Alumni Spotlight: Gwen McConnell '09

1. Where have you been since graduation 2009?
I currently work in the Marketing and Merchandising Department at Floral Supply Syndicate, a wholesale floral supply company with locations throughout the US.

We supply all decorative materials to retail florists, event planners, wedding coordinators, schools, etc. My role is very creative, and that's what I love most.
During college, I worked as an intern for a Digital Marketing Agency and I was brought on full-time the day after graduation. After two years, I found Floral Supply Syndicate and took on a marketing and merchandising role. In 2017, I left the position to dive into something new, and I ended up coming back to the floral world 10 months later. FSS welcomed me back, and I finally knew where I wanted to be and wished that I had never left. I think the biggest lesson I learned was that it's okay to try other things, but my instincts will always lead me to what I really want.
2. What was your college experience like?
I graduated from California Lutheran University in 2013. Going from Sierra Canyon to CLU was an easy transition for me because I always loved small class sizes. To be honest, it's the only thing I've ever known since pre-school. During the East Coast college tour at SC - which I highly recommend - I remember Mr. Burnett recommending CLU and the moment I stepped on campus I knew it was the place I wanted to be.
I lived on campus all four years, which was the best decision I ever made. Of course, as a senior, you want to finally live in your own house off campus, but I made the right decision and stayed on campus. For two out of my four years living on campus, I hosted and roomed with international students from Norway. One of my very best memories was being invited to go home with one of my roommates - to Norway - for New Years!

I was heavily involved with the Athletic Department at CLU. I took advantage of working on-campus to make extra money, and I was the front desk "face" of the athletic office and downstairs gym. I also spent a lot of my time doing the set-up for CLU games. This helped me gain a lot of friendships and familiarities with teachers, coaches and most of all, students.

3. How about your experience at SC? Are there any classes, activities, teachers or other that impacted you?

When I was a freshman at Sierra Canyon, the school was located on Nordhoff Place in an office building! My class ('09) was the first SC Upper School class. We were 50 students charged, along with our teachers, to create Sierra Canyon High School out of nothing. We were all so fresh and unfamiliar with how to "start" a high school that we became close and supportive. Adjusting to that was a challenge, but it made going to school exciting each day. Each year a younger grade of new faces would be added to the mix, and our class was there to set the standards and examples. It was quite an experience to be the oldest on campus. My maturity and independence are owed to my SC experience. We, the members of the Class of 2009, were pioneers. We had no traditions to look back on or upper classmen to set examples. We were forced to figure out things for ourselves. It was an exciting and enriching experience it was for us all.

Two people I can thank for my success and memories at SC are Mr. Fennell and Mr. Burnett. I first got to know Mr. Burnett when he coached our Freshman Girls’ Basketball Team. He then became my college counselor and helped me secure my next step with Cal Lutheran. His knowledge and recommendations were so helpful. I keep in touch with Mr. Fennell to date. Not only was he a mentor to our whole 2009 class, but he made learning fun, and everyone wanted to be in his classes. Even though I have not seen either of them in years, they were a huge part of my SC career.

4. Is it important to (and do you) keep in touch with old SC classmates?

I do keep in touch with old classmates! Mostly through social media, but it's fun to see where everyone is and what everyone is doing. I can't wait until our 10-year reunion next year.
5. If you were speaking to current UC students at SC, what advice would you give them?

Follow your instincts and do what you want to do but do it for a reason and do it for your reasons. Don't make life decisions because someone is telling you to chase money or achieve a certain status or title. Don't be afraid to go into college "undecided". You will figure out your future and what you are meant to do in life.

I never could have guessed the different roads I took to be where I am today, but I am the happiest I've ever been. I'm in a role where I have leadership, creativity, and respect.
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.