Meet Dana Herman '18

Dana Herman '18
Currently Attending: 
Vanderbilt University
Years at Shipley: 5
Activities & Positions Held: Debate Tea (Captain two years), Handbells, Action Research, Peer Tutor, Admissions Ambassador

How Shipley Shaped Me
Shipley has had a tremendous impact on my life; the School’s influence on my life cannot be understated. Truthfully, I have always felt like a confident person who seeks leadership opportunities and desires to be a part of something bigger, but coming to Shipley was when I was truly offered the platform to demonstrate leadership and be accepted for myself. Shipley gave me the opportunity for leadership by encouraging me to participate and valuing my voice; this School always sought to bring out my natural, vocal talent and even gave me more opportunities such as debate team captain during my junior and senior years. In terms of the areas where I was not naturally talented, Shipley prepared and cultivated me in these areas too, instilling within me the assurance that I can tackle those areas as well. For example, Shipley’s teachers gave me lots of constructive feedback and repeatedly went over how to formulate and develop persuasive papers in order to prepare me in an area where I felt less certain. The teachers were extremely open to working with students outside of class, read drafts early, help organize peer review sessions, and assist in any other ways possible.

Due to the ways the teachers repeatedly sought to help me and strengthen me in my weakest areas, I feel that Shipley has prepared me for college. I felt like my teachers took the time to assess my weakest areas in order to best work with and challenge me. Honestly, I now have no academic fear for college because of the way I was taught, challenged, improved, and the study/retention habits I picked up along the way. In terms of more life skills, Shipley taught me how to think critically and gave me the ability to consider a variety of perspectives. In Spanish class, I might consider the perspective of feminist, Latina writers, and then in English, I may be contemplating the perspective of feminist American writers such as Adrienne Rich. Shipley also had a host of clubs and fostered discussions in the classroom to help make me a dynamic citizen who can objectively view an argument, but never did Shipley make me feel that my personal opinion held no merit or should not be discussed.

Moreover, Shipley helped me take risks. I was encouraged to join music ensembles- even though when I was younger I thought that I would never be musical. At this school, I was able to learn the handbells for five years, and now I am confident in my music reading abilities. From this is where my high school “Aha Moment” comes. It was not an intellectual revelation but rather a self-discovery. I learned through handbells and the countless times I was forced to persevere through a hard math class or history assignment that I really am more capable than I realized. Today, I am walking out of high school with the revelation of how powerful it can be when I set my mind to something or take a new risk and stick with it; I can accomplish more than I previously was constrained to believe. Shipley offers lots of risk opportunities through various advanced, rigorous courses, ensembles, and intense sports. In myself and in my peers, I think we all have had this “aha”- whether or not we realize it. We all were encouraged to do something novel during our time at Shipley, and I see how much we all grew and realized our potential. Each of us is greatly changed for the better after these four years of high school at Shipley.

Who was your most influential teacher and why?
This is a really hard question! However… I think my most influential teacher would have to be Dr. Chirlian. For me, her class started out pretty difficult because this was the first time I was deeply exposed to trigonometry and this topic confused me. At the start of sophomore year, I was despondent and worried that I would never be good at math again. However, it was the way Dr. C motivated and inspired me to love math that was so influential. She met with me on many occasions after class to teach me new study strategies and habits; she taught me how to work diligently and persistently in math and the skills of a good math student. I was inspired by her to practice and love math a lot, and I worked so hard to do math neatly and think abstractly. By the end of her class, I not only felt assured of my mathematical capabilities, but I had a much larger “toolbox” of problem-solving abilities: I took these skills onward throughout high school, and I will to college as well. The lessons I learned, her approach, and her effort to help me grow were so inspiring.

Most Memorable Experience
My most memorable experience at Shipley would have to be the Spanish exchange. I always have loved cultures and foreign languages, especially Spanish. When I came to Shipley, I learned so much more of the language and I was encouraged to become a part of a Spanish exchange with a school in Spain; this experience really defined my junior and senior years at Shipley. It was incredible to be a part of another culture; I was able to host a wonderful student junior year and then I was able to visit Spain senior year. I forged so many friendships for life, and the experience was so memorable in the way that my education was able to extend cultures and how Shipley aspired for me to broaden my understanding and compare my reality to that of other places around the world.

Plans for Fall 2018
My plans for fall of 2018 are to attend Vanderbilt University where I will be studying biochemistry and law.

What is your future ambition?
My future ambition is to receive a dual M.D/J.D degree and become a medical lawyer who works either in government policy or patent law for a pharmaceutical company. I also would like to start a nonprofit company or volunteer for one and be able to travel all around the world, especially to Spanish-speaking countries, doing service for poverty, hunger, and mental health.

What does “Courage for the Deed; Grace for the Doing” mean to you?
For me, it means to take a challenge in stride and to retain composure and peace in even these challenging moments.

Complete this sentence: Shipley has prepared me...
to be a young woman who is academically confident, self-assured, and ready to tackle a challenge.


The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.