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Featured Alumni

Gen Cohen '09

Gen Cohen ‘09, CEO and founder of Gen’s Gym, started her own business in her mid-20s and has since helped over 100 career-oriented women attain their fitness goals. Gen’s Gym offers a popular online coaching program called Happy Bod Squad. Featured in Women’s Health Magazine, Cohen runs a wildly popular Instagram account with over 70.2K followers!

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Norm Riker coaches a group of girls on Connecticut College's soccer team.

Norm Riker ‘85, now head coach of women’s soccer at Connecticut College, excelled at soccer and lacrosse growing up and always knew he would pursue a career in sports. For Riker, academics required a great deal of effort, and he credits Rectory for helping him navigate his dyslexia. Riker describes his serendipitous journey to Rectory’s campus and recalls fun memories of dorm life! 

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Photo of John Sorenberger in front of green, leafy trees.

As a Rectory student, John Sornberger ‘63 struggled with dyslexia, ADHD, and anxiety about learning. Now, he has created a new gamified learning app called “Challenge Master” to help young learners meet their full academic potential. “Challenge Master” is a ready-to-be-programmed, game-based tutorial and individualized app that normalizes periods of “not knowing” something as something that all learners experience regardless of “intelligence” or “ability.” He said that his Rectory experience sparked his passion for helping others maximize their learning potential. “Challenge Master” is an expression of that passion. Click here to read about how Sornberger used research and his past struggles to invent an app that would help people like him!

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Photo of Mae Sharpless in front of a woody background.

Mae Sharpless ‘15 has big plans to launch her own company called “The Amazing Reading Box” that helps children utilize the science of reading, and she also hopes to work in social media post-graduation. Sharpless struggles with dyslexia, which made school hard and reading almost impossible. Ironically, her respite from school was to escape into the world of books. At home, she loved to read and create stories with the help of books on tape and her mother who would read aloud and help her scribe her own stories. When she first attended Rectory, she was in the 1st percentile in reading; but over the next two years, her reading score sky-rocketed to the 87th percentile and then to the 99th percentile. She found her love for reading at Rectory, and one year, read over 150 books! Click here to read more about Mae’s amazing success and where she hopes to wind up in the future.

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Rectory 1984 alumnus Corey Olds teaching a class.

Corey Olds ‘84 remembers Rectory in the 80s as one of the coolest places he had known at the time. Students cultivated new skills in the classroom and on various sports teams, got fired up about the annual coed dance, savored proctor (student leader) privileges, and created mix-tapes that celebrated the legendary tunes that the decade had to offer. Rectory was also one of the first times Olds was one of few persons of color in a mostly white community. Motivated by his experiences growing up, Olds has dedicated his life to teaching students about inclusion. He founded the Excelsus Foundation, an educational partnership whose primary mission is to narrow the academic achievement gap between African-American students and their white counterparts. 

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2020 Christmas Card from Santa Claus '61.

Santa Claus ‘61, who was known as Thomas O’Connor from New York when he was a Rectory student, is a clergyman and monk who serves as Councilman of the City of North Pole, Alaska. For more than two decades, Claus has volunteered to advocate for millions of children who have been abused, neglected, exploited, abandoned, homeless, and institutionalized.

Claus credits his passion for helping children as something that began at Rectory when he was a self-proclaimed “rotund boy” assisting smaller classmates. Claus emphasizes that his new name helps him get through to legislators and grab their attention.

Click read more to learn about how Thomas O’Connor from New York became Santa Claus from North Pole, Alaska.

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