Calling For Alumni Award Nominees

Heather Otto '97, 2020 alumni award winnerThe Alumni Association is looking for nominees for the MPA Alumni Association Award. Do you know an alum who is dreaming big and doing right? We want to hear about them. The MPA Alumni Association Award is intended to honor alumni of outstanding talent pursuing their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations, while embracing the spirit of MPA’s commitment to community and social outreach. They should be real-world examples for both current students and alumni to dream big and do right. Nominations are due April 1, 2021.

Please include the nominee’s name, email, and a brief explanation of why you believe they should receive the MPA Alumni Association Award (250 words or less). Send all nominations to

Celebrate MPA Through The Decades By Supporting Your Alma Mater!

March 2, 2021 is your time to show your support for MPA students, faculty, and staff by participating in our Alumni Day of Giving. This year, participation matters more than ever before with our largest challenge yet! Through the decades, MPA students and alumni have embodied Panther Pride, and now you can share your gratitude by joining in on the annual day of giving. If your decade reaches 12% participation you will unlock a $2,500 challenge gift to support MPA’s next generation. If all four MPA decades reach 12% then it will unlock an additional $10,000, totaling $20,000 in matching challenge gifts. Schedule your gift today!

Other ways to join in:

  • Share on your social media platforms
  • Contact your fellow alums to participate to ensure challenge gifts are received
  • Send a statement to of “Why you give!”
  • Share on facebook, Instagram and with Mounds Park Academy photos of you and your time at MPA

Thank you for your support of the MPA students of today and tomorrow!
Contact Jennifer Rogers, director of development and community engagement at or 651-748-5532 with any questions or to discuss your gift.

Meet Tom Hooven ’97

Tom Hooven and his familyWhat are you currently doing, professionally and/or personally?

I’m an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Newborn Medicine in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics. I run a research laboratory that uses molecular genetics and bioinformatic techniques to better understand the interactions between bacteria, pregnant mothers, and newborn babies. The goal of this work is to develop better preventative and treatment approaches to avoid the worst complications of bacterial infections in pregnancy and early newborn life. I also serve as an attending physician in the neonatal intensive care units at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and Magee-Women’s Hospital of UPMC, where our teams care for newborns and infants with complications of prematurity, congenital malformations, and other neonatal illnesses. I teach medical students, residents, neonatology fellows, and research scientists training at the University of Pittsburgh and affiliated institutions.

How did you get there? Where did you attend college? Are there some career moves or other key experiences or relationships that have inspired you?

I attended college at Yale University, where I benefitted from a true liberal arts education that let me study broadly, with very few constraints. I did not enter college planning a career in medicine or science. (I thought I’d be an English major!) I think having the freedom to explore many topics allowed me to find a calling in medicine that I hadn’t expected. It was a result of realizing that I wanted a career that combined reason and science with humanitarian goals. Read More

What Google’s Discovery Means For An MPA Student

Kindergarten student working in the Makerspaceby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Not long ago, Google decided to do some self-reflection. Cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page set out to determine the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees. As a company that mostly hired top computer scientists, I imagine they were more than a bit surprised to find that of these eight qualities, expertise in STEM was not first nor second, but eighth! The top seven were: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others’ different values and points of view); having empathy toward, and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.

What can we learn from Google about the future of creating smart, successful, in-demand graduates? The skills that students learn from the humanities and liberal arts are in high demand. In addition to the skills listed above, Google’s follow up research identified having curiosity toward teammates’ ideas, harboring emotional intelligence, valuing equality, being generous, and cultivating emotional safety as additional key skills for their employees. Read More

Virtual Maker Fest Is Saturday, February 20!

Amelia Dickson's digital artworkWe are so excited for Virtual Maker Fest 2021 this weekend! On Saturday, February 20 at 11 AM, join us on Zoom as community makers to showcase their projects, passions, and hands on how-to demonstrations. Participants will be able to view the presentations by visiting different breakout rooms, ask questions, and discuss with our guest presenters. We are looking forward to seeing you there to celebrate our creative community!

Join via Zoom >
Meeting ID 913 0516 4223
Passcode: makerfest

Discover MPA Student And Maker Amelia Dickson
We interviewed MPA student and passionate maker Amelia Dickson so you can get to know her ahead of time! Don’t miss her Virtual Maker Fest presentation on Zoom Saturday, February 20 at 11 AM! Discover Amelia’s artwork and learn more about Virtual Maker Fest >

Seeking Host Families For International Students

two international students in the makerspaceDo you have room to spare? Space in your heart for another family member? A desire to expand your family’s perspective of the world? MPA is seeking host families for international students for the 2021-22 school year. For one exceptional prospective Middle School student in particular, we are seeking a current family to host her.

Despite the challenges that COVID-19 has created for our new international students, they are truly finding great success, experiencing near-daily “firsts,” and loving their MPA journey. Between the adults in their school and home lives, our students feel supported, nurtured, and loved while living so far from their families. This is vital to their success and the strongest testament to everything our MPA host families and staff do to care for our international students. Read More

We Are In Good Hands

Kindergartners gifting Dr. Hudson a scarf by Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I was pleasantly surprised Tuesday by a visit from Ms. Petersen’s kindergartners who presented me with a very nice MPA blue scarf. As we sat on the floor together in the hallway outside my office (six feet apart, of course!), they shared that they are spreading kindness throughout the school this month. The scarf was an act of kindness to thank me for my efforts to safely open school this year. As one of them put it, “You were a great leader and protector,” in the classroom.

