Women's History Month—SC Alumnae Q&A

Continuing our celebration of Women's History Month this week, The Trailblazer is proud to share a look into the lives of a few of our strong and smart alumnae.

  1. What year did you graduate from Sierra Canyon? What college/university did you attend?
Priyanka Grover '14: Sierra Canyon 2014, USC 2018
Kyra Hill '14: I graduated from SC in 2014. I attended California State University, Fullerton, and graduated in 2018. 
Drew Samson '18: I graduated from SC in 2018. I now attend Occidental College.
Nichole Stoffers '09: Graduated in 2009 from SC. Attended the University of Southern California, Class of 2013. Received a BA in graphic design with a minor in marketing/advertising.
Isabella Yung '18: I graduated from SC in 2018 and am now pursuing a double major in mechanical engineering and physics at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.
  1. Professionally, what are you up to now?
PG: I am currently working in finance at the Wonderful Company. The Wonderful Company is a CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) company based in Los Angeles. We own some of the biggest brand names: FIJI Water, Justin Wines, and POM Wonderful, just to name a few.  
KH: I started my own business called Key's Home Scents. I offer a nontoxic alternative to paraffin candles. I prepare the candles in small batches, hand poured using soy wax, phthalate-free blends of oils for fragrance, and lots of love! 
DS: Right now, I am a Brands and Properties Intern at Wasserman Media Group
NS: Over the past two years, I left my job of 10 years. Since stepping back (and then the pandemic), I focused on myself, traveled a lot both internationally and domestically. More recently, with our long drives and camping trips, it has been so refreshing to connect more with nature. My husband is a professional photographer, and we continued to travel a lot, taking photos and posting away on social media.  A variety of brands began to reach out to us to create content for them.  With people responding to our travels and enjoying daily adventures, especially during a pandemic, we started a Youtube series called "Coffee Break" on our @meetthestoffers channel. The series takes you on our adventures while taking quick coffee breaks at local coffee spots. 
Since working on our Youtube series and creating content for brands with my husband for various companies, it's led us to our own business venture called Creative Road Marketing Specialists! Our firm focuses on developing strategy, creating content, and operating as a third-party marketing team for several companies. 
IY: I recently co-authored a research paper that was published in Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute’s (MDPI) haptics special issue in January! This summer, I will be interning in the robotics department at ABB's main office in Michigan as an application engineer. https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3417/11/1/194

  1. How do you think Sierra Canyon prepared you for your current business ventures/personal life?
PG: Sierra Canyon set a foundation for where I am today. For four years, I was in an environment that brought out the best in me. I was surrounded and influenced by ingenious teachers and intrepid students. The hands-on learning experiences gave me an educational foundation that set me up for success in the future. The skills I gained are invaluable. I owe Sierra Canyon for shaping me into the confident learner I am today.
KH: The first thing I'd say Sierra Canyon has prepared me for in my personal life and business life is the drive for success. I had great relationships with all of my teachers, as well as a lot of the faculty/staff, to the point where everyone wanted to see me succeed in everything I did, which only made me work harder. That feeling is unmatched, and it still feels like everyone is rooting for me whenever I go back to visit.
DS: Sierra Canyon taught me the importance of communication, diligence, and integrity. Through the small classes and encouragement from the wonderful teachers, I learned how to nurture my strengths, which has helped me succeed in college and the professional space.
NS: One way Sierra prepared me for my current ventures was by teaching me to be a leader. Literally, our class paved the way for the future, as the class of 2009 was the inaugural class!

IY: Trinity College is similar to Sierra, where it is a small school environment. Sierra taught me important skills such as efficient writing, time management, and very strong core mathematic principles. Most importantly, however, Sierra helped me feel very comfortable looking up to my teachers as mentors and as friends. Professors are people, too, and learning how to talk to teachers early on in my education has helped me greatly.

4. Please share a story about a female mentor from SC who has influenced you.

PG: Ms. Brown, former Upper School Dean of Students, heavily influenced me during my time at Sierra Canyon. Words fall short when describing how her presence positively impacted not only me, but also the entire community. I first connected with Ms. Brown when I asked to interview her for an article I was writing for the school paper. I was a new student at Sierra Canyon at the time and was very nervous interviewing the Dean of Students. Ms. Brown made me feel so comfortable and at ease and provided great insight for the article I was writing. On that day, our great connection was formed.

KH: I choose Stefanie Wigfall, who was a great mentor for me because of the amount of time and effort she spent coaching and mentoring me as a member of her volleyball team. She instilled values of hard work, never giving up, and going after what you want to our team, and I will always appreciate her. 

DS: My biggest influence at Sierra Canyon was Mrs. Slipock. From that first day of second grade, Mrs. Slipock always encouraged me to be myself and never quit when the going got rough. She always made sure that I knew there was never an obstacle I couldn't overcome and that little mistakes only allow you to learn from them. She made me understand that being a girl was not something to shy away from. It was powerful, and it was awesome! 

NS: When I think back on my time at Sierra, the most impactful women were Ms. Leung and Ms. Porter.
Ms. Leung was my 9th Grade biology teacher. She taught me how to believe in myself when it came to test-taking and really took the time to work with me on my note-taking. I was not always the best test taker, and she really worked with me on how to get my test-taking skills more solid. My favorite memory was when she started to give me colorful blank paper to take notes on, and it incorporated my love for art while taking notes! To this day, I still take my notes on colorful paper at meetings!
Ms. Porter was a refreshing personality on campus. Every art class was not only a therapy session because it was art, but we could also talk to Ms. Porter about anything. Having someone to turn to, like Ms. Porter, made me feel I had a voice!

IY: Choosing to go into engineering in a liberal arts school was not by accident, and was heavily influenced by two amazing teachers at Sierra Canyon, Dr. Rohrback, and Mrs. Zielinski. I have always enjoyed science but never had the confidence. It's one thing to be good at math and another thing to apply the math to real-life principles. When taking AP Physics I, Dr. R would constantly encourage me, telling me not to be so self-critical and just to trust in myself. I enjoyed her class so much and felt that I really learned that I also took AP Physics II with her along with Honors Engineering, which was the foundation for my current major. Another passion I've had since I was young was reading, and Mrs. Zielinski brought that to life. Talking about Shakespeare's problem plays in Colloquium or standing on tables to act out a scene, she brought so much enthusiasm and energy to the classroom. Her background in law and entrainment added so much value to the general classroom style. It demonstrated first-hand how being well-rounded in the truest sense of the word will give different perspectives on the same texts. Knowing I wanted to have that unique outlook but stay in the sciences, both Dr. R and Mrs. Zielinski have influenced the person I am today, and I am eternally grateful for them.
Lower School: 11052 Independence Avenue
Middle and Upper School: 20801 Rinaldi Street
Chatsworth, CA 91311  | 818.882.8121
Sierra Canyon School is a private, independent, non-sectarian, co-educational, college preparatory school for students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12 located in Chatsworth, California. The highly cosmopolitan campus community is reflective of the Greater Los Angeles area and the world at large. Students are empowered to realize their greatest creative, ethical, intellectual and physical promise through small class sizes, a diverse student-teacher culture and a family-like environment.