The Class of 2022 commencement speaker was none other than Phoenix Mellow '08.
Since her graduation from Friends, Phoenix has been…busy! She attended The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City for fashion design and The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising for fashion design and film and TV costume design in Los Angeles and has since dove head-first into the entertainment industry.
Her costume design and assistant design work have appeared in film, television, commercials, web-series, and music videos, including Sylvie’s Love, A.P. Bio, Detroiters, Black Panther, Mad Men, Mindhunter, The OA, and Katy Perry’s “Hey Hey Hey” and "Small Talk" music videos, among many others.
Phoenix has a passion for design detail, modern and historical fashion, and bringing characters to life through investigative research. She found her calling in the film industry, which amalgamated her interest in the history behind clothing and the psychological connections between people and garments.
"I am what you call a WFS "lifer,'" Phoenix said in her commencement speech, "Which means I attended WFS from preschool through senior year. So Friends is a part of me, in my foundational bones and core beliefs. I’ve carried around those core values…the “SPICES”...and I like to sprinkle them on everything…a little simplicity here…peace there, a pinch of integrity, stir up community and equality, and clean up with some stewardship. Graduates, I assure you, WFS gave you a fantastic set of spices that are going to continue to season your dish called life!
...Friends school teaches us to be open to life's challenges and to be adaptable. It was during this time that those tools were the most beneficial to me outside of a school setting. I used to believe that College was the only route to becoming successful. I thought the most important thing was getting into the best school, getting good grades, and being accepted by my peers. But what I’ve learned is your degree isn't the only thing that defines you, your character is. Hard work, perseverance, determination, and confidence hold just as much weight on your future as your education.
...Never underestimate the power of networking (especially face-to-face). Social capital is more important than we think. Many new jobs come from previous jobs or acquaintances—recommendations and who you know can give you a foot in the door. Tell people what your goals are, put yourself out there. You never know who you are talking to—it can put you in the position of being presented with amazing opportunities." Thank you, Phoenix, for sharing your insight and perspective with the Class of 2022!
“My time as a WFS student built a foundation of curiosity, empathy, and determination that I will always carry with me, but the most important lesson I learned as a WFS student comes from the George Fox quote in the front entrance of school: ‘Let your life speak.’
2018 At Friends since Kindergarten, Cecilia ’18 has interspersed her Humanities studies in California with experiential learning in Germany. After a gap year in Berlin teaching children cooking on a kitchen bus, she entered an intensive program in Classics & Philosophy and designed costumes for the repertory Shakespeare Company during her freshman year at Stanford. When the pandemic moved classes online, she joined a Berlin social enterprise as a Marketing Manager.
1978 A big fan of the Stoic philosophers, David's mantra is: Strive, not arrive. Winner of both the Mendenhall and Bush awards, David played sports, sang in musicals, and acted at Friends. He finds the faculty to be the School's core asset. Harry Hammond and Rick Reynolds in particular influenced his development.
2017 Hannah Kushner ’17 was a Lifer at Friends. On campus, Hannah ran on the cross country team and was involved with the FIRST Tech Challenge, Poetry Speaks, and Amnesty International clubs. After graduation, Hannah attended Lehigh University, where she studied environmental engineering and urban policy, with a focus on climate resilient cities. At Lehigh, Hannah was involved in political activities and stormwater management research. After graduating in January 2021, Hannah stayed on at Lehigh to pursue a master’s degree in environmental policy while serving as a Resilience Fellow with the City of Boston. Hannah intends to continue working in local government to develop climate resilient and socially equitable infrastructure. Connect with Hannah or learn more about her work on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/hannahkushner
After spending two decades as a private practice trial lawyer, Shirley shifted the focus of her career to public service. She credits WFS with instilling in her the many values needed to be an effective U.S. Magistrate Judge.
Joey Gutierrez '07 joined the WFS community in 3rd Grade. After graduation, he attended Bucknell University, where he majored in Comparative Humanities and founded a student group focused on philanthropy education. After college, Joey moved to the Bay Area where he has held various roles in education technology and impact investing. He most recently completed an MBA at Stanford Graduate School of Business and started working at an edtech startup in San Francisco.
Josh just completed his second year as the head coach at Johns Hopkins University. The Blue Jays were conference champions in 2018. He joined Friends in the sixth grade and had four other siblings who attended the school, including Chris ’00 and Cassandra ’05. At WFS, Josh played football, basketball and baseball, and was involved in The Whittier Miscellany, Student Discipline, and theater. He played basketball and football and was awarded the McCabe Scholarship. He has coached college basketball since graduation, acting as an assistant at Hamilton, St. Lawrence, Williams, Lafayette, Rutgers, and Loyola Maryland. He served as the head coach at Stevens Institute of Technology from 2006-08 where he helped take the Ducks to the Sweet 16. Josh and his wife Helen, live in Baltimore with two children.
After graduating from WFS, Kenji matriculated to Brown University and pursued animation and computer graphics. He interned at Pixar and had the chance to work on "Incredibles 2." Kenji is currently working as a technical director at Blue Sky Studios, whose next movie starring Will Smith is due out in the fall of 2019.
2015 Macon Sheppard ‘15 came to Friends in fall of 2006, along with his brothers, Owen Sheppard ‘17 and Grant Sheppard ‘19. At Friends, Macon was involved in the H. Fletcher Brown Boys and Girls Club after-school program, the World Affairs Club, the football team, and (briefly) the Model Organization of American States. After graduating from WFS, Macon studied at Georgetown University, where he majored in International Relations and minored in Arabic and Economics. At Georgetown, Macon was involved with the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, and he studied abroad in Amman, Jordan in the summer of 2017. In August of 2019, Macon moved to Dubai to join McKinsey and Company as a Business Analyst in their Middle East Office. When he has free time, he enjoys exploring the city with friends, traveling, and making a fool of himself in foreign languages.
After retiring from a successful 30 year career at Ikea, Marty has embarked on an exciting second career as a transition life coach in Wilmington. Working as a life coach helps Marty pursue her passion of helping people achieve their goals. She credits WFS with instilling in her the curiosity, self-confidence and enthusiasm to try new things.
For Mike Coleman ’88, giving back is part of his DNA. Following his graduation from Wilmington Friends, Mike has remained a fixture at the School as a coach, a mentor, a volunteer, and a financial supporter. Throughout his 23-year stint at the YMCA in Wilmington, running youth sports leagues and summer camps, he refined his skills in youth development, skills he’s brought to his work at Wilmington Friends. “I loved my time at the YMCA,” Mike explained. “It really helped me to understand a lot about youth development, and also helped me hone my relationship building skills.”
2018 “Throughout the years, I’ve been lucky enough to view WFS as being a family to me, throughout the tough times and the good. Quaker philosophy tells us that everyone has a light within them and I think this is exemplified by the incredibly caring nature of the school community.
Tyrie is a pioneer in eye care. She was the first person to perform LASIK in Hawaii, and more recently, was the first to perform laser assisted cataract surgery. She has fond memories of her experiences at WFS, and believes this school’s commitment to educational excellence has made her value life long learning.