St. Stephen’s reached out to Carey Koppenhaver, 8th Grade Class of 2000, to ask her memories of St. Stephen’s and its impact on her secondary education and career.
Q: How long were you at St. Stephen’s and what were you involved in? I began at St. Stephen’s in Kindergarten and graduated in the 8th grade Class of 2000. I played every sport and joined every club that St. Stephens offered— basketball, flag football, soccer.
Q: Who were some of your favorite teachers? Paula Katz and J.R. Porter, my Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary teachers respectively, and Coach Ronnie Frankum, my P.E. teacher.
Q: Did you have other family here? Yes, my older sister, Kimberly, was there with me the whole way! She graduated with the 8th Grade Class of 1998. Our parents, Linda and John, were involved at St. Stephen’s, too. My parents volunteered here and came to all my athletic games. My mom served on the school’s board of trustees.
Q: Where did you go to high school and college? I went to Lamar High School, then to the University of Texas at Austin, where I graduated with double major in biology and Spanish.
Q: What was your first job? After college I worked as a cancer research lab assistant at St. Joseph’s Hospital. I realized in order to excel in my career, I either had to go back and get a masters or Ph.D. in biology or explore other options. Because I did not have as much passion for biology as I did for engineering, I decided to pursue engineering and expand my professional opportunities.
Q: How did you do that? I went back to school and earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston.
Q: What are you doing now professionally? I work as a drilling engineer for Chevron. A drilling engineer plans and executes the drilling of oil and/or gas wells. I currently work in the Gulf of Mexico business unit and work offshore on a drillship.
Q: When you’re not out in the Gulf, what do you do for fun? I play soccer on a team through work. I also take any opportunity I can to travel and explore new territory. Recently, I visited Cuba to absorb the unique culture and Colorado to enjoy its nice fall weather. I volunteer through work as well participating in activities such as Habitat for Humanity and helping the homeless. I also spend as much time as possible volunteering for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
Q: Back to St. Stephen’s…Montessori education is different from traditional classroom. How do you think Montessori education effected your secondary learning and your career? I believe that the “learn at your own pace” methodology of Maria Montessori provided a good approach for the rest of my education and even work life. The ability to learn effectively starts with a good foundation and I found that Montessori provided just that foundation. On a people aspect, I feel Montessori helped me to be more accepting of all types of people and all walks of life and gave me confidence to say “anything is possible”.
Q: Favorite memories of St. Stephen’s? On the daily, I would have to say PE, and kickball at lunch. On the yearly, the class trips were memorable and Water Day was always fun! One year, I even remember watching the solar eclipse.
Q: Favorite classes/projects? Math, science, and PE were always my strong suits. I also enjoyed learning Spanish and trying to speak with St. Stephen’s staff members, Enedina and Ricardo Ortega. Q: What’s your advice to current students? You are guaranteed to be well rounded once you leave! Make the best of every situation and always try something new. Remain flexible and remain open, you never know what adventure life will take you on next
Originally Published in School 2016-17 Viewbook in September 2017