For many, the future looks grim. Some people have lost faith in our society and feel hopeless and helpless. However, when so much seems to be outside of our control, I believe we must seek aspects of our lives we can control. Taking action now on something that will have a positive impact in years ahead can help us move through those feelings of hopelessness. In the midst of uncertainty, for instance, investing in the education of our children is essentially an act of hope and kindness.

Over the years, many MPA families and alumni have expressed their faith and confidence in the future by making a planned or estate gift to the school. These types of gifts might include making MPA the beneficiary of a life insurance policy or retirement plan, creating a charitable gift annuity, or most simply, by making a bequest through your will. There are many ways you can designate a future gift through your estate planning. Contact the Development Office to learn more about what options might work best for you. Read More

Maker Fest 2021: Amelia Dickson

Amelia DicksonWe’re interviewing the Makers you’ll meet at Maker Fest 2021 on Saturday, February 20 so you can get to know them ahead of time! If reading about the Amelia’s work has inspired you to share your own, sign up here to be a Maker yourself!

What (or who) inspires you to make? 
I find a lot of inspiration from other artists around me and my own experiences in life. My own struggles inspire me as well to create worlds and things that don’t exist in order to escape the world around me.

What do you enjoy making?
I spend a lot of my time creating characters and environments through illustration and model making!

What are your favorite materials and mediums?
Throughout my time as a growing artist, I have made it a goal of mine to experiment with every medium I can, but my favorites are definitely digital illustration, painting, using polymer clay, and drawing with a classic graphite pencil.

If you could make anything imaginable with no restrictions, what would you make?
I would love to learn how to make fantasy prosthetics for costumes and movies. I love to create things that are fictional but seem real! It takes me into an entirely new world. If I could, I would create an entire environment full of fictional but realistic models.

Amelia Dickson's digital artworkWhat music do you listen to while you work?
My favorite music to listen to as I work is definitely movie soundtracks including The Lord of the Rings and How to Train Your Dragon. My top five songs on my Spotify wrapped last year were all songs from the How to Train your Dragon soundtrack… It’s just so good!

How has the MPA Makerspace impacted your abilities?
Because of COVID-19, I haven’t had many opportunities to use the Makerspace over the last year, and I definitely wish I could have used it more! There are so many incredible tools in the space that can transform ideas into reality. Sometime in the future, I would love to use the laser cutter more to print illustrations into wood and other materials.

Don’t miss Amelia’s Maker Fest presentation on Zoom Saturday, February 20 at 11 AM!

Join via Zoom >
Meeting ID 913 0516 4223
Passcode: makerfest

Meet Laura McPherson ’04

Laura McPherson What are you currently doing, professionally and/or personally?

I am an Associate Professor of Linguistics at Dartmouth College, where my research focuses on documenting understudied languages (primarily of West Africa) and studying the relationship between language and music in “talking drum” traditions.

How did you get there? Where did you attend college? Are there some career moves or other key experiences or relationships that have inspired you?

I always loved languages (as faculty at MPA could attest to!). In college at Scripps College, I discovered the field of linguistics—the scientific study of how languages work—and knew it was exactly what I had been looking for. My wonderful undergraduate advisor did research with African languages, and after a class where we spent the term working with a speaker from Uganda, I was inspired to do fieldwork of my own. I received a Fulbright and spent eleven months in Mali after graduation documenting a Dogon language called Tommo So. Throughout my PhD program at UCLA, I continued taking trips, first to Mali, and later to neighboring Burkina Faso. I was lucky enough to get the job at Dartmouth in 2014 when I finished my PhD and I’ve been there ever since!

How did your MPA experience prepare you for your life today? How did MPA inspire you to dream big and do right?

I was a lifer at MPA, and so I was fortunate to grow up always having meaningful and personalized relationships with teachers. The teachers at MPA saw each of us as individuals and encouraged our dreams and our interests. I had taken French since kindergarten, but the school allowed me the flexibility to take Japanese 4 my freshman year of high school, and to take Spanish later on, which required some moving things around in the schedule! Having received that kind of encouragement and mentorship throughout school made me seek out those kinds of relationships with faculty in college, and now it is one of my greatest professional pleasures to pay it forward to my students here at Dartmouth.

What’s next? Do you have any aspirations–personal or professional–that you’d like to share?

A year of being home and unable to travel in New Hampshire has led me to take up gardening, and chickens may be next (if I can find “chicken sitters” for when I’m in the field)! I have a new project on talking drums (and flutes and fiddles and trumpets….) that will hopefully take me all over the world to document these endangered traditions, when we can finally travel again.


Meet Katherine Garvey ’11

Katherine Garvey on a bicycleWhat are you currently doing, professionally and/or personally?

After working in D.C. for three years in with different education-focused nonprofits, I was offered a position with Senator Amy Klobuchar’s Presidential campaign and moved back to Minnesota.  Currently, I am the Campaign Manager for Judge Pat Diamond for Ramsey County and entering my first year of graduate school at Hamline University.

How did you get there? Where did you attend college? Are there some career moves or other key experiences or relationships that have inspired you?

After graduating from Montana State University, I was offered an internship with the Tanadana Foundation as the ESL teaching intern in Otavalo, Ecuador. After that ended, I moved to Washington, D.C. to work with the educational nonprofit City Year AmeriCorps. With City Year, I worked in classrooms in Southeast D.C. helping bridge the gap between what schools were built to do and what students needed from their school. Wanting to stay in D.C., I found myself as an advisor for foreign Fulbright Scholars and working with Department of State contracts at the Institute of International Education. While I enjoyed learning about the visa process and advising, I realized I missed the personal connections I got to have in the classroom. Read More