeting cards and art prints. Her greeting cards feature different animal silhouettes cut out of vibrant papers that reflect innate characteristics of that animal. She also has prints of her collage work depicting animals in whimsical, playful environments.

You can visit Whimsy Spot’s open studio this coming weekend, October 21st and 22nd from 11am-5pm, artist #111

Class of 2013 Reunion Party

Congrats to the Class of 2013 as they graduate high school and look to their new adventures in college, gap years and beyond! Our graduates are headed off to the following colleges next year:

Boise State University
Cal Poly Pomona
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Colorado College
Colorado State University
New York University
Oregon State University
Santa Clara University
Scripps College
Sonoma State University
Stanford University
Tufts University
University of Arizona
University of Chicago
University of Oregon
University of Puget Sound
University of Redlands
Whitman College

Spring Alumni Gathering

We had so much fun welcoming our alumni back to campus on May 18th. Our faculty loved seeing each and every one of these truly remarkable young adults (and only a few faces were hard to recognize)! Hope to see the rest of you at Graduation on June 8th!

Gateway Alumna Hila Mehr (’02) Earns Fellowship

Congratulations to Gateway alumna Hila Mehr (Class of 2002) who was just chosen as one of the Technology and Democracy Fellows at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School. “This year’s Fellows are especially passionate about building the capacity and new tools needed by civic activists, community organizers, local government officials, and journalists who are so critical to making democracy work.” We are so proud of you, Hila, for your hard work and determination!

Alumni Spotlight: Sierra Tobin

Each summer, Gateway School graduate and avid traveler Sierra Tobin, makes her way back to the playgrounds and classrooms of her childhood. This is her third year working at Camp Gateway, and the last summer before she graduates from Vassar College in 2017. And yet Sierra has already accomplished a laudable amount before walking the stage. Not only is she a talented athlete, but she is also a passionate scholar, keenly interested in the connection between climate change and social systems, which is why she studies Geography at Vassar.

“I’m very interested in the environment and climate change, but also in social systems and interactions,” Sierra explained. “Geography enables me to look at the intersection between these two in both global and local contexts.”

Fresh from a semester abroad, Sierra recently had the opportunity to participate in an International Honors Program called “Climate Change: The Politics of Food, Water and Energy.” The program lasted a little over four months, and allowed Sierra to see first-hand the global systems and impacts of climate change that she studies at Vassar. Continue reading “Alumni Spotlight: Sierra Tobin”

Congratulations to Gateway’s Class of 2012

We were so thrilled to celebrate with some of our alumni from the Class of 2012 who are graduating from high school and heading off to college. Assistant Head of School Sherri Helvie toasted the grads and she and Spanish teacher Patty Lucas reminisced with the students and told stories about their time here at Gateway. Congratulations grads! We are so proud of the young adults you have become and we look forward to staying in touch with you as you head off on your next adventures!